MINNEAPOLIS — Sitting in a deer blind with a loaded shotgun while wearing blaze orange is considered hunting and requires a license, according to a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling Monday that gave no credence to a Stearns County man’s claims that he was just hanging out.

The ruling upheld the conviction of Roger B. Schmid for hunting without a license when a game warden found him in a deer blind on a Sunday morning in November 2011.

Schmid was sitting on his ATV in a camouflage blind wearing blaze orange clothing with a loaded 12-gauge, scoped shotgun sitting beside him. He told the game warden that he had shot a deer the night before. When the officer noticed that Schmid’s deer license lacked a bonus permit to shoot a second deer, the warden told him he would cite him for hunting without a license.

Schmid then “volleyed various persuasions of innocence” ranging from that he was hunting with a party of friends, that he was really hunting coyote and that he was just watching nature. The officer didn’t buy the claims and issued the citation.

When he went to trial, Schmid and his wife claimed he was not hunting, but merely awaiting help to retrieve the deer he shot the night before. A jury convicted him of hunting without a license. He appealed.

In a nine-page ruling written by Judge Kevin Ross, the Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction, saying that entering a deer-hunting area, sitting in a camouflage blind and being armed with a loaded weapon constitutes “pursuing” deer under the law.

State law prohibits “taking” a deer without a license, which means “pursuing, shooting, killing, capturing, trapping, snaring, angling, spearing, or netting wild animal,” the ruling said. The court said “taking” includes attempting to take wild animals.

In his defense, Schmid had cited a 1990 case in which a man was acquitted of taking a deer. The court found the comparison to the previous case to be “off target,” saying that defendant was not in a hunting area and his gun wasn’t loaded.

Schmid also claimed he wasn’t “pursuing” deer because he wasn’t “physically chasing” them. The court said it would be “silly” to define pursuit merely to foot chases.

The court analyzed the meaning of the word “pursue,” tracing it back seven centuries to its Latin root meaning “to follow.” Analysis of the verb’s meaning cited wide-ranging sources and examples from the Declaration of Independence, the Bible, romance, state Supreme Court Justice William Mitchell and a Field & Stream article called “Kill Your Thanksgiving Dinner.”

In the dating sense, the court noted that “a young romantic pursues a mate, ordinarily without a foot chase.” In the case of waterfowl, the court said dogs can ruffle the brush while the hunter stands still –not running on foot.

“Pursuit occurs when the hunter has taken action to close the distance between himself and the deer by entering its habitat to shoot it; that the hunter intentionally intercepts his prey rather than overtakes it from behind does not disqualify the conduct as pursuit,” the ruling said. The court inferred criminal intent from Schmid’s actions “given the credibility deficit” he showed in offering multiple, conflicted explanations for his behavior.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.