Hunting: Decisions were irresponsible

Safety with weapons is every hunter’s responsibility — which is what makes it so discouraging to see that responsibility abdicated three times in less than two weeks here in Chautauqua County.

The first incident came roughly two weeks ago when two Kennedy men were charged with illegal discharge of a firearm after allegedly shooting their weapons less than 300 feet from a Kennedy home. Then came the tragic death of Rosemary Billquist of Sherman when a neighbor allegedly mistook the woman for a deer while hunting after sunset. Finally, an Ohio man is alleged to have mistaken a truck for a deer last week, firing a shot from a 7mm high-powered scoped rifle that hit the vehicle’s front fender on the driver’s side just a few feet from the cab.

For now, last week’s incidents are considered accidents. None of the hunters intended to cause harm to anyone, but calling these incidents accidents is a misnomer because every one of these incidents could have been avoided with the use of simple common sense.

Anyone who is going to go into the woods with a loaded gun has a responsibility to be certain of their target before shooting the weapon. They also have a responsibility to know they are close to someone’s home before firing. Hunters aren’t the only ones inhabiting our rural areas. Those who spend their time hiking or who choose to live in rural areas are trusting hunters to hunt responsibly, and there should be consequences for anyone who breaks that trust. One of those consequences should be criminal charges.

Three of the four hunters involved in the cases we mentioned now face criminal charges. Authorities are looking at them in the fourth case.