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Hunting Guide’s Death Ruled Accidental

A hunting guide killed last fall during an outing in Queen Anne’s County was the victim of an accidental shooting, a Maryland Natural Resources Police investigation has concluded.

The investigation has been reviewed by Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson, who concurs with the findings. The active investigation has been suspended, pending developments or new evidence that would warrant another look at the case.

Marvin Bowen Coppage, 75, of Henderson was killed on Oct. 10 during a pheasant and chukar hunt, as he and his dog were flushing birds from the brush. Three of the clients are juveniles, part of a party that had hired Coppage, an employee of Schrader’s Outdoors Ltd.

The accident happened on private property off Ell Downes Road, near the Caroline County line. The property is permitted by the Department of Natural Resources as a regulated shooting area, where game birds are raised and released.

The investigation determined that Coppage was flushing birds from grassy brush, rising up to get them to fly and then ducking low before the boys fired. The boys, armed with two 20-gauge over/under shotguns and one 12-gauge over/under shotgun.

Two of the three boys fired at the rising birds, about six feet off the ground and about 20 feet away. Coppage was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 5 p.m. by Queen Anne’s County first responders. An autopsy performed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined he suffered a fatal brain injury.

Evidence does not indicate which boy fired the fatal shot and it is unlikely additional interviews or forensic investigation will result in a definitive answer, the Natural Resources Police said.

Records show one of the two boys had completed a hunter education safety course in his home state of Virginia in March 2015.

The department has met with members of the victim’s family to develop a tribute to honor Coppage’s legacy as an outdoors ambassador and mentor to a new generation of hunters.