« Tennessee Officers Shoots Poaching Suspect | Main | Chad Love: When TV Doesn’t Suck »

December 03, 2008

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/field-notes

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Field Notes at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/field-notes.

Discussion Topic: Vermont Grouse Hunter Gets Aggravated Assault

From The Burlington Free Press:

The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled that a hunter who shoots and injures someone because he or she didn’t properly identify the target can face an aggravated assault charge. 

[The] court upheld the aggravated assault conviction of Eric Patch, who was out partridge hunting in November of 2006 when he saw movement in a tree, fired his 12-gauge shotgun and hit a deer hunter.

Patch sought dismissal and then acquittal on the charge, saying the state did not prove he intended to harm the victim. 

The high court found that intent wasn’t a necessary component of the crime, and that the recklessness of firing without being sure of the target was sufficient.

What do you think?



If I were deer hunting and got striped with bird shot I had better be out of it because I might return fire.


uhhh yeahhhh...Im with you shane...call me kooky, but whatever happened to the basic tenet of "being aware of your target AND BEYOND"
Patch needs to be stripped of all hunting privileges and not allowed in the field with anything more than spit-wads...we as hunters must do a better job of policing our ranks before someone does it for us...


didn't something similar happen down in texas a few years ago...

oh yeah that's right Dick Cheney shot that guy in the face...

what was his punishment Letterman and Leno jokes

I'm in school right now

sure they can't prove that he intented to, but whether he likes it or not it happened and he should be punished.



Apparently, peppering lawyers in Texas must not count ....


Identify your target and be sure of what's behind it before you discharge a weapon.

Safety, safety, safety.



Cheney was firing at a rising bird. The dingbat lawyer had stepped ahead of the other gunners to retrieve a downed bird. It's not like Cheney actually "aimed" his gun at the guy and pulled the trigger.
Accidents do occur.

Know your target, and beyond!


hoest man

Notice that the secret service waited beyond 12 hours to report Cheney's shooting his huntin buddy... now the reason.... it takes alcohol 11 hours to completely leave the body Cheney had a little too many icy paralyzers (beers) for lunch and was probably under the influence when he shot his huntin buddy.... that is a crime in TX.... but if you wait till after 12hrs the alcohol is gone.... hence no charges filed....

D. A.

I believe the first two contributers said it ALL. Be SURE of your target - and beyond... and if we, hunters, do not take a stand against a miniscule number of foolhardy hunters, then others who do not hunt will do it for us!

As an afterthought: returning fire may be a logical emotion in a panic mode or when on patrol, but perhaps it should not be stated nor put in print. No chastisement; just a thought regarding our image.


i think the guy shouldve been more aware of what he was pointing at but i think the hunter shouldve had some awareness to and shouldve had sum orange on

Mike Diehl

Hunters should never shoot at unidentified motion. Ever. Having hunted my share of ruffed grouse I can't imagine any excuse for the shooter.

It'd be different if he shot at a grouse and hit a camoflaged person down range. Wearing camoflage is almost as stupid as road-hunting or shooting your hunting buddy on the limpd**k excuse that he moved into your field of fire, but not quite as stupid.


Accidents happen, you can't possibly know 100% of the time what is beyond your target.

I don't care how many times people try to say that you should...it's just not realistic.

You shoot at a rising bird, and there's someone up in a tree 50 yards away that you can't even see b/c of the thick leaves. Are you not supposed to shoot unless there is only sky behind the bird?

If that was the case then 99% of shots would never occur in thick woods like most of NY is made up of.

Jeff Narusch

This problem can not happen in Ohio. I have not seen or heard a Ruffled Grouse since 1995.Anyways I'm sorry to hear about the accident.There is no defense for what happen.Bad things happen to good people.One more reason to use ground blinds.

jersey pig

aggravated assault would not apply in my home state as it requires the act to be willfull. however reckless endangerment does apply. simply put this was a highly preventable accident by someone failing to exercise the basic safety rules.


Shut it corky, Don't defend him. he was just another crazy californian that was trying to make some money by filing a yellerbellied suit. Besides you don't defend evolutionists.
14 yo smart alek


Whats wrong with evolution ?


