EAGLE GROVE, Iowa — A dog stepped on a 12-gauge shotgun Wednesday, shooting a hunter in the back with bird-shot pellets.

William Rancourt, 36, of Lebanon, N.H., was nearly 22 yards away when a hunting dog stepped on the trigger guard of a shotgun lying on the ground, causing it to discharge, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Rancourt sustained injuries that weren't considered life-threatening but still were "fairly moderate," said Ken Lonneman, a state conservation officer.

Rancourt was conscious, alert and able to walk when he was transported to Trinity Hospital in Fort Dodge, Iowa. As of 4 p.m. CT Wednesday, X-rays were being performed to ensure all pellets had been removed from his back, Lonneman said.

"Shotguns are extremely dangerous at close range," Lonneman said. "In this case, there was a good distance between the muzzle and the wound, but if the victim had been closer, his injuries would have been more severe."

Rancourt and his party — which included two dogs, two Iowans and another man from New Hampshire — had been pheasant hunting at about 1:20 p.m. in the Boone River Greenbelt Conservation Board Public Hunting Area in southwestern Wright County, Iowa, when one of the men placed his shotgun on the ground without unloading.

The incident is a good reminder to all hunters to both unload and double check the safety before putting any guns down or leaving them unattended, Lonneman said.

Iowa shotgun deer season starts Saturday, and the agency cautions hunters that hunting areas will be busy this weekend.

"I would like to remind all hunters that no matter what season it is, but especially during a busy season like the one we are going into, to please be sure to identify your target as well as what's beyond your target before firing," Lonneman said.