'In the midst of the chaos at this point, I ran over to Matt to assess what had happened, ' Heckford continued. He said the 12-gauge shotgun shell fired through the side of the truck and hit Branch's left thigh.
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.
"The gun shot", Heckford said.
GOFUNDMEBranch was a former lineman for Louisiana State University
According to Branch's friend, Micah Heckford, a group of friends were on an annual duck and deer hunting trip in MS on December 28 when the weird incident occurred. As quick as possible, we picked up Matt and loaded him into the Ranger.
The 6ft 6in Branch made 28 appearances for the Tigers from 2009 through 2011, seeing action at guard and tight end, before a series of injuries cut his career short during a junior season that saw LSU advance to the national championship game.
Heckford said Branch's trousers were "soaked in blood" but the group was able to transport him to a road accessible to first responders.
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Tito will be welcome on future trips, Heckford said, adding that Branch's cousin, David Joe Branch, doesn't fault the animal in any way.
"I think that's when it hit me how serious it was", Heckford told The Clarion Ledger. "It was at that point in time I realized how much he had bled".
A former college football star has had his leg amputated after his was shot by his dog while on a hunting trip in MS last month.
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Since the amputation Mr Branch has undergone additional complex surgical procedures with several more to come.
'The opportunities for an accident are there and we just don't realize it, ' Heckford said.
A GoFundMe campaign set up to assist with the costs of his medical care revealed that Branch suffered "damage to his femoral artery as well as other vital vascular and muscle tissue".
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