Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2007

MN - Man shot while hunting

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October 26, 2007

WEST LAKELAND TOWNSHIP - A hunting accident Thursday in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Bayport Wildlife Management Area sent one man to the hospital and another to Washington County Jail.

According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the accident occurred around 5:30 p.m., when a 20-year-old Minneapolis man who was hunting squirrel with a .20-gauge shotgun heard rustling in some nearby bushes, turned and fired, hitting a 29-year-old Woodbury man who had been hunting deer with a bow.

County Sheriff Bill Hutton said the victim was struck with pellets from his lower back to his neck and sent to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he was treated and released last night.

Hutton said the hunters were standing 12 to 18 yards apart, separated by "heavy foliage," when the shooting occurred. They were both legally dressed, with the victim wearing full camouflage and the suspect wearing a blaze orange hat and vest. There is no indication drugs or alcohol were a factor in the incident.

The suspect was taken into custody and held on suspicion of reckless discharge of a firearm, a felony. The investigation was still underway this morning, but Hutton said he expected to submit a report to the Washington County Attorney's Office by noon.

"The suspect told us that he heard a rustling in the woods, turned and fired. He does not say that he saw any wildlife that he was shooting at, just heard rustling in the woods. ... The victim said there was no other small game that he was aware of in the area at the time," Hutton said. "Though we have no reason to believe this was anything other than an accident, obviously the suspect was not taking due care as a hunter."

The sheriff said the incident underscores the need to be cautious when hunting.

"There are lots of messages to take from this, the most important of which is due care," he said. "When you're out there hunting, there's no way that you can just fire in the brush because you hear something - you have to know exactly what your game is and what you're shooting at. This was an accident, but it was one that was due to a very reckless approach to hunting and there's no reason it should've ever happened."

Hutton said the Minneapolis man has no known ties to the area.

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