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In October of 2019, I received a phone call from an individual who wanted to turn himself in for a bad mistake that he had just made. As a Warden these calls are few and far between, so I was a little shocked when the individual told me what had just happened.

He said he was moose hunting near Wales and that he had a bull tag. He was driving around and saw three moose walking out in an unposted field. He was watching the three moose (2 bulls and 1 cow) for a little bit and decided that he wanted to harvest one of the bulls. He said he took aim at the first bull moose and fired. The moose did not react in the way that he was expecting. It didn’t seem to have been hit at all as it did not do anything but start to trot away from him. He thought he had missed with his shot. The moose was now too far away and at a bad angle for him to take another shot. He had made up his mind that he must have missed so he took aim and fired a round at the second bull moose, hitting it. He noticed that at that very moment that the first moose that he fired at just fell over dead. The second moose that he shot at ran into the neighboring bean field and laid down to eventually expire. I informed the individual to not touch anything and just stay right where he was, and I would be on my way. I wanted him to stay in his exact location because there was a pretty good amount of snow on the ground that would paint a nice picture for me when I got there.

When I arrived on scene I surveyed the area and could tell that the story he was telling me was true. The first moose was hit through the lungs and did run a pretty good distance considering the well-placed shot. I also could see where the second moose ended up dying. I told him that I really appreciated how he handled this situation as he was miles from anyone, and he very easily could have just loaded up his moose and left and probably that no one would have known that he had shot two moose. I mentioned the penalties for illegally harvesting a moose can be very severe and he told me that he really had no intentions on doing anything wrong on a once in a lifetime hunt. I said he would still have consequences for his actions, because as a hunter he is responsible for every round that comes out of his rifle and his decisions that day resulted in two dead moose instead of one. I told him that I would help him load up the first moose that he shot and that he could keep that moose and tag it. The second moose would be seized. I issued him a citation for exceeding the limit of moose and sent him on his way.

The second moose was taken back to the Game and Fish office in Devils Lake where I arranged for members of the Devils Lake Wildlife Club to come and help me process it so the meat could be donated to the Ramsey County Food Bank. The hunter who shot the moose at the end of the day did the right thing and admit that he had made a mistake. By doing this I was able to give him as much as a break as I could while still holding him accountable for his actions.

- District Game Warden Jon Peterson

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