The pursuit of happiness and deer

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This fall I was fortunate enough to harvest a nice nine-point buck while deer hunting in northern Minnesota. He happened to stroll by while I, decked in blaze orange, was concealed in a deer stand with my loaded .243. In case there was any question about it, the Minnesota Court of Appeals recently confirmed that even though I wasn’t traipsing through the woods in search of that deer, I was indeed  “pursuing” it, such that I needed the license I’d previously bought at Fleet Farm. The court’s confirmation came in the case of State v Schmid. In that case, a game warden found Roger Schmid in a deer blind in a deer-hunting area during hunting season while dressed in blaze orange clothing and armed with a shotgun loaded with deer slugs. When the warden questioned Schmid about why he did not have the appropriate hunting license, Schmid claimed he was hunting in a deer-hunting party with others, that he was actually only nature watching and that he was coyote hunting rather than deer hunting. Unpersuaded, the warden cited Schmid for hunting without a license. Under Minnesota law, one must have a license to “take” deer, and “taking” deer is defined to include “pursuing” deer. Schmid challenged the ticket, claiming that the evidence did not establish that was actually “pursuing” deer. Relying on a number of sources ranging from the Bible  and Field and Stream magazine to state statutes and regulations, the court rejected Schmid’s argument and upheld the ticket:

We believe that the legislature understood that different animals are hunted using different methods and that a person may “pursue” an animal to fire on it using any pursuit method, whether aggressively or passively. Fairly and reasonably applying the statute to deer hunting, pursuit occurs when the hunter has taken action to close the distance between himself and the deer by entering its habitat to shoot it; that the hunter intentionally intercepts his prey rather than overtakes it from behind does not disqualify the conduct as pursuit.

Thus, in case you ever wondered, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has confirmed that if you are going to dress in blaze orange and sit with your loaded gun in deer blind in a deer-hunting area during hunting season, you’ll need a valid deer hunting license to do it. Happy hunting! For more information about this article, please contact me at [email protected].

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney. Copyright 2013 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA
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