For the fourth known time in 6 years, a tournament angler has claimed to have been shot at while engaged in a tournament. This time, the event in question took place at Beaver Lake near Rogers, Ark. site of this week's Walmart Open.
David "Scotty" Young of Mayfield, Ky. alleges that Sunday, during practice for the event, he entered a cove connected to the War Eagle arm
and was shot at three times by a person on shore who wielded a "high-power rifle."
A similar situation occurred at the 2003 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, when Gary Klein accused Dale Silbernagel of firing over his boat during competition. Silbernagel was never prosecuted.
At the 2004 Alabama River Bassmaster Elite 50 in Prattville, Ala., pro Stacey King, his non-boater Bill Bonner and BASS photographer Gerald Crawford claimed they had been shot at by a local resident. King also said he found a bullet hole in the hull of his boat after the event. The alleged shooter, Paul Gray of Lowndesboro, Ala., was charged in the Lowndes County District Court with three counts of reckless endangerment and one count of criminal mischief in the third degree. He was found not guilty.
In May 2007, 86-year-old John Burke Yearwood of Madison, Ga. was charged with aggravated assault in Greene County, Ga. after allegedly firing three shots at tournament anglers fishing the Oconee River. Angler Craig Barnett of Sycamore was wounded under the left arm, and produced a small-caliber bullet for authorities. The outcome of that case is not currently known.
Young began his official practice for the Wal-Mart Open on Sunday already feeling down the day before, he lost the Kentucky Lake Central Stren on a tiebreaker.
Beaver Lake is currently about 8 feet above full pool, which means that vast areas of shoreline are flooded. Last year, the event was won by fishing flooded parks and parking lots, and it's common practice to fish such flooded areas.
Laws differ from state to state regarding public water during flood stages, and the law as applies to Beaver in its current condition isn't known.
According to Young, he worked his way back into the War Eagle arm and began fishing a shallow cove that was perhaps a flooded pasture. At that point, things took a turn.
"The first warning was a high-powered shot about 50 yards in front of the boat," Young said. "Then I started hollering at him and screaming I thought he was shooting at a turtle or something. I thought it was a mistake, or a ricochet you know how a bass boat can creep up on something but he wouldn't even acknowledge me."
Young said he screamed at the man three times, but thought perhaps the man had run in the house after learning a boat was nearby.
"I went about 20 more feet and a shot blew up water right in front of me," Young said. "I hate to say I'm this much of a coward, but I climbed down in the boat and got under the console I thought he was trying to shoot me. Then I jumped up and took off with the trolling motor down. All of a sudden I heard the third shot, but I was leaving and don't know where it hit."
Newton Heard Too
Fellow pro Jonathan Newton was fishing outside the backwater and told BassFan he heard all three shots.
"I was in the cove next to (Young)," Newton said. "I heard three shots, and that kind of made me alert. That makes you pop up a little bit. Then (Young) came screaming around the corner telling me not to go in there. He was obviously shook up.
"It's just unfortunate that things come to that," Newton added. "When you're on the water, you never really think about danger, other than being real aware of your surroundings. You never think something like that's going to happen."
Young said that after he exited the backwater, he stopped and spent 2 hours near the entrance in order to prevent other anglers from entering.
He said he also called 911 and was routed to a local sheriff's office.
"I could barely talk to the lady on 911," Young said. "They sent me to the dispatcher, and dispatch called the sheriff. I never got to talk to the sheriff personally, but they said he (was) on his way. They said, 'We know who you're talking about.'
"The thing is, I still haven't talked to the sheriff. He never called me back."
BassFan placed several calls to the Benton County Sheriff's office today, but was unable to reach public information officer Doug Gay, who would likely be able to confirm whether the incident was investigated.
When asked why someone would object to his fishing the cove, Young said: "This guy is a complete freak. He never tried to holler or anything. He just wanted me out of there so bad."
Asked to describe the area and the man's dwelling, Young said: "The cove is all the way up into War Eagle it's almost the end bay in War Eagle on the right. It looks like a farm house. He lives up on top of a hill about 200 yards away. He was watching down toward the water."
Young noted he contacted FLW Outdoors tournament director Bill Taylor with news of the alleged shooting prior to today's tournament meeting.
Reporting on this story will continue if and when new details emerge.
> BassFans may remember that Young, a Kentucky Lake legend, survived a terrible boating accident in October 2007 at the Kentucky Lake BFL Regional that resulted in lacerations to his head and a neck injury that required surgery. His accident apparently occurred when his boat contacted underwater structure. Young's motor became dislodged and struck him. His partner was uninjured.