Northern Michigan Family’s Beloved Horse Mistakenly Shot By Hunter
Tracii Kunish-Chandler of Benzie County in northern Michigan went out to feed her family’s horses on Sunday evening, November 19th, and to her horror, she discovered the family’s horse Kodi’s tracks in the snow, the beloved animal missing, evidently having taken off down the driveway after being spooked – by what, she wasn’t sure.
Tracii and her sister-in-law followed the path left by the tracks. Then, at 6:45 P.M., they heard a gunshot. “I didn’t think anything of it,” she said. It wasn’t unusual for the northern Michigan resident to hear shots during hunting season, although it was a bit late. “I thought maybe a hunter finally found a deer and had to put it out of its misery or something.”
They continued along the path, and, eventually, it was her sister-in-law who came upon a gruesome and unexpected sight.
“Then my sister-in-law said, ‘you probably don’t want to see this but…,’ she was dead like ten feet from his bait pile.” Tracie immediately saw what the woman was referring to.
Kodi’s body lay lifeless before them. He had been shot by a hunter, an 83-year-old man who told northern Michigan DNR investigators he thought he had shot a deer as Kodi apparently was snacking from his bait pile he’d set up earlier.
Tracii said, “There’s no way he didn’t know what he shot. She’s a red and white horse, eleven hundred pounds.” The difference in size between Kodi and a deer is hard to miss with the weight of an average buck, by comparison, being roughly 125-200 pounds.
She said she’s grown up with farm animals all her life. “We grew up with lots of horses, cows, rabbits, chickens, cats and everything on the farm when I was young,” Tracii explained, adding that she has always considered the animals at her home as more than just pets. They’re family to her.
Tracii’s family rescued Kodi at a downstate auction last year. “The second day I got her I had her up here in the pasture, a saddle on her and my one-and-a-half-year-old nieces were both on her, my nephews were on her riding around,” she said.
Tracii has nothing against hunting. “My husband hunts, everybody in my family hunts. It’s nothing against people hunting whatsoever. It’s about people doing it incorrectly or maliciously or illegally way past time and just to kill something basically that’s a pet or a family member,” she said.
She immediately thought of her children. “It could have been kids playing back there. If he couldn’t see what he was shooting at then it could have been a kid he shot, could have been a dog, could have been anything.”
The Benzie County Sheriff’s Department reported that the elderly hunter had broken the hunting laws by firing the shot after Michigan’s legal hunting hours.
The man was immediately charged with careless discharge of a firearm, and as the DNR continues to look into the incident, officials said additional charges could be added. He’s expected to be arraigned December 7.