0

State: Oxendine needs hunting safety course

ATLANTA -- Republican gubernatorial hopeful John Oxendine broke state law by hunting without having completed a safety course, state investigators concluded Monday.

A report from the state Department of Natural Resources said Oxendine and other members of a hunting party involved in an accidental shooting Jan. 17 at a northwest Georgia quail preserve should take the state course. It recommended no penalties and labeled the shooting accidental.

Oxendine, the state's insurance commissioner, said Monday that he would take the course. He said he had consulted the state Web site, which says only that the course is a requirement for a hunting license. Since he doesn't have a hunting license he did not think he needed the course, he said.

Oxendine's hunting record has moved into the spotlight after his 13-year-old stepson sprayed a 59-year-old bystander with more than 30 shotgun pellets during the trip, according to the DNR report. The victim, Russell Robertson Jr. of Chickamauga, was treated and released at a nearby hospital.

Oxendine was hunting with his stepson and his 18-year-old son, J.W.

Robertson had been standing about 30 yards behind the line of hunters and was peppered with shotgun spray when a quail was flushed from the brush and flew out and over them.

It was initially unclear who hit Robertson, but a state DNR investigation identified Oxendine's 13-year-old stepson as the shooter. Because he is a minor, the teenager is not identified by name in the state report. But Oxendine confirmed state officials were talking about his stepson.

The state investigated the incident and issued its final findings Monday.

Oxendine said he doesn't have a hunting license in Georgia and wasn't required to have one on the property where he was hunting. State DNR officials said the preserve has a ''blanket'' permit giving those on the property permission to hunt. The report said state law requires anyone born after January 1961 to complete a hunting safety education course to hunt or receive a hunting license. Oxendine was born in 1962.