Duluth hunter makes ethical decision in tricky situation
Duluth's Dave and Charlie Nelson spent the opening day of Minnesota's deer season hunting near Brimson, where they've hunted for more than 30 years. "Typically, we head into the woods to be in our stands 45 minutes before the legal shooting time,...
Duluth's Dave and Charlie Nelson spent the opening day of Minnesota's deer season hunting near Brimson, where they've hunted for more than 30 years.
"Typically, we head into the woods to be in our stands 45 minutes before the legal shooting time, which was 6:30 a.m. this year," Charlie Nelson wrote in an e-mail to the News Tribune Wednesday. "At 6:45, two seasoned deer hunters, between 70 and 75 years old, walked past me and continued down the trail toward my brother.
"We both passed the silent nod. In deer hunting, 'the nod' means, 'Good luck. I hope you get your deer.' Hunting on state land, those encounters go with the territory."
At 9:30, Dave heard Charlie shoot once. But a few seconds later he heard another shot.
"Did he miss the first?" Charlie wrote. "Was there a second deer? I called him on the radio to confirm and to see if he needed any help. He replied, 'Nice doe, a solid shot behind the shoulder. Won't be an issue.'"
Charlie asked him about the second shot, and Dave told him he thought it was one of the older men farther up the trail.
Dave climbed down from his stand and began tracking the doe. The blood was bright red, Charlie said, and there was plenty of it.
"He tracked the doe about 100 yards and could see an orange-clad figure standing over the deer," Charlie wrote.
Sure enough, it was one of the older men.
"As Dave walked toward the hunter, the older gentleman looked up, smiled and said, 'I heard you shoot, so I looked up the hill and saw this doe running right at me," Charlie wrote. "'She stopped, so I shot her and down she went. Nice one, huh?' Dave smiled and said it was."
Understand, a lot of arguments have taken place over deer like this one, shot first by one hunter and then by a second. It isn't unusual for both hunters to claim the deer as their own.
But that wasn't going to happen this time.
"Dave asked if he could help field-dress the deer for him ...," Charlie wrote. "After the doe was dressed, Dave shook the guy's hand, congratulated him with a smile and walked back up to his stand."
Charlie thinks what his brother did epitomizes the spirit of sportsmanship in a deer hunter. Most hunters probably would second that.
SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune outdoors writer and columnist. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter at "samcookoutdoors."