Camp Ripley, Minn. — A 60-year-old Elbow Lake man died of a
gunshot wound on Minnesota’s Nov. 3 deer-hunting opener this
According to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, Craig Rupp,
who was a Grant County commissioner, was hunting southeast of this
western Minnesota town on the Saturday firearms opener at about
9:40 a.m. The sheriff’s department said Rupp was posting during a
deer drive, when a deer jumped up and shots were fired at it. Rupp
was struck in the chest by a stray shotgun slug.
According to the sheriff’s department, Rupp was taken by
ambulance to Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls where he
The accident remains under investigation by the Grant County
Capt. Mike Hammer, of DNR Enforcement at Camp Ripley, said deer
drives continue to be one of the department’s greatest concerns
regarding hunter safety.
“The danger in deer drives is that deer don’t follow what the
plan is,” Hammer said. “And when hunters deviate from the plan,
they’re asking for trouble.”
Hammer said when deer don’t emerge from cover where it’s
expected they might; in turn, hunters may focus on the deer,
forgetting where fellow hunters are located. He calls that “missile
“The excitement of the hunt can cloud a hunter’s judgment and
perception, and make him or her momentarily forget about
surroundings, even hunting partners,” Hammer said in the DNR’s
Hammer said besides the fatality that occurred opening day of
the firearms deer-hunting season, there were three non-fatal
shooting-related incident reports submitted to DNR Enforcement. At
least two occurred during hunting, he said. The circumstances of a
third still are under investigation. Another, investigated by the
Clearwater County Sheriff’s Department, hadn’t been reported to the
DNR’s central office as of Tuesday morning.
In St. Louis County, the sheriff’s office said a 62-year-old
hunter was shot by a 15-year-old member of his hunting party who
was cleaning his firearm. The incident occurred about 11/2 miles
east of Biwabik in northern Minnesota. The victim, of rural Aurora,
was taken to Virginia Regional Medical Center, was airlifted to a
Duluth hospital, and then to Hennepin County Medical Center in
Sgt. Rick Feiro, of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, said
the incident is still under investigation, but probably will be
classified as a hunting accident.
“The individuals were back at their vehicle; initial indications
show the 15-year-old was clearing his firearm when it accidentally
discharged, striking the victim,” Feiro said.
The investigation is still open pending an interview with the
victim, who’s listed in serious condition at HCMC, according to
The victim’s name has not been released.
The other shootings occurred while the shooters and victims were
in the act of hunting, Hammer said. One incident occurred in Nobles
County, in southwestern Minnesota.
Slayton conservation officer Jim Robinson reported the hunter
was shot in the leg by a member of his hunting party. The victim
was taken to the Worthington hospital and later transported to a
medical center in Sioux Falls. The hunter’s name and condition were
unavailable, but the DNR classified the injuries as
Hammer said in Brown County a deer hunter was shot in the
The Brown County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim as
26-year-old Brooks Lee Marti, of New Ulm. Marti was shot in the
left arm by a member of his hunting party during an attempt to
flush deer in a wooded area near Sleepy Eye. Marti was taken to
Sleepy Eye Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
In Clearwater County in northwestern Minnesota, Sheriff Mike
Erickson reported that Jeffrey Pike, of Chaska, accidentally shot
himself at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. A sheriff’s report says
Erickson put his gun down and it fired; a bullet struck his right
bicep, and he was taken to a Fargo, N.D. hospital.
The Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department reported two male
hunters – one 71-year-old and the other whose age was unknown –
died of heart attacks while hunting. One died Nov. 3 in Thorpe
Township in the Tepee lakes area; the other died Nov. 4 in Arago
Township, north of Park Rapids.
Hammer said in Freeborn County, a parked pickup truck was struck
by a stray slug, but no one was inside the vehicle at the time.
Hammer said last year there were four hunting fatalities during
the course of the many hunting seasons in the state. Two of those
occurred during deer hunting, one on opening weekend of the
There were 23 total hunting-related incidents last year, a
decrease from the number typically reported during the 1990s and
early 2000s, when the number of incidents usually was 30 to 40 each
year. Last year’s non-fatal incidents included 12 two-party
incidents and 11 self-inflicted gunshot injuries.
In 2004 there were no fatal hunting incidents and fewer than 20
non-fatal incidents, the safest year in recent history. Just one
fatality was recorded in 2003.