Don’t Cry Over Spoiled Elk — Litigate!

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

Aug. 18, 2004

Don’t Cry Over Spoiled Elk — Litigate!

A small-claims court ruling in Maine recently favored a big game hunter who charged that United Parcel Service provided a less-than-prompt delivery of elk meat that he took while hunting last year in Colorado. Also, in keeping with the tried-and-true Outdoor News Hound formula, you’ll find a pair a wild critter tales — one about a cocoa-eating, boot-biting bruin, and another story about a senior citizen’s close encounter with an aggressive mule deer buck.

A Meaty Decision

Marshfield, Maine, resident Edward Hennessey Jr. likes to travel to Colorado almost every fall to pursue one of his passions — elk hunting. Last year, following a successful hunt, he arranged to ship his packages of frozen elk steaks via UPS with guaranteed overnight delivery to his Down East home.

J.R. Absher

Unfortunately, his shipment arrived several days late by land delivery — not overnight by air — and his meat was spoiled and rotten. Hennessey refused delivery of the packages and filed a small claims suit in his home district.

Last week, District Judge James MacMichael accepted Hennessey’s claim that UPS workers “erroneously concluded that there was dry ice in the package” and shipped it overland, ignoring his specific shipping orders. The court awarded Hennessey $3,218.66 by default in Machias Maine District Court against UPS, which did not send a representative for the hearing. The award included the value of the meat ($2,800), the cost of having the 70 pounds processed in Colorado ($205) and the cost of shipping ($213.66).

“I never wanted to file this action,” Hennessey told the Bangor Daily News. “I would not have brought the action if UPS had been responsible. When I asked for them to pay for what happened, I couldn’t get anywhere with them.”

These Boots Are Made For Bitin’

A Colorado man who went to check on a friend’s cabin last week because of recent bear break-ins there found what he was looking for — and then some. Chris Marx walked into the remote cabin near DeBeque and surprised a 200-pound bear on the countertop, chowing down on packages of powdered cocoa. The bear jumped to the floor, rose on its hind legs and began snapping its teeth and snarling.

“We were in such close quarters that his instinct told him to come after me because I was blocking the biggest exit,” Marx told The Denver Post.

When Marx made a leap toward the top bunk of a nearby bed, the bear’s jaws clamped down on one of his boots. To escape the bruin’s grasp, Marx said he kicked the bear in the head with his free foot and “screamed like a little girl.”

When the bear dropped to the floor, Marx jumped from the bed and scurried to the safety of his pickup truck.

“Luckily, I wear pretty thick leather cowboy boots,” he said.

Buck Bloodies Senior Citizen

Game agency officials in Montana are on the lookout for an aggressive mule deer buck that attacked an 80-year-old man last week and has a history of causing problems.

Cameron resident Gene Novikoff suffered a broken rib, bruises and numerous abrasions after the 4-point buck knocked him to the ground and pummeled him with its front hooves for several minutes.

“I tried to get inside the house, but he charged me before I could,” Novikoff told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “I wrestled with him, which was a mistake. I’m 80 years old, he’s only about 2 or 3.”

The battle with the buck subsided when the animal became distracted by its own reflection and Novikoff escaped to his garage.

“Thank God I had the car cleaned a couple of weeks ago,” Novikoff said. “If he hadn’t gotten interested in looking at himself, I don’t think I would have made it.”

Wildlife officials believe the same deer has chased anglers on the Madison River, entered a garage, and has received at least two separate doses of pepper spray.

Warden Marc Glines of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the buck has no fear of humans and probably was once kept as a pet.

Blagojevich Signs “No Net Loss” Legislation

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently put his signature on an important measure designed to ensure the future of hunting on public land in the Land of Lincoln.

The Hunting Heritage Protection Act establishes in law that public hunting land cannot be closed without compensation. Henceforth, if a parcel of state land is closed to hunting, an equal amount of public land must be opened to replace it. The act provides that state public land management decisions, to the greatest practical extent, should result in “no net loss” of land area available for hunting.

The Hunting Heritage Protection Act also mandates that the Director of Natural Resources submit an annual report detailing areas that were closed to hunting, reasons for closures, and the compensatory areas that opened to hunting.

Illinois’ Hunting Heritage Protection Act passed the Senate on March 2 by a margin of 45 to 4. The House approved the measure on May 4, 112 to 4. The law will take effect January 1, 2005.

Quote Of The Week

“I can’t think of anything that brings me closer to tears than when my old dog — completely exhausted after a full and hard day in the field — limps away from her nice spot in front of the fire and comes over to where I’m sitting and puts her head in my lap, a paw over my knee and closes her eyes and goes back to sleep. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that kind of friend, but I’m humble enough not to ask any questions.”

-Gene Hill

The Dog Man

From “Tears and Laughter,” 1981

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web site, The Outdoor Pressroom ( to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at


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