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Aiken hunter who shot horse instead of deer is charged

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An Aiken County hunter has been charged with animal cruelty for shooting a $50,000 show horse while he was trying to shoot a deer Saturday.

Lisa Doker rides her Dutch Warmblood, Oree, sidesaddle. On Saturday, a hunter shot Oree in his pasture while hunting on a neighboring property. Doker had to euthanize the horse after veterinarians said he lost too much blood to wake up after a surgery.   Special
Special
Lisa Doker rides her Dutch Warmblood, Oree, sidesaddle. On Saturday, a hunter shot Oree in his pasture while hunting on a neighboring property. Doker had to euthanize the horse after veterinarians said he lost too much blood to wake up after a surgery.


Samuel Stewart, of Aiken, was issued a ticket by Aiken County Animal Control and will be fined $1,092 and could get up to 60 days in jail if found guilty in court, said Bobby Arthurs, an animal control chief enforcement officer.

The horse, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood named Oree, was brought to the University of Georgia for treatment but had to be euthanized because of the injury, owner Lisa Doker said.

“I feel like my heart has been ripped out,” Doker said. “I had him as a yearling, I practically raised him. I’m not able to have children, and this was the only next best thing I could have. It’s been very emotional.”

Doker said she was walking to her barn to feed her horses about 6:40 a.m. when she heard a gun shot near her stable.

As she approached the barn, she saw her 16-year-old Quarter Horse named Ike running frantically around his pasture. In the back of the pasture, she found Oree lying on his side, breathing “extremely hard” with blood on the right side of his body.

After several frantic phone calls, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and animal control arrived at the scene and found Stewart in his deer stand in a tree on a neighbor’s property.

When questioned by authorities, Stewart said he did not admit to shooting the horse but said he was shooting at a buck, a male deer, that was in the direction of the horse, Arthurs said.

Arthurs said a neighbor had given Stewart permission to hunt on the property and that he was shooting during hunting season, which runs August through January.

A woman who answered the phone at Stewart’s residence said he would not comment on the issue.

Doker said she has a hard time understanding how Stewart could have accidently shot her horse or mistaken the animal for a deer.

“My horse is (6-feet tall), weighs 2,000 pounds, and he’s black and white,” Doker said. “He doesn’t have antlers growing out of his head, and he doesn’t resemble a deer at all.”

Veterinarians at UGA told Doker that because Oree had lost so much blood, he would not be able to wake up after an operation on the wound.

Doker said making the decision to euthanize her horse was one of the hardest of her life. She had been training Oree in a riding discipline known as dressage, which is a sport that trains horses to perform movements based on balance and collection.

She had been riding at training and first levels of the sport, but said she had pegged him as an athlete that could have progressed through the FEI level, which is the highest and international level of dressage.

Although her horse is gone, Doker said she wants closure and compensation for extensive vet bills.

“What scares me the most is (Stewart) could have shot me,” Doker said. “I’m devastated and I’m shocked. Nobody can say I’m sorry to fix this. I want justice for Oree.”

Comments (26) Add comment
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raul
3954
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raul 11/29/11 - 01:51 pm
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He will never live this one

He will never live this one down.

curly123053
4023
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curly123053 11/29/11 - 01:56 pm
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Especially in horse loving

Especially in horse loving Aiken!

Sargebaby
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Sargebaby 11/29/11 - 02:15 pm
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The hunter, if guilty,

The hunter, if guilty, committed a basic violation of the hunter safety course. That is, he could not identify his target. Shame on him! How can you mistake a horse for a deer? Clearly, he was not able to identify the target!

scgator
1042
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scgator 11/29/11 - 02:50 pm
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If, indeed, this hunter's

If, indeed, this hunter's shot killed the horse; he should be prosecuted as the law will allow. He broke the PRIORITY rule of hunting.....you NEVER shoot at a target that can not be clearly identified by "seeing" the head of the target. I knew a man in Florida who shot at a deer, even though he could only see patches of it through the brush..........when he ran to claim his prize, it was my best friend, HIS 15 year old grandson. i am not down on this guy, but he had a nervous breakdown and never got over this tragedy; and this was in 1967. If you are a hunter, PLEASE, PLEASE IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET 100%, no trophy is worth the risk or bragging rights.

Ushouldnthave
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Ushouldnthave 11/29/11 - 04:21 pm
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Why is it cruel to shoot a

Why is it cruel to shoot a horse, but not cruel to shoot a deer? I'm sure the deer would agree.

shrimp for breakfast
5407
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shrimp for breakfast 11/29/11 - 10:16 pm
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I'm sorry for your loss Ms.

