We have previously discussed “buck fever” cases and the relative absence of civil or criminal penalties for fatal hunting accidents historically. This week saw another tragic case after Marine reservist Christopher A. Ochoa, 20, was shot while hiking with a friend. Gene Collier, 67, says that he though Ochoa was a bear while hunting with his grandson.
The 12-year-old grandson was with his grandfather at the time of the shooting. Collier, who had not been drinking, said that he was confused by Ochoa’s wearing dark clothing. Ochoa was due back for duty on Oct. 25.
Prosecutors indicated that they viewed the death as an accident and no charges have been filed in the case.
Yet, it would seem that Collier did not wait to have a clear view of the “bear” before shooting. That would seem a clear case of negligence. Yet, juries in hunting areas tend to excuse such accidents, particularly by younger hunters. For a prior column, click here. This may change as urban areas continue to encrouch upon traditional hunting areas and fewer people engage in the sport. Ultimately, however, the issue for a jury comes down to a “reasonable hunter” standard. This can create a sharp contrast on a regional level. In the 1980s, Karen Ann Wood, 37, was outside in her backyard shot in her own backyard when she was shot by Donald Rogerson, a deer hunter. Wood, the mother of twin baby girls died minutes later. However, a Bangor jury refused to indict the local hunter for manslaughter and many defended him saying that Wood created the danger by going out in her backyard wearing a brown jacket and white mittens. The Wood family had just moved to the area from Davenport, Iowa.
I discussed these buck fever cases in class as part of our discussion of the differences in the perception of reasonableness. The hunting cases are also relevant on the question of adult activities. Children engaged in adult activities are held to an adult standard. However, despite the need for a permit, some states do not treat hunting as an adult activity. Indeed, there has been a race to the bottom of the age scale in some states in lowering the age for hunters and companies are marketing “kiddie shotguns.”
Source; Statesman as first seen on Reddit.