Deer hunter kills five in dispute over hunting spot in Wisconsin
Associated Press Writer
BIRCHWOOD, Wis. (AP) – A deer hunter who apparently intruded on private property killed five other hunters who had been staying in a nearby cabin and wounded three more during the opening weekend of deer season, authorities said.
A 36-year-old man was arrested Sunday afternoon when he came out of the woods, sheriff’s officials said. Two of the wounded were in critical condition Monday.
Deputy Jake Hodgkinson identified the suspect as Chai Vang but would give no details. Vang is from St. Paul, Minn., said Paul Schnell, a spokesman for the St. Paul police department.
The shooting started when two hunters returning to their rural cabin saw the suspect in one of their hunting platforms in a tree, Sawyer County Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle said. The platforms or “tree stands” allow hunters to see deer without being easily seen themselves.
Both of those hunters were wounded and one of them radioed friends at the cabin a quarter-mile away. Other members of their group responded and they also were shot, he said.
“It’s absolutely nuts. Why? Over sitting in a tree stand?” asked Zeigle.
Zeigle said the suspect was “chasing after them and killing them,” with a SKS 7.62 mm semiautomatic rifle, a common hunting weapon. Wisconsin’s statewide deer gun hunting season started Saturday and lasts for nine days.
About 20 shots were fired but it was unclear if any of the hunters had fired at the suspect or who might have shot first, Zeigle said. There was just one gun among the eight people killed or wounded, he said.
The dead included a a teenage boy and a woman, and a father and son, Zeigle said. Some of the victims were shot more than once. All five were from the Rice Lake area, about 15 miles southwest of Birchwood in northwestern Wisconsin, he said.
Authorities found two bodies near each other and the others were scattered over 100 yards.
The suspect, who did not have a compass, got lost in the woods and two other hunters who didn’t know about the shootings helped him find his way out, Zeigle said.
The man was arrested when he emerged from the woods and a Department of Natural Resources officer recognized the deer license on his back from a description given by one of the shooting victims, Zeigle said.
The man was out of ammunition, he said.
One of the injured hunters was in critical condition Monday at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield. Another was in critical condition and a third in stable condition at Lakeview Medical Center in Rice Lake.
Hunter Bill Wagner, 72, of Oshkosh was about two miles away near Deer Lake with a party of about 20 other hunters when they heard sirens, planes and helicopters and discovered roads in the area had been barricaded.
“When you’re hunting, you don’t expect somebody to try to shoot you and murder you,” Wagner said. “You have no idea who is coming up to you.”
“We’re all old, dyed-in-wool hunters,” he said. “We wouldn’t go home because of this, but we will keep it in our minds. We’re not forgetting it.”