Game Law Violators Incriminate Themselves

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts, and wild tales from the outdoors

Jan. 14, 2009

Game Law Violators Incriminate Themselves
We’ve often featured stories about the less-than-Einstien-like qualities of
folks who break hunting laws, and this week you’ll read how a photo taken by a
poacher and sent to an honest hunter’s cellphone helped lead to the arrest and
conviction of 10 bad guys. We also bring you the story about a rash of antler
thefts in Illinois, and more!

Cell Phone Photo Helps Nab Crooks
Thanks to the actions of a concerned hunter, 10 Tennessee game thieves received
fines totaling $22,821, and lost their hunting privileges for up to 7 years for
illegally hunting over bait and for taking dozens of ducks over the limit.

J.R. Absher

A combination of modern technology and a poacher’s braggadocio led to the
apprehension of the waterfowl crooks.

"Our officers received a tip that a group of individuals had killed a
large number of wood ducks on the opening day of the early wood duck season
from a duck hunter that received a photo on his cell phone," said
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Region I Communications Coordinator Dave
Gabbard. “Acting on this information, our wildlife officers were able to locate
the area that was baited and were able to catch these individuals hunting over
it the next day."

The legal bag limit for wood ducks during Tennessee’s September wood duck
season is two per hunter per day. Investigating TWRA officers found the
individuals to be in possession of 169 wood ducks!

"This case is a prime example of what can happen when TWRA receives
information from hunters who are not going to condone this type of hunting
behavior," Gabbard said.

Brazen Illinois Burglars Target Antlers
Authorities in two southwestern Illinois counties report that a rash of recent
rural burglaries have targeted the usual computers, electronics, tools and
other household items, as well as something else of particular value to
sportsmen –deer antlers!

Sheriff departments in Macoupin and Jersey counties report at least 89 deer
antlers have been stolen during brazen daytime break-ins since mid-November.

"From processing the scenes, it appears two individuals are making
forced entries into the homes and one cabin," said Detective Mike Kostich
of the Macoupin County Sheriff’s Department. "All the burglaries have been
during daytime and on dead-end roads."

Captain Mark Wagner, a law enforcement officer with the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources, said that in each case, the thieves have targeted antlers
and antler plaques, and not full deer-head mounts.

Authorities aren’t sure whether the local spike in antler thefts is
indicative of a poor economy or simply because the headgear was a convenient
target for burglars who understand the value of deer racks in the crafts and
home-decoration marketplace.

At least in one of the burglaries, deer antlers were the primary target and
not an afterthought.

Jersey County Sheriff Mark Kalall said a break-in at a rural hunting club
three weeks ago netted thieves more than 25 sets of deer antlers.

Arizona Institutes Free Apprentice Hunter License
Effective January 1, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a new
"Apprentice Hunting License," at no charge, to encourage existing
hunters to become mentors and introduce a friend, neighbor, relative, or
co-worker to the traditions and importance of hunting.

The Apprentice License allows an already licensed hunter to take a beginner
on an actual hunt — without the beginner having to buy a hunting license. The
Apprentice License is free for residents and non-residents and is valid for two
consecutive days for the take of small game, fur-bearing, predatory and
non-game mammals, non-game birds, and upland game birds. (To take migratory
birds or waterfowl, the appropriate stamps are required at normal costs). The
license is not valid for the take of big game.

Many people express an interest in hunting, but are deterred either because
of not knowing how to get started or the initial expense. The Apprentice
Hunting License removes the initial cost barrier of having to buy a license
(which costs between $26.50 and $151.25, depending on age and residency), so that
newcomers can "try before they buy."

"This will allow a seasoned hunter to take someone new under their wing
and teach them the basics about hunting, firearm safety, and wildlife
conservation without cost prohibitive burdens," said Chairman Bill McLean of
the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. "There are many states with this
type of license, and it has become a model for removing barriers in the
national effort to increase hunter participation."

Colorado Posts Record Gun Sales In 2008
Like many other states, Colorado experienced a surge in firearms sales in 2008,
especially following the November general election.

Firearms owners nationwide believe the election of Barack Obama signals a
forthcoming return of the 90s-era ban of certain firearms and high capacity
magazine — at the very least — as well as other gun and ammunition

Background checks performed on Colorado firearms buyers exceeded 200,000 for
the first time in state history for 2008, reflecting an increase of 26 percent
from the previous year. Total background checks in Colorado last year numbered
202,772, compared with 160,756 in 2007. Roughly 97 percent of all background
checks are approved.

More than a quarter of the checks took place following the Nov. 4 general

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reports it conducted nearly 30,000
instant background checks for potential gun buyers in November and more than
26,300 in December. That compares with 18,569 checks in October and 14,556 in
September. In January 2008, the CBI conducted 13,161 background checks.

Lance Clem, spokesman for the CBI, called it a "staggering year"
for the Insta-Check Unit, which conducts the background checks.

"November was the biggest month," Clem told the Rocky Mountain
. "We had records set on three separate days in November."

Quote Of The Week
"Duck hunting stands alone as an outdoor discipline. It has a tang and
spirit shared by no other sport — a philosophy compounded of sleet, the winnow
of unseen wings, and the reeks of marsh mud and wet wool. No other sport has so
many theories, legends, casehardened disciples and treasured memories."
-John Madson,
“The Mallard,” 1960

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for You may contact him at


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