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Mary Beenken, mbeenken@forumcomm.com, Published November 07 2010

Man hurt in deer hunting accident

BARNESVILLE, Minn. – A man shot himself in the wrist while hunting northeast of Barnesville, just as Minnesota’s deer season opened Saturday morning.

Kim Haggen, 52, was deer hunting when he tripped and fell, said Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist. Haggen was staying in Barnesville.

According to Bergquist, the gun discharged because the firearm’s safety was not on.

“Somehow, the barrel of the gun was pointed towards his wrist,” Bergquist said.

The Clay Country Sheriff, Life Flight, F-M Ambulance, and Hawley’s emergency response team responded to the call about 8 a.m. Haggen was not admitted to either Sanford Medical Center or Essentia Health in Fargo, and his condition is unknown.

No one from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources was available for comment Saturday.

According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, accidents like Haggen’s are unusual. Doug Leier, a biologist with the department, said many more accidents occur during upland game and pheasant hunting than during deer hunting.

“It’s somewhat inaccurate for people to assume that deer hunting is more dangerous than other kinds of hunting,” Leier said.

According to Leier, no hunting-related accidents or injuries have been reported this year. However, hunters are given 48 to 72 hours to report accidents to the department.

“The first person they call is not the Game and Fish Department; the first person they call is an ambulance,” he said.

According to Cordy Erck, supervisor for the southeastern region of the Game and Fish Department, the majority of complaints received by North Dakota officials are trespassing complaints. He said there is no way to predict how many accidents or violations the department will have to deal with each year.

“It can vary pretty dramatically from year to year,” Erck said.

Leier pointed out that, because of the nice weather lately, this deer season is a little unusual. Over 70 percent of this year’s corn crop has been harvested, as opposed to 5 percent this time last year, which greatly reduces the cover for deer. However, warmer temperatures also keep deer from moving around much, so they could be harder to find.

“The field conditions for the hunters aren’t quite as bad as they’ve been in the last couple years,” Leier said.

Leier said he is worried that nicer temperatures might make hunters lapse into less careful practices.

“Obviously with the nice weather, hunters tend to be more relaxed,” he said. “But at the same time, we don’t want hunters to fall into such a laid-back or relaxed attitude that hunter safety isn’t practiced.”

Both Leier and Erck said hunters need to remain alert and careful when it comes to handling firearms in order to prevent more accidents like Haggen’s from happening.

“It’s very important to maintain proper gun handling,” Erck said.

Leier agreed.

“We want people to still understand that they’re using firearms during a hunting season, but safety has to be the A-No. 1 priority,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Beenken at (701) 235-7311