I'm sorry for your loss Ms. Doker.

Cadence
219
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Cadence 11/29/11 - 05:45 pm
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Interesting point about

Interesting point about shooting a horse being bad and a deer is not. I don't like hunting but that's another topic I guess. I think this is a sad story, regardless, and I hope the animal didn't suffer.

edited for typo

TakeAHike
186
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TakeAHike 11/29/11 - 06:48 pm
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Look at his picture in the

Look at his picture in the Aiken Standard. He was a beautiful white and black horse. There's no way you'd mistake him for a deer. What was this idiot doing hunting so close to someone's home and pasture?! Then after maiming the horse, why does he remain in his deerstand and do nothing for the poor creature? My heart goes out to the horse's owner. Very sad.

shrimp for breakfast
5407
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shrimp for breakfast 11/29/11 - 10:15 pm
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I'm ashamed I said I laughed

I'm ashamed I said I laughed when I heard about this.
It was someone's wonderful animal. I know how animals can be a part of the family. I am so sorry for your loss Ms Doker.
What an absolutely beautiful animal. Being a horse person myself my heart goes out to you.
And Mr. Stewart after you pay the fine and possibly do some jail time I suggest you have your eyes checked. Sitting in a deer stand you can't tell the difference between a horse and a buck? You sir have made me angry and if I said what I actually think of you they would kick me off the comments section and never let me come back.
I hope the judge makes you pay every penny of what this animal was worth although you can't put a price on what the animal meant to Ms. Doker.
You are not responsible enough to own a gun either!!!

Vito45
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Vito45 11/29/11 - 10:28 pm
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Folks, I see a different

Folks, I see a different possibility. Since he was still in his stand I wonder if he really shot at a deer, missed, and the horse just happened to be down range, obscured by leaves. That really isn't that far fetched, as people driving down the highway have been killed by a stray bullet. Probably more likely to win the Big Game for $500M, but it has happened, so not to hard to see it happening close to a farm.

On the other hand, if it was mistaken identity, throw the darned book at him. Ms Doker is right, it could have been her.

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 11/29/11 - 11:26 pm
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There should be some laws

There should be some laws about firing in close proximity to another person's property. If you can fire from your property and hit mine, you should not be hunting.

My sincere condolences to you, Ms. Doker, on the loss of your magnificent horse.

Vito45
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Vito45 11/29/11 - 11:53 pm
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WB, some hunting rifles can

WB, some hunting rifles can carry a bullet 2 miles, so requiring a 2 mile buffer between hunters and human habitat would be a tall order. It is a wonder there aren't more accidental shootings, but most deer hunters are up in trees aiming on a downward trajectory towards the ground. Even if shooting on a more level plane, if they are in the woods or shooting towards the woods, the odds of a bullet finding that perfect path through the growth without hitting anything is minuscule.

Knowing what I know,I am still a little uneasy though when I hear high powered guns being discharged within a few hundred yards.

I really hope this is just a stray bullet accident. If this joker mistook the horse for a deer he needs to be stripped of hunting privileges forever.

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 11/30/11 - 12:06 am
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Vito, I can see your point

Vito, I can see your point regarding the 2 mile distances. The article doesn't give the location, but having experienced Aiken's horse country and my own interpretation of the article; I believe there is an excellent chance that her property was visual to him.

"After several frantic phone calls, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office and animal control arrived at the scene and found Stewart in his deer stand in a tree on a neighbor’s property.

When questioned by authorities, Stewart said he did not admit to shooting the horse but said he was shooting at a buck, a male deer, that was in the direction of the horse, Arthurs said."

In any case, this tragedy should serve as a severe warning to both hunters and riders... This is not a good time of year to be riding in the woods; even your own woods.

KSL
118582
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KSL 11/30/11 - 12:14 am
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If you hit a horse while

If you hit a horse while aiming at a deer, your hunting license probably needs to be revoked, regardless of how far the bullet travels.

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 11/30/11 - 12:21 am
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I agree, KSL. It wasn't a

I agree, KSL. It wasn't a very good explanation for his "mistake".

Vito45
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Vito45 11/30/11 - 12:30 am
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Sight lines from his stand

Sight lines from his stand should tell the story.

