"Sadly, I can't begin to tell you how many times I have left shells in my gun while moving to a different location to hunt, or even wading around moving decoys between flights", Heckford wrote in his post.
"At approximately 9:40am, [we] 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", Mr Heckford said. In the midst of the chaos at this point, I ran over to Matt to assess what had happened. That's when the dog named Tito jumped in the truck bed, stepped on the gun's safety lock, then touched the trigger, according to Branch's friend, Micah Heckford: "Within two to three seconds [Branch] realized he was hit".
According to a GoFundme page set up to help with medical expenses, Branch is married with a 1-year-old son.
Matt Branch, who played football at LSU from 2008 to 2011, invited a group of friends to come to Eagle Lake in MS for a duck and deer hunt on land his family farms. "I was at the tailgate no more than 4 feet away from him".
"I would like to encourage everyone that reads this to take the time to not only double check themselves going forward, but take the time to double check everyone else you're hunting with as well".
Heckford, for his part, is now rethinking gun safety after the startling shooting. When first responders cut open his pant leg, it was filled with blood from where the bullet entered his leg.
He was later transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center where his leg was amputated.
'The opportunities for an accident are there and we just don't realize it, ' Heckford said.
He said Branch has since had the leg amputated and is expected to recover. "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". 'We think we're being safe, but are we?
There has been a GoFundMe page set up to help Branch, who played at LSU from 2009 until 2011 with current National Football League stars such as Odell Beckham Jr., Eric Reid, and Tyrann Mathieu.