A tragic hunting accident claimed the life of a Blountstown man Friday in South Carolina.
C.L. Capps, Sr., 74, died at the scene of the accident on private hunting land in Ridgeland, SC after sustaining two gunshot wounds.
Sources say Capps was with longtime hunting buddy, James “Pot” Shuler, of Bristol. The pair took off on Thursday and enjoyed a great day of hunting Friday before the tragedy occurred.
“He had shot two deer that day,” says C.L.’s daughter, Cindy Capps Lollie. Later in the afternoon, Capps and Shuler continued hunting. “Pot said the last thing he heard daddy yell was, ‘Big buck, James, big buck!’”
Cindy says Shuler shot and hit the deer, then yelled to her father. When Capps failed to answer, Shuler went to where he had been standing which was at an angle to Shuler’s right. He found his lifelong friend on the ground. With no blood, he assumed Capps had suffered a heart attack. An off-duty game warden on the property thought the same thing and summoned help. Capps was soon pronounced dead.
However, approximately two hours later, the medical examiner was on the scene checking the body and discovered what had actually caused Capps’ death. “He rolled him over and saw a spot under his arm,” Cindy reports. “That’s where the fatal buckshot entered.”
Cindy says the entire accident was a total fluke.
“Daddy was not even in the direct line of fire,” she remarks. “Mr. Pot shot straight to the deer and shot and killed the deer. Two stray pellets just veered off. One of them embedded in his leg and one went in under his rib cage. The one under his rib cage was the fatal one.”
Cindy says authorities measured 150 yards between Shuler and Capps. “Hunters and even the coroner said it’s unheard of for a shotgun pellet to go that far,” Cindy points out.
The Capps family stresses they have no animosity toward Shuler for what happened. “We absolutely harbor nothing toward him,” says Cindy. “It could easily have been the other way around.”
A 1956 graduate of Blountstown High School, C.L. Capps is well-known around Calhoun and Liberty counties. For years, he owned and operated Capps Well Drilling with his wife, Hazel, his high school sweetheart. In his retirement, he was a morning regular in the coffee crowd at Connie’s Kitchen and loved spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Less than a month ago, C.L. and Hazel lost their youngest child and only son, C.L. Capps, Jr., who died of cancer at the age of 44. Dealing with the loss of his child, Big C.L. thought a hunting trip might be a nice getaway.
“He was kind of reluctant to even go and leave my mama after such a short time,” says Cindy. “She encouraged him to go ahead and go. He was like, ‘Well, maybe this will help me get my mind off things.’ She reassured him she would be fine.”
Cindy says the way the accident happened makes her feel confident it was simply her daddy’s time to go. “God decided to take him doing just what he loved to do.”
Ironically, C.L.’s father was also 74 when he passed away. And, like his son, he died doing what he loved - fishing.
Dealing with two losses in less than a month, the Capps family extends their appreciation to all those who have and continue to stand beside them. “You take small communities for granted sometimes,” says Cindy. “But it’s a wonderful place to be when you have tragedy happen because people turn out to support you.”
C.L. Capps will be laid to rest today (Wednesday, Nov. 9) following a 10 a.m. service at the First Baptist Church of Blountstown. His complete obituary can be found on page 10. Coach Greg Jordan remembers this dedicated Tiger fan in his Coach’s Corner on page 7.