The Hebron land where Karen Wrentzel was shot and killed in 2017 is now posted, and no access is allowed without written permission. Credit: John Holyoke

Last week I told you about Troy Ripley’s effort to find a way to require educational or ethics training for hunters and anglers who appear to have forgotten valuable lessons. BDN readers were quick to share their own views on the matter.

A bit of background: In 2006, Troy Ripley’s daughter, 18-year-old Megan Ripley, was fatally shot by a hunter who received a two-year sentence, with all but 30 days suspended. Ten years to the day later, a hunter emerged from the woods on Ripley’s property, which he had posted prohibiting hunting.

That hunter was not prosecuted, Ripley said, in part because of his spotless prior criminal record. Ripley said he understands that the criminal justice system is clogged with cases more severe than trespassing complaints. Ripley has been working on legislation that he hopes could allow the commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to require misbehaving hunters or anglers to receive extra safety or ethics training in order to purchase a license.

Here are some thoughts from our readers, edited for space and clarity:

From Dorothy Odell: Thanks for your article. I think a copy of it should be required reading for anyone applying for a hunting license.

We are all beginning to understand that our problems cannot all be solved by punishment. The threat of prison is not what keeps hunters from shooting at people, and punishing the perpetrator does not undo the harm. Let’s keep hunting accidents from happening in the first place.

From Matt Carroll: Knowing what you are shooting at, knowing the surroundings and what is behind the target are all areas covered in hunter safety instruction as well as shooting and landowner permission ethics. Not to mention basic common sense.

Taking a class to enforce these common, basic practices should be the least that happens to an individual that violates them. I would have no issue with privileges being stripped from those that don’t adhere to these basic practices. Hunting is a long-standing tradition in Maine, and unfortunately the few that disrespect the sport go a long way to tarnish this pastime.

From Adam Doody: This is a heart-wrenching topic whenever it comes up. I think discussions with people in the different groups involved with outdoor recreation is always a good step. Keeping current with changing times in the outdoors. The woods are actually safer today than since records began. But there is always room for improvement and discussion. And it might be time for some changes. Here is an idea that would not involve any more expense than a public service announcement.

For instance, “Hunting season is approaching and to increase the level of safety in your area please wear some form of blaze orange while you’re in the outdoors this fall.”

It’s a very simple thing to do, like buckling your seatbelt, or checking for thin ice on the local pond. My wife and I raised three children in a very rural area and firearms went off around us all the time. Which was perfectly legal but for the safety of our children we would put a thin orange vest over their jackets. It’s so simple and adds an extra layer of safety. Now there are people who will say “we shouldn’t have to do that” but if we are talking about safety it is such a simple offset.

John Holyoke can be reached at or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, has been published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...