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If You Go Into The Woods Today

Several years ago, an American hunter mistook two friends for a big game animal in northern Alberta. The hunter shot both men as they sat on a parked all-terrain vehicle.

The hunter was cleared by local courts “of hunting in a manner endangering other persons.”

If offing a couple of guys isn’t hunting in a manner endangering other persons, I don’t know what would be considered grounds to make a charge like that stick.

Maybe being a bad shot constitutes criminal activity. It’s a moot point in the hunter’s case because he proved to be a superb marksman by killing both men — brothers — with a single bullet.

One might forgive the hunter for shooting the brothers if he had a vision problem, but since he was able to nail the pair with one shot and had a hunting license we can assume his eyesight is pretty good, right?

Nope. In Alberta you can buy a big game hunting license if you are legally blind. That’s correct:  it’s possible to be blind and a great hunter.

Almost nothing disqualifies the dedicated hunter. Not only could you be legally blind and get a license, you could also be spastic. You pay your money and gets your license. I feel sorry for anyone with physical handicaps. I don’t, however, think they should be encouraged to operate big game rifles.

The simple act of shooting someone will not disqualify you for a hunting license in Alberta. (However, if you run over a moose with your car, you could forfeit your driver’s license. And you would have a bad driving record.)

You might think that the American hunter set some kind of record, killing two people with a single shot. Well, don’t expect to see the hunter in the Guinness Book of World Records.

In British Columbia, a hunter arose one morning near Macleod Lake. He spied a moose swimming toward him. He raised his trusty rifle and drilled “the moose.” The moose was three people in a canoe and the hunter killed the trio with a single shot. I bet they were surprised. Had they lived they would have been even more surprised to learn that their hunter was set absolutely free.

Every year dozens of people are killed or maimed, mistaken for big game. People foolishly wander into areas where hunters stalk their prey. Other victims might be hanging up their wash and mistaken for bighorn sheep. They might be riding in an automobile and be taken for bear. They might be shagging in a pup tent and inadvertently shot because they look like mating elk. Hunters often dispatch people in national parks. Not very sporting.

Hunters don’t always shoot people. A friend of mine swears that his uncle painted “bull” on his prize Hereford the day before hunting season. He found the animal with a bullet in its head and the word “dead” in front of the word “bull.” Hunters are a laugh a minute.

Even hunters are shot, mistaken for fastidious moose wearing red vests.

Only one lesson seems evident. If you murder someone and the law catches you, you’ll probably serve life.

However, if you kill your wife, husband or anyone else while hunting you’ll be fine. The courts make it easy for you to prove you were not endangering people simply because you shot them or blew off one or several of their appendages. Next year you’ll get another hunting license.

A few words of advice. If you don’t want to get shot this fall, leave Canada. If you must stay, avoid canoeing with two other passengers. And to be extra safe, trade in your all-terrain vehicle for flak jackets.

The same rules will apply next year but the weapon that kills you will be registered by our ever-watchful Canadian government.

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