By ANDREW WALLMEYER
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
"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.