This happened in a neighboring town to me. Ive always said, you cant mistake a human for a game animal. NOT POSSIBLE. We just had another a couple weeks ago, some guy shot a hunter in the legs thinking he was a buck...Keep in mind that in VT the buck has to have at least 3 points to be legal...did this hunter all of a sudden grow brown fur and antlers???

Scrap5000...in this case, it wasnt a rising bird, it was the hunter "THINKING" it was a grouse in a tree...but was a hunter in a stand...

Jeff Narush...in 2000 there were two of them (grouse) off Webster Road in Logan area...hehe...just thought you'd like to know!!


a little floresant orange would of helped to prevent this, accidents happen and that is what that is. the man in the tree must have seen the other man make sure he sees you. aggravated assault is not evan close. unless the man shooting had a intension to do so. be beleive both men need to share some blame.



Five hunters (military members) out for rabbit walking a line. Two peel off and take a higher path without saying anything. All of a sudden, the three on the lower path hear a shot, then pellets zoomed around their heads. The three yell out, and the shooter (dummy) says I'm sorry. The three tell them to come down and not shoot until they reached the field they were walking to. For one week prior to the hunt, all five hunters met three times, and the most experienced hunter went over the rules: 1) muzzle control, 2) zone of fire, 3) MAKING SURE OF YOUR TARGET BEFORE RAISING YOUR GUN!, 4) NO SHOOTING SITTING ANIMALS!

The five got to the edge of the field, and walked upon a sitting rabbit. The hunters did all they could short of kicking the critter, but it would not move. Four of the five agreed to leave it as it may be sick and started to fan out. All of a sudden, there is a shot behind them. You guessed it, dummy number five shot at the rabbit under ten yards and missed. The other hunters spoke to him and let him know they would stop hunting and take him home if he did anymore unsafe, unethical shooting.

The five walked ten yards farther and scared a rabbit into running. The hunter on the right side of the line (the experinced hunter) had the shot. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, dummy of the year jumped in front of the 12 ga muzzle of the shooting hunter. Needless to say, the hunter on the end experinced near heart attack emotions at having nearly killed his dumb friend. Thankfully he had good reflexes and did not pull the trigger further. After about fifteen minutes to regain his composure, the hunters decided to retire.

On the way back to their vehicles, another rabbit jumped in front of the end hunter. He raised his shotgun set his lead and started to pull the trigger when all of a sudden, dummy of the year jumped in front of his muzzle again. Just as the gun was about to fire, I was able to swing away from him as the gun fired. This time I had to be restrained as I was ready to kick his butt. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed as we unloaded all shotguns and headed straight for our cars.

After that incident, I did not hunt again for five years; and, I do not hunt with any inexperineced hunters other than when I train my grandchildren. They don't get to touch a firearm until they pass my test for the phase I am training them in. I don't want them to become a dummy, let alone a dead one.

There is no reason for the shot the individual took (not clear if he was swinging on a bird or not). If he was in the deer woods, he had the responsibility of knowing that he should check the trees as he hunted. However, with bird and deer seasons open at the same time, the hunter in the tree stand should have had some orange on as a safety precaution. Likewise, the bird hunter should have worn some orange.


people get peppered all the time, no big deal. Personaly, i think treestand hunters and all of their fancy expensive gear deserve to get shot somethimes. Small game hunting is one of the last vestages of what was once so simple. Technology has ruined hunting much the same as it has ruined all the little bratty ass childern running around today


just another thing, people get hurt, used to be nobody gave a shit. now everyone is so soft what the hell ever happened to the real men who werent afraid of getting hurt?


In fairness to Scrap5000, I believe it would be worthy to point out that Scrap was posing a hypothetical example of someone shooting at a rising bird and it was not based directly upon the events that transpired with Mr. Patch. It was an alternative potential scenario.
I agree with Mike D. 99.5% of the time, however wearing camo is a regional thing. When I was a young hunter in NY, I wore a blaze orange coat with my license attached to my back by means of that plastic holder with the giant safety pin. When I wore the blaze orange coat my first time hunting in the south many years ago, I thought I was going to be run out of the woods for spooking all the deer. I suppose one could politely file the camo issue under regional dialects LOL.

Our Blogs