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Ryan Byrnes

Bullet to head won't keep Ely teen angler off the ice

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Ryan Byrnes heard gunshots coming from the north end of Shagawa Lake about 10 seconds before he was hit in the back of the head by a bullet that came into his fish house on Thursday.

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"It hurt pretty badly and bled a lot," said Byrnes, who is from Phoenix and studying at Vermilion Community College. "I had a good feeling it was a bullet right away."

Byrnes was fishing with his roommate, Cody Kuznia, who was in an ice house 10 to 15 feet away. Kuznia said he heard shots about 5:30 p.m., then he heard Byrnes drop and start yelling.

"He said he got shot in the head," Kuznia said. "He was bleeding from his head and there was blood in on his hands."

Anyone with information on the incident is encouraged to call the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office at (218) 749-6010.

They packed up their gear and took Byrnes to the emergency room in Ely, where Byrnes said the wound was cleaned and he was released. The bullet barely penetrated his skin, Byrnes said in an e-mail interview.

"[Everyone] said I was lucky as hell," Byrnes said. "It could have been a lot worse."

Byrnes tried to keep the .22-caliber bullet, but the police took it as evidence.

Kuznia wrote about the incident on the Web site www.lakestatefishing.com under the subject line "Craziest Fishing Story." Byrnes chimed in with a photograph of the knick in the back of his head and with this optimistic take on events:

"It was a crazy day of fishing. I caught my first walleye and I got shot for the first time."

Byrnes said this incident won't keep him away from Shagawa Lake.

"I will fish there every day of the week," he said. "The fishing was awesome."

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