HUNTING, BRAINS, SAFETY, AND SPORTSMANSHIP
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1997:
Joseph Berger, M.D., neurology
department chair at the University of Kentucky,
and behavioral neurologist Eric Weisman, M.D.,
also of Kentucky, rattled squirrel hunters in
August with a letter to The Lancet, the journal of
the British Medical Society, warning that all 11
patients they have treated for Creutzfeldt-Jakob
Disease in the past four years ate squirrel brains.
Berger and Weisman postulated that
eating squirrel brains might be an avenue of
transmission for the rare brain disease––a degenerative,
irreversible, always fatal malady apparently
related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
or “mad cow disease,” also resembling
kuru, found among human cannibals.
As hunting season began, brains of any
kind often seemed scarce. Near Chibougamou,
Quebec, a 61-year-old hunter killed an 81-yearold
blueberry picker on August 29, mistaking
him for a bear. Their names were not released.
Ronnie Thompson, 28, of Salem, Oregon, was
mistaken for a bear and killed by one of his three
hunting buddies on August 31 near Detroit,
Oregon. And Walter Lord, 66, mistook his son
Timothy, 35, for a bear, shooting him dead at
2:00 a.m. in their hunting camp alongside the
Tanana River in Alaska.
Four Connecticut men were charged on
September 3 with unlawful discharge of firearms
after bouncing buckshot off cars in the Danbury
Fair Mall parking lot while shooting geese––but
police said they had not broken any hunting laws.
Raymond Lee Mills, 29, of Hamilton,
Ohio, told police he killed Nathan Mays, 16,
because he mistook Mays for a squirrel on
September 9, after downing 12 to 15 beers.
Mays was Mills’ stepdaughter’s boyfriend.
Ashley James, 11, of Portland, Texas,
was killed by her brother, 14, on September 28,
as their father taught them to shoot doves. San
Patricio County sheriff said two days later that
the 14-year-old still had not been questioned
because he remained in shock.
Johnny Rosson, 38, owner of Rosson
Racing Stables, shot himself dead on October 6
while hunting groundhogs in Monroe County,
Michigan. Later that day, near Millersville,
Maryland, an apparent deer hunter peppered two
men with buckshot as they fished, then made a
getaway as the victims were helicoptered to the
Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.
A 17-year-old boy, name withheld,
died October 17 near Maple Lake, Minnesota,
after being shot in the stomach––apparently by a
friend––while duck hunting.
Justin Ables, 17, of Spokane, bled to
death October 18 after his father laid a loaded
hunting rifle on the tailgate of his truck, his 11-
year-old brother jumped up on the tailgate, and
the rifle discharged. Also on October 18,
bowhunter Leo St. Ours, 60, of Biddeford,
Maine, survived a shotgun blast to the face,
fired by an 11-year-old who mistook him for a
partridge. But Kyle Sease, 35, of Lexington
County, Georgia, was killed when his cousin
David Sease, 36, mistook him for a deer.
Timothy Bentley survived wounds to
the hands and neck on October 20 when his threeyear-old
son pulled the trigger of his shotgun as
they hunted ducks near Brigham City, Utah.
The larger hunting toll, by about two
million to one, is of animals rather than humans,
but hunters are still lobbying to make the count
even more lopsided.
Both houses of the Ohio legislature in
September approved a bill to let farmers to shoot
coyotes and groundhogs from their vehicles.
Now any farmer caught jacklighting deer from
his vehicle can claim he was coyote-hunting.
Florida hunters pushed during the summer
to be allowed to shoot birds in all 118 designated
state bird sanctuaries. The Florida Game
and Fresh Water Fish Commission voted unanimously
to let them kill birds in one, the South
Dade Bird Sanctuary, near Miami.
The Kentucky Fish & Wildlife
Commission asked the state legislature to allow
nuisance widlife trappers to sell raccoons and
foxes to chase pens, where the animals may be
hunted with dogs without chance of escape.
Wisconsin and Montana hunters are
clamoring to be allowed to shoot more sandhill
cranes, federally protected for 50 years, but
already hunted regularly in the Dakotas. There
are now about 37,000 sandhill cranes nationwide,
up from just 400 when they were first protected.
Native American religions, the pagan
religions of ancient Europe, and Celtic missionary
Christianity all recognized white deer as powerful
omens of good forture, if not harmed, and
of catastrophe if killed. One might hope that
bowhunter John Gagnon, of Lyman, Maine,
cursed all hunting to imminent extinction by
killing a white doe on October 2 who was something
of a community mascot.