When we read about what some folks try to pull off in the great outdoors, we're often left shaking our heads and wondering why, why, why?
The verdict is in. Based on an unscientific poll of several of my 79 semi-regular readers, it is the dumb outdoor crooks columns that they find the most pleasure in reading.
So, with that information firmly embedded in my mind, and always being considerate of job security, here is another installment in that infamous category.
Christopher Janes, a Michigan bow hunter, went out on October 24 after deer, a short while after the bow season had opened. He was in his deer stand waiting patiently when a 24-point buck, a real monster and the trophy of a lifetime, came along the trail right in front of him.
One well-placed arrow, and the deer was his. Or was it?
He wanted all his buddies to know about his great fortune. So, he contacted the local newspaper, and they did a nice story, complete with photos, on October 26.
That was probably his second mistake. He apparently did not realize that game wardens can read. Actually they enjoy reading newspapers a great deal. And they just love reading stories about big deer being harvested, too.
You are probably catching up to me right about now. I know that Gid, Charlie, Jude and Dan (all are retired DEC game wardens who read these columns) are already way ahead on this one. It seems Janes purchased his bow hunting license at 9:44 a.m. on October 25. But he shot the buck on the 24th.
In game warden lingo, that is not a good thing.
Well, his little oversight has cost him a mandatory fine of $1,000. Oh, and there is the little matter of a mandatory jail sentence of from 5 to 93 days; he got 5. He lost all of his hunting privileges for three years, another mandatory item in that state’s anti-poaching arsenal.
He also lost one nice rack of antlers with 24 points still attached. And all because he didn’t remember to get a $25 license before he went hunting. What a dummy.
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Hunters are going high-tech more and more as they search for trophy whitetail deer. One Florida hunter attached a $700 "trail camera" to a tree in his favorite hunting area to capture snapshots of deer in the area, using a steel cable to lock it in place.
This camera was designed to transmit photos to the hunter’s e-mail address so he could view them at will from the comfort of his easy chair.
Well, a thief (we’re talking about a really dumb dummy) stole this particular trail camera. He just cut the cable and took it with him. Unfortunately for him he also triggered the automatic photo feature and took a perfect picture - of himself. And yes, it was transmitted to the proper e-mail account. Oops!
Local conservation officers recognized the thief from past associations they have had with him. And they are currently looking for him.
An arrest is expected at any time, and a really good mug shot is already in their hands.
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The U.S. Navy wanted to build an "Outlying Landing Field" in northern North Carolina so its pilots could practice landings and takeoffs from rural strips with no air traffic control or lights. The Navy announced that it was to get those airmen used to landing in primitive areas, sort of like war zone conditions but without the war to confuse things.
So the Navy’s land buyers went out, found a suitable patch of property, and bought it. Then they announced their intentions in local newspapers, probably in an attempt to gather good public relations with the "locals" and also to demonstrate how their tax dollars were being spent so wisely.
Sounds like a great P-R story so far, right?
Well folks, they sure stirred up a big pot of rather smelly public relations, but it fell into the category of disaster rather than good works. Why, you might ask?
Well, it seems the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was located just a short distance away from the proposed landing strip. That refuge is home sweet home to more than 300,000 greater snow geese and lots of tundra swans and other waterfowl for five months out of every year.
The term "piling on" is often used when football games and certain tackles are being discussed. But this time the term applies to what happened to those poor Navy boys.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, from the Governor and the entire NC state legislature to sportsmen’s organizations, newspapers, national and local environmental groups, local citizens, and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, jumped on the bandwagon to get the Navy to change its mind about the location of their outlying landing strip.
Oh, the Navy did change its mind real quick like. It will instead look for a suitable site where there isn’t a swan or goose to be found for 10 miles or so in any direction. As the duck flies, that is.
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One of the strangest cases I had as a special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service occurred on the Seneca Army Depot in 1979. It seems that a few members of the depot personnel were using the military helicopter as their own personal airborne hunting platform, both for finding wounded deer and for shooting healthy deer.
Since that was a serious violation of the Airborne Hunting Act, I immediately got involved.
I went to the depot and contacted C. Scott Sampson, the Post Education Officer and also my Deputy U.S. Game Warden for the depot and western New York. Together we went to the Post Commander’s office and requested a meeting. That man did not want to hear about any legal problems, and promptly sent us on our way out of his office.
Scott thought contacting the Colonel’s superior might get results, but I had a quicker idea. We drove out to the hangar where the helicopter was housed and, after filling out a seizure tag, I hung it securely on the stick of that machine. Then he and I drove about a mile away and parked.
It took 33 minutes by my watch, but the depot staff radioed a request for an immediate meeting with the Colonel and several other Post officers. I explained the violations, the seriousness of those charges, and my plan to seize that helicopter if the Army did not change the way it does business during the deer hunt.
Changes to the deer hunt were immediately implemented, and all airborne hunting ceased by end of business on that day. Scott was given additional authority and duties, and essentially became the post game warden while still retaining his Educational Officer duties.
And I was never again contacted concerning any deer hunting violations in that well-secured little corner of Seneca County.
Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.