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Late Shot Blamed in Hunting Fatality

Officials say visibility waning as West Bend man - without blaze orange - was shot

Last Updated: Nov. 24, 2003

West Bend - A 33-year-old man killed in a hunting accident was shot once in the abdomen by his best friend - who fired a shot 10 minutes after hunting was to have ended for the day, authorities said Monday.

Hunting Fatality

William Mundt, 33, of West Bend was shot once in the abdomen by his best friend - who fired a shot 10 minutes after hunting was to have ended for the day, authorities said Monday.

Apparently mistaken for a deer, William Mundt of West Bend was shot as he walked on private property near the intersection of Highway S and Trout Spring Road in the Town of Scott.

Mundt, who was not wearing any blaze orange at the time, died at Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Wauwatosa Sunday evening.

According to Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department Capt. David Adams:

The shooter, whom authorities declined to identify, was with three other people field-dressing a doe using the headlights of a pickup truck.

Someone then said they heard movement in the brush and could see eyes.

"The man stood up, loaded his weapon and fired," Adams said, adding that the single shot hit Mundt in the abdomen.

The shooting occurred about 4:50 p.m.; Wisconsin regulations state that hunting was to have ended by 4:40 p.m. on Sunday, authorities said.

Bill Mitchell, a state Department of Natural Resources warden, said the man who shot Mundt was a graduate of a hunter safety program.

"But he apparently forgot the rules he learned," Mitchell said, including the rule about identifying and being sure of your target.

The Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department and the DNR are investigating the death. As of Monday night, the man had been neither arrested nor cited in the shooting death.

Mitchell had been monitoring hunting activities in Newburg Sunday afternoon and said cloud cover made things very dark toward the end of the day.

"I was with another warden, and we both said that in the dark, the blaze orange had lost all of its luminescence," Mitchell said.

For that reason, Mitchell said, a number of hunters in the Newburg area quit early. "It was just too dark, too unsafe for many of the hunters," he said.

Hunting-after-hours tickets are regularly issued during gun season, Mitchell said, adding that for violators, it was usually a matter of trying to get one last shot at a deer.

Meanwhile, Mundt's family said Monday that his faith in the rules and in others obeying them may have been a factor in his death.

He was not wearing his heavy blaze orange vest when he was shot, family members said.

"Hunting was done for the day, and William would have known that and started heading back toward the house," his sister Janet said. "He took his blaze orange off, maybe because he was hot. But if hunting was done for the day, he wouldn't shoot and thought no one else would, either."

Janet Mundt said her brother and the man who shot him were best friends.

"He took William in almost like a son," she said. "William was like a big uncle to his children.

"As much as my brother was shot, he was shot in a way, too. He'll always have the memory of this."

William Mundt worked at West Bend Elevator, where the heavy work suited his hardworking mentality. He overcame an early childhood medical problem to read and write and conquered a speech impediment.

"He didn't want anyone to think he was different," Janet Mundt said. "He was your average guy. He loved to hunt, fish. He had a lot of friends. He was very loyal and trusting."

William Mundt was a big, sturdy man who roughhoused with younger siblings.

"He was always bigger then me, and he toughened me up," said his brother Brian, a former Navy search and rescue diver.

Janet and Brian Mundt said they hope others learn from what happened to William.

"He shouldn't have taken off his vest," Janet Mundt said. "Never take off your orange if you're in the field."

Brian Mundt added: "Know your target. Make sure you know what you're shooting at."

William Mundt also is survived by his parents, David and Mary Mundt, and siblings Donald and Maureen. Visitation is Wednesday between 4 and 6 p.m., with a service to follow at the Myrhum-Patten Funeral Home, 1315 W. Washington St., West Bend.

From the Nov. 25, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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