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Minnesota deer hunter hospitalized after accidentally shooting himself in Polk County

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A hunter who shot himself while in a tree stand Saturday near Lengby, Minn., remains in a Fargo hospital.

But according to a Polk County Sheriff's Office spokesman, the wound did not appear life-threatening at the time.

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Brian James Zwilling, 22, of Sartell, Minn., had climbed into his tree stand about 10 feet off the ground about 4:40 p.m. Saturday and "was getting situated," when he accidentally shot himself in the upper thigh with .44-caliber Ruger handgun he was using to hunt deer, according to the sheriff's office.

"It went in and out and didn't hit any main artery," a dispatcher said. "It was hardly bleeding."

A local farmer lifted a deputy up to the stand using a tractor loader to rescue the wounded hunter. An Essentia Health ambulance took him to the hospital in nearby Fosston, Minn., and he was airlifted to Essentia's hospital in Fargo.

A supervisor at Essentia in Fargo on Sunday said Zwilling did not want any information about his condition released.

Sartell is near St. Cloud, Minn.

At least two Minnesota hunters died Saturday while hunting.

- Gene Berthiaume, 72, of St. Paul, apparently fell from his deer stand in Beltrami County near Blackduck, Minn. About noon Saturday, Berthiaume's hunting partners found him under his stand, unconscious and called 911. Emergency medical workers from Blackduck gave him CPR, but he died at the scene, according to The Associated Press.

- Also Saturday, an 84-year-old man hunting in St. Louis County near Duluth died when his clothing caught fire as he tried to light a propane heater in his deer stand and then jumped or fell out of the stand.

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