Monday, January 9, 2012

A Word to the Wise

I'm glad to see that almost everyone here shared my thoughts regarding this "accident". Working alone all the time, sometimes I question my own perspective.

The first thing that struck me when I arrived on the scene were the small children watching tv in one of the houses. ALL I could think about was, "What if..." If I had been their mother, I doubt I would've slept that night. Living in town, I'm sure it is easy to take your safety for granted, at least in terms of hunting accidents.

I was also rather irritated that the hunter immediately dismissed his own actions. He excused them because of the distance. And actually, another officer that came to assist me that day also dismissed his actions. That day the officer said to me, "Well, you don't have anything- he was outside 200 yards." My immediate thoughts were, "But wait...that doesn't seem right".

We teach not to shoot at deer (or anything) that is running up a hill or standing at the top of a hill. Why? Because you don't know what may be coming up the other side. We teach to look beyond your target. Either the hunter didn't pay any attention to what was beyond his target, or he just didn't think his 12 ga. Remington 870 would shoot a slug that far. Well, guess what...a word to the wise- if you lob a slug at an angle, it goes a hell of a long ways.

I told the hunter that he was lucky he didn't kill someone in the process of discovering how far a slug will travel. At that distance it still packed enough punch to go through the siding and shower wall of one house, and the window and drywall of the next house.

And, lastly...if you haven't hit the deer in the first four shots, what are the chances you are going to hit it with a Hail Mary fifth shot? I'd say the chances are slim.

So, I made an appointment with the county attorney. After describing the incident to him, and letting him research "case law" he decided that he didn't feel comfortable prosecuting a "reckless" charge. Careless? Stupid? Yes. But "Reckless", no. Unfortunately sometimes the law works against us. Because of the definition of "reckless" he didn't think he could get a conviction. But my opinion is...isn't it worth a try?

Another word to the wise...it is pretty easy to blame law enforcement sometimes. Why didn't the cop arrest the guy? Why didn't the game warden charge him with this or that? Sometimes it is out of our hands. My county attorneys office is a never-ending source of frustration for me. If I moved one county east or west, they would prosecute, but not here. The county attorney only wants to take time with cases he is sure to win. I guess I realize they are busy with big deal things like murder and rape, but it would still be nice to have fish and game stuff taken seriously for once.

So, if your house is on the edge of town, I guess I would take the sarcastic "advice" of one of the commenters and outfit it a blaze orange vest.

11 comments:

  1. Is he at least being charged for damaging personal property? the home owners are not responsible for that.

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  2. Oh my goodness Howard...I don't blame you for having no sympathy! It just makes no sense that people can get away with this kind of action. And Daniel- I think the shooter's insurance company will have to pay for the damage. The home owners called to get copies of the accident report that I filled out which states my opinion that the shooters actions were reckless. So, it would be a shame if they have to pay for it themselves.

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  3. FC, I always feel for fish and game law enforcement. I spend a lot of time in the field as a photographer, and have reported my share of wildlife violations. I've also had a few violent and threatening encounters just by virtue of being alone in an area with armed humans. When that happens, my thoughts race to the situations you guys deal with *all* of the time. If I could, I'd change the law across the board, to over-staff and way-over-compensate fish and wildlife departments and parks departments. So many of us appreciate (and count on) your difficult work.

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  4. It's a fine line. Same circumstance but put a victim into one of those houses. Now what would the CA do? The case is still the same, but different outcome, Should they both be treated the same? I say yes.
    Still reinforces my thought that I should break out an M60 and return fire.

    I've watched many law enforcement officers do the dance, and wondered about the way some DA's work or don't work a case and how a judge decides.

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  5. Very interesting. It's refreshing and encouraging to know that the people on the other side of the badge are "real people". Sometimes we just assume all cops are the same- no matter your affiliation. I'm a student that is studying the environment, and as an elective I took a Wildlife CSI course taught by a Dept of Environmental Conservation officer. It was VERY interesting to learn the ins and outs of forensics and to hear his stories. I'm assuming most if not all of us students in his class wanted to do right by the environmental law.

    I'm a new follower of your blog, and I was interested in hearing another woman's POV from the field!

    Cheers!

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  6. FC,
    What a shame....You have every right to be frustrated.

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  7. Incredible FC! We don't have that here, hunting I mean, to anything like that extent. And reading this I'm glad about that.

    Too bad they wouldn't prosecute that asshole.

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  8. Well IMO if it matters is that the deer werent running up a hill, they had to be running along the top silhouetted against the sky for the bullets to hit the houses because if they were going up a hill the bullets would of hit the hill even if the guy was a bad shot.I think he just didnt think the slug would go that far.

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  9. Just read these in reverse order - I'm with Coyote, he shot at a deer either at or very near the ridge line. High on the stupid meter (especially given that the houses were visible) and borderline reckless depending on how the law reads in your state. Seems like throwing some sort of infraction his way, even if the state declines to prosecute, would document the incident for what is sure to be a repeat offense.

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  10. AS a hunter ed instructor with only 16 hours to teach our students it doesn't matter how many times we say it or preach it, they still must practice it. Even the shoot, don't shoot video goes over this exact scenario and people still don't get it.

    I feel your frustration and wish it was legal to smack these folks upside the head as it might just get their attention.

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