This story out of New Brunswick, Eastern Canada is just too bizarre to let lie and explains why it is important to resist efforts to create ever broader "buffer zones" where firing a gun is prohibited.
The whole issue is that the guy is accused of firing a gun closer than the minimum 400 meters away from a residence. Look at the details of this story. The owner of the residence was out hunting himself and heard a shot that sounded like it was "close to his house." He took a day off from work to investigate the shot and found where a deer had been dressed 150 yards behind his house. He called the forest rangers who investigated and found blood near the house, measured the distance, found a spent shell a few yards away, and a crease in an Alder tree. They also found four wheeler tracks. They called in the dogs and tracked down a guy in his home. They also had an aerial photograph taken of the area. They confiscated the guy's rifle and his deer and put him in jail. All for firing a gun 150+ meters away from a residence where no one was home. The whole thing went to trial where the crew from Miami CSI presented forensic evidence from the deer autopsy and the judge decided that the guy was being less than truthfull about the whole thing so he found him guilty – of firing a gun closer than 400 meters away from a residence.
He was fined a couple of hundred bucks, probably lost his hunting license for a year – though I wasn't clear about that – and faced a month in jail if he didn't pay up. He also lost his rifle. No word on what happened to the deer carcass.
How on earth does this warrant so much attention? The aerial photography cost more than the fine and the value of the gun put together! And they probably have laws in Canada requiring that the gun be destroyed rather than sold to another hunter who might go out and abuse it like this guy did. The whole thing is just mind boggling. –JAK
Hunter guilty of discharging firearm too close to residence
Published Wednesday October 15th, 2008
Judge finds accused's testimony not credible
By Madeleine Leclerc
A hunter's version of events did not ring true for Grand Falls provincial court judge Jacques Dejsardins who found Gerald H. Sisson guilty on Sept. 30 of unlawfully discharging a firearm within 400 metres of a Burntland Brook residence on Oct. 22, 2007.
Judge Desjardins gave his decision in the case a day after Sisson's trial was completed on Sept. 29.
The issue was whether Sisson had shot a deer within 400 metres behind Erin Jenkins' residence or outside its perimetre. According to the Crown's case, the deer had been shot approximately 153 metres from the back of the residence, while Sisson offered evidence to the contrary during his trial.
"What was not in dispute was the fact that the deer's entrails were found 153 metres from the dwelling, a .08mm shell was found nearly 50 feet away or so near the entrails and blood spots near the house. In between the blood, entrails and shell was a stand of alders, one of which, two inches in diameter, had a fresh crease in it which appeared to have been made by a bullet," stated Judge Desjardins.
Conservation officers who surveyed the scene two days after the incident found the crease about three feet off the ground, indicating the path of travel of the bullet.
"Sisson admits to shooting a deer and dressing it at the scene and that the gun and shell were his," added Judge Desjardins. The gun was seized by officers on Oct. 26.
Sisson also admitted to transporting the deer on Route 385 to his home on a four-wheeler.
"The Crown's case evidence is circumstancial. No one actually saw him shoot the deer. Sisson claimed he was approximately 630 metres away when he shot the deer which ran off towards Jenkins' home."
"Erin Jenkins went hunting that same morning. He was about half a mile away when between 10:15 and 10:30 a.m., he heard a rifle shot which seemed close to his home. Fifteen minutes later, he heard another shot which seemed further away to the north," stated Judge Desjardins. "He returned home at noon for lunch. In the afternoon, he went to his deer stand about 500 metres from his home. He noticed tracks done by a four-wheeler in bushes and alders."
"The next day, he went to work. The third day, Oct. 24, he took the day off to investigate further what he had seen and heard. He tracked the four-wheeler tracks and came upon the deer entrails. He called conservation officers. Two showed up and after viewing the entrails, they called the dogmaster."
One of the conservation officers found the shell and observed the crease in the alder as well as the spots of blood closer to the home. They gathered evidence and took pictures of the scene.
"On Oct. 26, armed with a search warrant, officers went to Sisson's home. He was there with his wife and a third individual. Sisson was placed under arrest for discharging a firearm too close to a dwelling. The deer was seized. It had a bullet hole in the left front neck area. Officers also took aerial photos of the area and the house," said Judge Desjardins.
"Sisson had registered his deer in zone 6 on Oct. 22 and his wife had also registered a deer killed in zone 11. He apparently made a mistake when registering in zone 6 rather than zone 11. The road where Sisson lives divides the two zones," he added.
"Sisson told one of the conservation officers that he had dressed the deer at the location at 153 metres from the home. He knew he should not have dressed the deer there because it could have raised suspicions. He said the deer had jumped when shot and ran and ended there. Regarding the two shots which were heard, Sisson said he had fired the second shot to put the deer out of its misery. It was severely wounded. That was his story told to the conservation officer in his vehicle."
"Sisson gave a video statement the next morning when the discussion took a turn. Sisson said he had lost a lot of sleep and was afraid to lose his hunting license for a year. He said he had paced off 620 yards and shot once and hit the deer. He refused to give a further statement. The conservation officer was left with two stories from Sisson," stated Judge Desjardins who added he had to decide on the credibility issue stemming from Sisson's testimony.
"It is quite apparent that the crease in the side of the alder was fresh and moist and showed the trajectory of the round which went through it, causing the somewhat larger entry wound in the deer's neck. After hitting an alder, a bullet will start to fragment. An autopsy on the deer found one bullet hole consistent with Sisson's only shot. Four to five ribs were broken and there was no exit wound. The rest of the bullet was possibly in the entrails."
"A shell was extracted from the rifle near where the entrails were found. In many hunters' experience, if a hunter shoots a deer, if it doesn't drop right away, it will run. A hunter will track it and hopefully will come upon it and be ready. It makes sense that while laying in wait, he would eject the first shell and put a second shell in the chamber, ready to fire in case the deer jumps up again. It is a normal hunting practice. It makes sense," stated Judge Desjardins.
"Sisson testified he saw the deer about 620 yards, shot it and that it jumped. He sat and waited 10 to 15 minutes before he began to track it and saw it was dead. He ejected the shell from the gun and went to dress the deer and retrieve the four-wheeler and left with the deer."
"It doesn't make sense to me. What a coincidence that he would track for about 500 metres or so, see the dead deer, eject the shell and dress the deer and yet between the shell and the deer's entrails, there is an alder which was altered. The crease is consistent with a travelling trajectory (not an axe cut) and it is fairly fresh at the exact same location."
"He gave different versions of his story," he said in rejecting Sisson's testimony. "It seems he was motivated to not lose his license to change his story. As for the second shot, and this is pure speculation on my part, but it could have been his wife shooting her own deer," concluded Judge Desjardins.
Sisson, who is currently working in Slave Lake, Alberta, was fined $1,000 and a $200 surcharge which he must pay before Dec. 31 or serve 27 days in jail in default of payment. Judge Desjardins also ordered the forfeiture of the seized firearm, a .7mm-08 calibre Remington rifle.