Chad Gillman, 51, was hunting early Sunday morning when a 12-gauge shotgun — held by his nephew — accidentally discharged.

BENJAMIN — A close friend of the Benjamin man who died in an accidental shooting this weekend described him as a caring person and "a golden neighbor."

"Everyone called him the mayor of Benjamin because he was always looking out for everybody," said Kurt Madsen, who's lived just up the road from 51-year-old Chad Gillman for the past two years.

Gillman was hunting with his brother-in-law and 9-year-old nephew early Sunday morning, police said. They were in a ditch waiting for geese when the 12-gauge shotgun — which the nephew was holding — accidentally discharged. Gillman was struck in the stomach. At 9 a.m., doctors pronounced him dead at Mountain View Hospital in Payson. Police are investigating the incident as an accidental shooting.

The Utah Legislature in 2006 removed all age limits for hunting small game, which includes birds. In 2007 they reduced the age at which a minor can get a big-game hunting license from 14 to 12 years old.

Over the past few days, Madsen said, he's remembered Gillman as a man who embodied the ideal neighbor from the first day they met.

Madsen met Gillman two years ago as the family moved in next door. As Madsen lugged boxes from the moving van to his house, he heard a strong, loud voice calling, "Hello, neighbor!"

He turned and saw Gillman standing and waving from his property two acres away.

"That started the whole thing," Madsen said.

The two families quickly bonded. Madsen and Gillman would go hunting and ride horses together. They watched over each other's property when one was out of town. And Madsen said his children frequented the Gillman residence to ride horses in their arena and, Madsen added with a chuckle, "to eat their stuff."

But Gillman didn't withhold his friendly nature from anyone.

"If he didn't know you, he was going to get to know you," Madsen said.

Last winter, the Gillmans and Madsens flew to Mexico on a family vacation. On the way to their hotel, Gillman managed to convince the driver to pull over so he could buy beverages for everyone in the bus.

"That was just his style," Madsen said.

Gillman had a loud, appealing personality and a sharp, witty sense of humor, Madsen said. He was the kind of person who could say, "Get out of here," and correctly intone the words so people would know he was being facetious.

"He was good with words," Madsen said. "He knew when to call the kettle black or say the right thing to make people laugh."

Gillman's unexpected death leaves a hole in the community, Madsen said.

"He's going to be missed by a lot of people," he said. "He's got a lot of friends."

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