"It was at that point in time I realized how much he had bled".
'At approximately 9:40 a.m., David Joe, David, Matt and I were all standing around the bed of the [Polaris] Ranger and Matt had laid his gun down flat in the bed of the Ranger and walked around on the passenger side to finish loading up, ' Heckford told the Clarion Ledger.
When firefighters arrived they cut off Branch's waders and trousers.
The Mississippi Clarion Ledger reports a labrador retriever who had accompanied the group on the trip hopped into the bed of a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle and stepped on the safety of Branch's shotgun, firing at him from roughly four feet away.
Hunting buddy Micah Heckford said he was with Mr Branch and other friends at Eagle Lake, in the USA state of MS, for their annual duck and deer hunting trip on the morning of December 28.
The bullet shot through the bed of the vehicle and struck Branch's left thigh. "Everybody looked up. The first thing I saw was Matt, and within two to three seconds, he realized he was hit".
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The hunters called 911 and Heckford applied pressure to the wound to try and slow the bleeding while Branch was moved in a UTV to a road where they waited for first-responders.
Heckford said he has "known Matt for a very long time", and added, "He is big, he is tough, he is a fighter, and most importantly, he is no quitter".
Branch, who'll turn 30 on March 1, was taken to a medical facility in Vicksburg and later transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
Loved ones are raising money to cover medical costs for Matt Branch, who has a wife and one-year-old son. The opportunities for an accident are there and we just don't realise it. The funds raised will help Branch and his family with the sudden expenses the accident prompted. "Normally, sustaining these injuries while in such a remote geographic area would be life ending for most any human being", the page states, "but miraculously Matt has survived".
"There was 80+ years of hunting experience amongst our group", it reads. "If there's a shell in that gun, anything can happen".
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