(MN) Hunters raise $6,000 for girl whose horse was shot


January 31, 2003, 12:07 AM
Hunters raise $6,000 for girl whose horse was shot
Dennis Anderson
Star Tribune

Published Jan. 31, 2003 ANDY31

The check is in the mail.

In coming days, Lindsey Duffield, age 12, of Browns Valley, Minn., will walk to the mailbox and find a letter from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

In it will be a check for about $6,000.

Lindsey is the girl who on the opening day of deer season last fall was riding her favorite horse, a white half-Arab, half-Appaloosa mare named Princess, along her grandfather's driveway when a slug from a 12-gauge shotgun was fired in her direction.

Fortunately, the shot missed Lindsey. But it hit Princess in the right shoulder, just inches from the girl's leg.

The shot was fired by an 89-year-old neighbor of Lindsey's grandfather from a distance of 203 yards. The neighbor, a lifelong hunter and angler, was sitting in a chair on his property, according to a sheriff's report, watching for deer.

The accident was publicized throughout Minnesota and much of the nation. Most outraged were hunters themselves, many of whom believed they and the tradition of hunting had been tainted by the incident.

Lindsey's father, Dave, said after the accident that when he confronted the neighbor, the man said he had fired because he thought he had seen a deer. Whether the "deer" was Lindsey's mare or another horse -- a brown gelding that followed behind -- is unclear.

But the shot was fired.

At first, Lindsey didn't know her horse had been shot. It wasn't until she reached the end of the driveway that she realized the leg of her jeans were wet with blood.

Seeing that the horse was bleeding, Lindsey dismounted and led the mare into a nearby pasture. The horse immediately lay down.

Lindsey ran home, a distance of a mile or so.

The shooter's name won't be repeated here because no good will come of it. He apparently feels great remorse and has apologized to Lindsey and her parents.

Additionally, in court the man admitted fault and was convicted of reckless use of a gun, a misdemeanor. A 90-day jail sentence was stayed for one year. The man was told not to use a gun during that time, was fined $700 and ordered to pay restitution. He also was placed on supervised probation for one year.

Princess, meanwhile, is still alive, though her long-term usefulness is in doubt. Because the treating veterinarian believes the horse might not survive an operation, the slug remains in her shoulder.

Candy Duffield, Lindsey's mother, said the outlook for Princess is clouded.

"The vet says we'll know more by spring about whether Princess will make it, and, if she does, how much she will be able to move around," Candy Duffield said.

The approximately $6,000 Lindsey will receive from the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association represents donations by a few hundred people, mostly Minnesotans, who responded to a column I wrote on Nov. 15 suggesting that hunters and others contribute to a fund the deer hunters group had agreed to establish.

Some donations were $5 or less, and a few were sizable. Many were accompanied by notes of encouragement.

"We're sending those letters along to Lindsey with the check," said Mark Johnson, executive director of the deer hunters group.

I also received a lot of letters and e-mails in response to the fundraising idea. Most were positive, but not all. Some chastised me for wrongly directing attention from the responsible party -- the 89-year-old neighbor -- saying he should buy the girl a horse and pay whatever other damages she might incur.

"This is an era when no one takes responsibility for their actions," one man wrote. "He shot the horse. He should pay for it."

Johnson also heard from some of these people.

He and I concede the point that the shooter is the responsible party.

But Johnson and I also believe, and obviously so do the donators, that, if nothing else, Lindsey, as she grows older, will realize that people who contributed to the fund -- most of them hunters -- wanted to do what they could to make a bad situation better.

"Whether she uses the money to buy another horse, as was the original idea, or whether she, with her parents, decides to save it for college, that's up to the Duffields," Johnson said, adding:

"After the man who did the shooting pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay restitution, we heard from many of the people who had donated to the fund. They said they still wanted the money to go to Lindsey. That's what we're doing."

Some horse owners -- including one from New Jersey -- also have offered to give Lindsey a new horse. How that plays out, if it does, will be between the Duffields and any prospective donors who step forward.

Meanwhile, a reminder:

If you're not sure of your target, don't shoot.


I think this goes a long way to show that hunters aren't just a bunch of uncaring rednecks. It's always good to be able to create a positive impression about your sport, but it's still going to take a lot to make up for this incident in some people's minds...

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January 31, 2003, 01:26 AM
Goofy geezer! :cuss:

January 31, 2003, 01:37 AM
That was a very decent thing those hunters did!

January 31, 2003, 10:29 AM
A shotgun slug at 203 yards ...?

*** was he thinking?

Not very much, obviously.


Country Boy
February 5, 2003, 05:39 PM
This happened a short drive from where I live. I never heard about the fundraising though.

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