Deer-hunting season got started in Maine a little more than a week ago, and as the clip above from Maine Public Radio explains, there have already been three human casualties, including one death. John Holyoke, of the Bangor Daily News, has a frank assessment of the consequences of these horrible incidents:
On Monday, I was trying to explain [to my non-hunting friends] how responsible most hunters are. I was trying to tell my friends that a single tragic weekend doesn’t mean that the Maine woods are inherently unsafe during November.
And I expect my words sounded less than convincing.
Consider: Over a two-day period spanning Friday and Saturday, three hunting-related shootings were reported to the Maine Warden Service.
• On Friday, a Portsmouth, N.H. man who was target shooting in the woods of Casco was shot in the stomach by a hunter. The victim was taken by LifeFlight to a Lewiston hospital.
• Also on Friday, a Hebron man was shot in the leg by a hunting companion as they tracked a deer that had been wounded in Oxford. The wounded hunter was also transported to a Lewiston hospital.
• And on Saturday, 46-year-old Peter Kolofsky of Sebago was shot and killed while hunting in that southern Maine town. The alleged shooter, 61-year-old William Briggs of Windham, was hunting nearby but was not a member of Kolofsky’s hunting party.
All it takes is a single weekend, however, to convince plenty of people that the woods of Maine are full of wild, gun-toting folks who don’t care what they shoot at, whether it’s a deer, the family pooch or another hunter.
It doesn't matter that statistics show that hunting in Maine is a safer pasttime than boating or snowmobiling or many of the other outdoor activities we engage in these days. What matters are stories like the ones Holyoke describes. It's human nature to extrapolate greater meaning from narratives, even fragmentary ones like those above.
Ultimately, the image of man in the woods clutching his bloody stomach is simply more convincing to us than any chart stacked with numbers.