TOMS RIVER — A 26-year-old Barnegat Township man died Saturday after being shot by a friend while hunting in Berkeley Township, authorities said.

The victim had been hunting in a group with his father, who tried to save him after the shooting, authorities said.

The victim, whose identity had not been released, and his father were hunting deer with two friends when one of the friends, a 41-year-old man from Forked River in Lacey Township, shot him, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office.

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The father “immediately attempted to render aid” to his son while the group called 911 for help, but the victim was declared dead soon after the shooting, according to investigators.

Detectives from the prosecutor’s Major Crimes Unit and Berkeley police were investigating. The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department had custody of the shotgun.

The officials said none of the parties involved would be publicly identified Saturday.

Shootings by hunters of other people are rare in New Jersey, but Saturday’s incident was at least the second such shooting in Ocean County within six weeks.

On Dec. 17, a pheasant hunter in Jackson Township shot a 60-year-old father and his 34-year-old son who were hunting in the state’s Collier’s Mill Wildlife Management Area. State law-enforcement officials said the wounded men had been about 20 yards from the other hunter as he tried to shoot a bird.

The father was hit by four birdshot pellets in the face, and the son was hit by three in the face and two in one hand. Both needed hospital treatment, according to officials with the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

In 1998, state officials charged a 30-year-old man with shooting and killing a 17-year-old fellow hunter in Morris County as the boy was leaving a mountain after a day of hunting.

That same year, a Salem County man was shot in the head while deer hunting in Lower Alloways Creek Township.

At that point, Fish and Wildlife officials cited a statistic that out of 100,000 hunters who spent 1 million “recreational days in the field ... the total number of hunting accidents averages less than 20 per year in New Jersey.”

But in 2001, a Gloucester County man hunting with his 13-year-old son in Glassboro was shot and killed on the opening day of deer season, according to officials in that county.

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Contact: 609-272-7237

MDeangelis@pressofac.com

Twitter @P essBeach

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