Moose hunter dead from accidental shooting north of Manokotak

Sep 9, 2017

Brian L. Heinrichsen, 65, killed after accidentally shooting himself with .454 caliber Casull pistol at the start of a moose hunt north of Amanka Lake.  AST says Heinrichsen lives in Puyallup, Washington.

KDLG: A fly-out moose hunting trip ended in tragedy Friday when Brian Leslie Heinrichsen, 65, accidentally shot himself in the chest while pulling a large caliber pistol from a shoulder holster, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Heinrichsen and his hunting partner had arrived at a small, remote lake approximately eight miles north of Amanka Lake that day, and may have still been unpacking their gear, said AST Sgt. Luis Nieves. The victim has hunted in the area before, and he and his hunting partner were lifelong buddies, he said.

The partner, not named by authorities, used a satellite phone to call for help, but the victim was the one who had more experience and apparently also the numbers to call, including for their air taxi Tikchik Airventures. The man called the only number he could find, which was for concierge service on the back of an Alaska Airlines credit card. According to AST, an Alaska Airlines service operator was able to contact the Dillingham dispatcher and Tikchik Airventures to report the incident.

Rick Grant from Tikchik Airventures quickly took state troopers to the scene. According to the investigation, Heinrichsen was likely pulling a .454 Casull pistol from a shoulder holster when he accidentally fired a round into the left side of his chest. The gunshot ended his life within moments, said AST. The .454 Casull is larger and more powerful than the .44 Magnum, and is carried by some hunters for self-defense against bears. 

His body was recovered from the scene and flown back to Dillingham, where it was transported to Anchorage for an autopsy.

AST said Heinrichsen listed Hoonah as his address, but contacted his next of kin in Puyallup, Washington, where they believe he now resides.

Reach the author at dave@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.