Remember that University of Wisconsin student who was recently tracked down by the Madison PD after they received frantic calls about a camo-clad man with a gun? Yeah, he was only a hunter returning from a less than fruitful day in the woods. It was probably easy to write that incident off, though, given that Madison is really just a big, hippie-infested college town best known for its lefty politics and being the birthplace of The Onion. That kind of crazitude could never happen elsewhere in the Eat Cheese or Die State…other than maybe Milwaukee, right? Au contraire, mon frere . . .
About 40 miles southeast of the capitol, in New Richmond, hunter Nathan Pieters was similarly ambulating his way home from an unproductive hunting expedition the other day and prompted some hysterical calls to the police, too. He was subsequently stopped by two members of the local constabulary. Nathan graciously took it upon himself to write up the incident himself and send it to us. Here’s his account:
On Monday, November 25th, the third day of the gun deer season in Wisconsin, I decided I wanted to go hunting. I hadn’t been able to get out thus far in the season. The only problem was I had to split use of the family car and ended up walking home. I was at the Betterly Wildlife Production Area for several hours, which was approximately five miles from my home and had told my family that I would be walking home after hunting and would be home in time to pick up my kindergartener. Accompanying me on this trip were my Mosin nagant for the field and a Stevens 320 12 ga, for the wooded areas . . .
After hunting, I unloaded both guns, secured the shotgun to my backpack and engaged the bolt safety on my Mosin, which I could only carry slung over my shoulder. I then walked up County GG the mile or two to 140th and all my encounters were positive. A few hunters in pickup trucks stopped and asked me where I was hunting, if I’d seen anything, had I got anything yet and I had a pleasant encounter with a mail carrier when I stopped for water.
I walked up 140th for about 10 or 15 minutes on the sidewalk when a large lady in a grubby red sweater drove by in a small car and began having visible fits, flailing her hands and making it obvious that she was calling 911. It made me laugh a bit and I continued on my way fully expecting to talk to the local PD.
About five minutes later, a New Richmond Police Dept SUV pulled up along side me and an officer asked me if I was out hunting. I responded that I was and was just headed home. He told me that they were getting calls from people who were concerned and was just checking on it, saying that the reports were about a man walking with “uncased long guns.” I recognize BS when I see it, so I corrected him, telling him that it would be a crime to cover them, that open carry was constitutional and referenced Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen’s 2009 memorandum regarding open carry. I also informed him that an individual should not be stopped just for the fact that he is openly carrying a firearm.
He then asked for ID and I politely declined, stating that’s my right. He asked again and why I declined and I politely told him that I had done nothing wrong and since he had to ask, he had no right to my ID. He told me he had to check it out. I agreed and told him he did and then I asked him if I was suspected of a crime, which he tried to evade answering.
I asked again and he said no, and I then asked if I was being detained or was free to go. He said “hold on just a minute” and began to head to his cruiser, maybe for the radio, and I asked again if I was being detained, a bit more forcefully, but trying to remain polite and diplomatic. He said no and I told him that I had kids to pick up from school and was still a ways from home and needed to go. He said “OK” and I then said goodbye and waved.
I didn’t get 10 or 20 steps when a St. Croix County deputy skidded to a stop at the curb beside me and demanded my ID, which I again declined. She told me that they were “fielding a lot of calls” and that I was being a problem. She claimed that I was close to a school zone and I corrected her saying that I was close to the 1000 foot limit, but was definitely outside it. She started fishing for a crime by asking me if I was wearing my blaze orange the whole time I was hunting, which I was (I don’t want to be shot – nobody does. We shoot the deer, right?)
She asked me if I was using expanding ammo, which I was. I told her to get to the point and she told me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and acknowledged that it was my right to open carry and then offered me a “ride.” I asked where to, and she didn’t answer. At that point, I told her “No, I don’t really trust you or know you and I think I’m just going to walk.”
She then began to get louder and told me that I was too close to a school and was scaring people and that pickup was beginning soon to which I replied “I know, I need to be there to pick up my own kid and you’re going to make me late. Goodbye.” I then proceeded to continue south down 140th and about a half mile or so later she pulled up behind me again, this time almost hitting me with her cruiser. She jumped out and yelled at me that “we are fielding a lot of calls and if we continue to receive them we are going to do something.” I asked “like what?” and she told me “you will be going to jail.”
At that point I got angry and told her: “No, I will not be going to jail. That is a violation of my Constitutional rights. Leave me alone or I will get an attorney and sue you.” I then turned and walked away, but unsnapped my Smith & Wesson SD40, and the jacket pocket containing my BUG just in case she attacked me. I continued along 140th to 157th and went to a neighbor’s house, and asked for help and permission to cross their private property to make it home safely.
Throughout the encounter, I was taking pictures on my cellphone of the deputies following me. At one point, she was just a few yards behind me and when I turned to take a picture, she sped off and the other backed up. At other times, she hung back a couple hundred feet.