Frankie-B
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Frankie-B 11/30/11 - 03:18 am
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So sorry for the loss of this

So sorry for the loss of this beautiful domesticated animal (that being the difference with the shooting of a deer, which, unlike a horse (at least in this country), is food stock. Our.pets are so special.. Still, I'd counsel the poor woman to adopt a child; you'll learn what love really is, what loss really is, and realize you can't really compare the loss of a beloved animal to love evoked by even the brattiest child. I'll toss the hunter a bone, unless there's beer or other judgement impeding substances involved. Sounds too lame to be anything but a fluke accident.

horsesense
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horsesense 11/30/11 - 05:59 am
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Ms. Doker, I heart goes out

Ms. Doker, I heart goes out to you. I have two every loving horses myself. A walker and a throughbred. I cring every time I hear gun shots. I live in Burke county, so I know what it's like to have your heart ripped out of your chest. After 5 yrs I'm still trying to figure out how my rottie was shot by a hunter when she was in my 6 ft chain link fence. At my house. And yes my house has been shot by hunters also. So at hunting time I do my best to keep dogs in house and horses with orange on the so maybe they won't get shot. I am so so sorry for your loss.

Riverman1
78386
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Riverman1 11/30/11 - 07:13 am
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Horsesense, my property in

Horsesense, my property in Aiken County borders a large horse place. I have 130 acres and sometimes shoot on the land, plus give another neighbor permission to hunt there. Of course no one should shoot into others property and there are legal buffers of a couple hundred yards from shooting near houses although I can't recall the exact distance.

The neighbor lady from the horse property complained when I would shoot saying saying it disturbs the horses. I love what horses bring to Aiken so I try to let her know when I'm going to shoot. It's kind of neat going over there and seeing the beautiful animals, but I also have the right to shoot on my property. There has to be a little compromise on these issues.

Of course this hunter was wrong to have killed this woman's horse. She can also sue the heck out of him.

CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 11/30/11 - 09:02 am
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Take the idiot's hunting
Unpublished

Take the idiot's hunting license & his rifle as well! When I purchased a handgun, I was taught that if I cannot clearly identify the target, I should not pull the trigger!

TK3
562
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TK3 11/30/11 - 09:31 am
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The criminal punishment for

The criminal punishment for such acts are way too little and the lady should sue for the horses property value (over $50K) plus emotional damage.

Wonder what I was (evidently) banned from A/C site last week for?

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 11/30/11 - 09:50 am
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Yes, River, is right. One

Yes, River, is right. One should be equally as able to enjoy their land as the neighbor is his/hers. And I certainly have no doubt that you are a kind and considerate neighbor.

Here's a good compromise for hunters. NO firing on anything with a high powered riffle without a scoped search of the surrounding targeted area and the complete identification of the target goal. A black and white horse is unmistakeable as a deer. Said horse was also contained in a pasture, which further denotes open land, not woods.

What hunter drops a 2000 pound target and doesn't investigate?

This should cost him monetarily and the loss of his hunting license. The property owner should bear some financial responsibility as well. The next time, there may be a rider on the "deer".

Sean Moores
706
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Sean Moores 11/30/11 - 11:12 am
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TK3, you weren't banned. If

TK3, you weren't banned. If you are having problems with the web site, email me and I will try to figure out what is going on.

Vito45
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Vito45 11/30/11 - 11:29 am
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Willow, your points are why I

Willow, your points are why I am open to consider this a stupid fluke, as another poster called it. I just can't imagine this guy making that kind of mistake, much less as a deliberate act. If he had any idea he had felled something, he would have come down out of the stand to investigate. If he had discovered it was a horse he would have either contacted the owner or hightailed it, depending on his character.

I just hope I'm right, because if not, this dude is one messed up individual.

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 11/30/11 - 12:30 pm
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Yes, Vito, it makes

Yes, Vito, it makes absolutely no sense. I would like to know how close he was to her property. I wish Ms. Doker would tell us more details about the circumstances. It all sounds crazy. This is a dangerous time of year.

allhans
22943
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allhans 11/30/11 - 03:15 pm
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We should be thankful the

We should be thankful the horse didn't have a rider.
This could easily have been a person. After all, an object he thought was a deer wasn't, so...

InChristLove
22407
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InChristLove 12/01/11 - 11:50 am
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My oldest son is a hunter and

My oldest son is a hunter and it's odd that this comes just after having a discussion with him. He made the comment that sometimes when you sit in a deer stand for a long period of time you loose your depth perception. He said sometimes bushes look small until you climb down out of a tree and realize how huge the bush really is.

At 6:40am it is still dark outside and my opinion is that if the hunter was still in the stands, more than likely he assume he hit his big buck. Most hunters wait a while to let the deer bleed out before climbing out of the stand and approaching the deer, just in case it is still alive. You don't want it getting back up and running or take the chance of it attacking you because it's injured.

I can see where this could have been an accident, why would this man intentionally shoot such a beautiful horse. Ms. Doker, I am sorry for the loss of your beautiful horse. Loosing a pet who is a huge part of the family is never easy.

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