Shooting in the Woods: He made it out alone!


Shooting in the Woods: He made it out alone! Part 1

My father always told us the story of how he returned from serving his county without being shot once and his first time out hunting he is shot in the hand. He returns home, decides to go hunting for food. He lived in the rural area of New Hampshire called Sutton Mills, a suburb of Concord, Merrimack, New Hampshire. In the 1950’s they didn’t think twice about going hunting alone on their own property or the woods surrounding them. Dad, Nelson William Stearns, did just that, went hunting along. [Big mistake on his part.]

Dad told us that while he was scoping out a deer, he was shot by a young lad first time out hunting. The lad ran off leaving my dad bleeding from his [right] hand. Dad found his way out of the woods. If he told us how, I don’t remember. He made it to the hospital. He had surgery on his hand. [More about that surgery in another blog] He was told he would never use that hand again. They didn’t know my father. He learned how to use it. He became a mechanic and what he called himself a “Jack of All Trades.” He continued hunting, teaching others how to hunt safely [bright colors a must in the woods,] doing what ever needed to be done.

I found one of the articles I was searching for in regards to shooting listed on Genelaogy Bank. I used the search “Nelson Stearns” exact in their data base. It show 715 archives results. I narrowed the search by adding the years 1930-1988 showing 22 newspaper articles and 7 probate result. The 15th article was about a young boy of 19 years being faced with charges of abandoning a man he shot in a hunting accident.

I now know the name of the man my father always said he felt sorry for, Louis M. Putney from Willow St., Waltham, Massachusetts. Dad mentioned that the young man must be badly traumatized for accidentally shooting a person while hunting. He hoped the young man learn the importance of hunting safely; would return to hunting. It would be a sad thing if he didn’t. My father was a forgiving man. He never held any ill feeling towards that young man.

My father returned home from the army unharmed in the spring of 1955 to his young wife, Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns and 18 month old daughter, June Lee Stearns. When dad was shot, my mother was 6 months pregnant with twins. You will have to wait for the rest of the story in Part II. [It might be a little while before it is posted. I need to find the other news article about the surgery.]

Shot in the Woods
Shot in the Woods

Monday, December 5, 1955   Our Town, Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts)   Page: 43, Para 4

Waltham- A Waltham youth faces charges of abandoning a man who was shot in a hunting accident. Lois M. Putney, 19, of Willow St., will be given a hearing Wednesday in New London District Court, New London, N.H. [New Hampshire]

A conservation officer said Putney left the scene of the accident yesterday in woods on Sutton, N.H. [New Hampshire,] without aiding Nelson Stearns, 26, of Sutton Mills.

Stearns is reported to have suffered a hand wound when Putney mistook him for a deer. The wounded man made his way alone out of the woods and to a hospital. Putney is free in $500 bail.

This entire product and/or portions thereof are copyrighted by NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004. Source:



“Our Town, Monday, December 5, 1955,” Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), electronic newspaper, archived, ( accessed 27 Jan 2016), p. 43, col. 1, para. 4.

Nelson and Shirley Stearns
Nelson and Shirley Stearns

Nelson and Shirley’s wedding photo in a hand carved, interlocked frame made by Nelson William Stearns, the man who could ever use his hand again. [No nails or glue used in the making of the frame.]



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