Opening day of the hunting season is always an anticipated event in North Dakota, but the 1945 hunting season opener proved fatal for two overly-eager hunters in the area. The first hunter was Arthur Clark of Missouri. Clark was visiting the state to speak at a Midwest convention of Game and Fish Commissioners in Bismarck, but came two weeks early to enjoy the state’s abundant hunting grounds. Clark decided to spend his first day of hunting west of Bismarck, near Hebron, North Dakota. He had no idea at the time that it would also be his last day of hunting in the state. The excitement of the hunt was apparently too much for the elderly Clark, as he suffered a fatal heart attack that same afternoon.
An odd coincidence was reported earlier in the day by authorities near Lake Park, Minnesota. L. W. Nelson, Mayor of Lake Park, had also suffered a fatal heart attack while duck hunting north of the city. Nelson, also an elderly man at sixty-three years of age, had left home that morning full of anticipation for the day’s hunt. An avid duck hunter, Nelson was joined by two hunting buddies that morning. The three drove about seven miles north of the city to a promising slough before parting company. Nelson’s companions heard several shots from Nelson’s direction that morning and believed the man to be having a successful day. Later on though, the shots ceased and nothing was heard by the men for quite a while. The two companions met up and decided to check in on Nelson’s progress. Upon reaching the Mayor, the men found him facedown in the water, also the victim of a fatal heart attack.
Although hunting is an extremely popular sport in North Dakota, past incidents such as these serve to highlight the serious risk of potential danger inherent to the sport. Both of the victims in this instance died of natural causes, but yearly, an average of thirteen hunters are injured in the state from firearms. Several hunting seasons have opened already, but most are scheduled to open within the next couple of months. Please remember to practice safe hunting practices and be aware of the possible danger if you plan on hunting this fall.
Written by Jayme Job
Fargo Forum and Daily Tribune. September 21, 1944 (Morning Ed.); p. 1.