Sunday, January 8, 2012

To Charge or Not to Charge

Luckily, so far (knock on wood), this hunting season has been pretty uneventful as far as accidents are concerned. I have had exactly one (knock on wood some more) accident to investigate. But this one simple property damage did leave me with a little dilema. "To charge or not to charge.."

In this accident two separate homes were shot with two different shotgun slugs. Five people had been hunting a section on the outskirts of a small town, which consists mostly of large, expensive new homes--urban sprawl to the two cities situated on either side.

Usually in these types of accidents I never find out who the shooter was. The home owners arrive home after the fact to discover holes in their houses. But this time one of the home owners was home at the time the house took the slug (luckily the person was in the room next to the one that was shot). So, as soon as the houses were shot, the hunters were gathered up by the sheriff's department and were waiting for me at a house down the road from those that were shot.

I pulled up to talk to the hunters. They had already determined who the shooter was- a man in his fifties. The first thing he said to me was, "I didn't see any houses. We were a quarter mile away! How was I supposed to know?" His story was that he was shooting at a deer that was running up a hill (in the direction of the housing development).

We went to the spot where he was when he took five shots at the running deer. The empty casings lay on the ground 450 yards from the first of the victim's homes. BUT, the rooftops of the houses WERE visible from the shooting location. When I pointed this out to the shooter he said, "Yeah, I guess so."

Next I went to the houses that were hit. The first house took a slug through the siding, through the shower wall and  landed in the middle of the bathroom floor. Thankfully, the elderly woman who was home at the time happened to be in the neighboring room (though she told me that she had been in the bathroom a lot that day working on cleaning it).

The other home was shot through the bedroom. The slug burst through the bedroom window located above the bed and lodged in a wall on the other side of the room. Nobody was home at this house, but by the time I arrived, they were home- a family of four with two small children.

So, the charge or not to charge. In this state you have to discharge a firearm outside of 200 yards if you do not have permission to be closer, so the hunter was legal in that sense. The only option I had was "Reckless discharge of a firearm."

So, you tell me, is it reckless to discharge a firearm at a deer that is running up a hill when you are 450 yards from a home?

I will tell you in my next post what the county attorney told me.


  1. I might get flack for it, I am no hunter and have very little gun training. The one thing about guns my dad taught me is if you pull the trigger you are responsible for what you hit.

    If the guys pays the homeowners for damages I would not charge him with being wreck-less, I just have to say thank god nobody got hit.

  2. I would say it is reckless. My neighbor had his skylight shot out, the local warden was not amused, gave him (the shooter) some paperwork, but you can't charge a guy for being stupid. Usually we let nature do that.
    Somehow I think the county attorney is going to say something stupid.

  3. Reckless endangerment! I am a hunter, and you never ever fire a gun without knowing where the bullet will land. Only pure luck that someone wasn't killed.

  4. Shooting at a running deer? hmmmm we don't do that either where Im from.. sounds like a very undisciplined irresponsible 50 yr old to me-

  5. Unless houses are responsible for wearing blaze orange, I say charge the hunter...although I doubt the County Attorney will feel the same.

  6. The bullet needs to be aimed at a target (preferably a deer in the woods). And farther away from homes, in my opinion, to avoid any type of accident.

  7. Shooting at a deer running on a hill with houses visible in the background? Come on, the guy was clearly not being safe.

    Ignorance (or in this case stupidity) is not innocence.

  8. I was always taught "Know what lies behind your target before shooting at your target." I would have never taken that shot, definitely reckless!

  9. Absolutely Reckless! Like A Reel Lady said, one of the 10 commandments of hunter safety is to be sure of your backstop. Do you agree that all hunting 'accidents' are because one of the 10 commandments of hunter safety is broken?

    Charge him. And make him take hunter safety again.

  10. I personally would charge him. Definitely reckless and only by luck did someone not get hurt.

  11. Absolutely charge...even if he couldn't see the tops of the houses he would have been shooting blind over the hill. Would he have been charged if hit someone instead of just a wall?

  12. What is the relationship among them? Subsequent let me tell you about that.

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  14. Shooting at a deer running on a hill with houses visible in the background? Come on, the guy was clearly not being safe.
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