4 hunters die in the field on opening weekend; others injured

  • Article by: ASSOCIATED PRESS
  • Updated: November 8, 2011 - 7:01 AM

There also were numerous injuries on the first weekend of firearms season and several citations for illegal baiting.

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Four Minnesota hunters died in the field on the opening weekend of the deer firearms season, one of natural causes, authorities said on Monday.

A juvenile was killed when he accidentally shot himself Monday in Kanabec County, the Sheriff's Office reported. No more information on the accident, which happened just before 3:30 p.m. near Brunswick Township, was available late Monday.

A 51-year-old hunter from Sartell who fell from his deer stand in north-central Minnesota was fatally shot by his own gun, authorities said Monday. His body was found about 10 a.m. Sunday near his stand in Beulah Township, near Outing, after authorities were alerted that a hunter was missing, according to the Cass County Sheriff's Office. His identity has not yet been released.

Saturday's death near Saum of Gene A. Berthiaume, 72, of St. Paul, was determined Monday to be a result of natural causes, not injuries from falling from his deer stand as had been suspected Sunday, according to Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp.

Arthur Joseph Knafla died about 9:45 a.m. Saturday in Lavell Township, southeast of Hibbing, when his clothing caught fire as he lit a propane heater in his stand. The 84-year-old Maple Grove man fell from the stand when his clothes began burning, the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said.

Several hunters were injured in falls from tree stands, one seriously enough to require evacuation by helicopter, while a few were injured by firearms, the Department of Natural Resources and local authorities reported.

Conservation officer Jim Robinson of Slayton reported that one hunter had his thumb shot off by a member of another party when a deer ran between two groups, while another hunter was injured when his shotgun barrel exploded because the muzzle was plugged.

A Sartell man accidentally shot himself in the leg as he was getting situated in his tree stand near Lengby on Saturday, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said. And a Clear Lake man was accidentally shot in the arm Saturday by a fellow hunter near Clear Lake, the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office reported.

In other incidents, a bullet smashed the rear window of a pickup truck in Mahnomen County on Saturday but did not injure the driver. Investigators confiscated a rifle to see whether it was the source.

Moorhead police were investigating after a bullet struck a house near Willow River, in city limits. Also, one hunter in that area thought his rifle was unloaded as he put it in its case, but the gun discharged and the bullet destroyed the radiator of a nearby vehicle, the DNR said.

Numerous people were cited for illegal baiting. At a Park Rapids-area nursing home, a hunter set up a blind near a feeder outside a picture window where residents would watch deer . The hunter was escorted off the property by two wardens and two deputies, the DNR said.

At least one deer fought back. One hunter near Fergus Falls reported being rammed and knocked to the ground by a buck that was missing half its antlers, the DNR said. The hunter was not hurt, but the deer was shot by another member of his hunting party.

Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.

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