Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors
Jan. 26, 2005
One Toke Over The Line
Now, what did I do with those rolling papers? The Outdoor News Hound goes psychedelic and hippy-dippy this week with a selection of stories guaranteed to blow your mind clear to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. What are we smoking? Well, for starters, we have tales about a pothead deer hunter, a deer plot that was mistaken for a marijuana field, state legislators voting to officially recognize imaginary animals … hey man, far out!
Provincial wildlife officers in Alberta doing routine checks last fall detected a telltale odor coming from a deer hunter. However, the smell was nothing like the scents commonly used by modern whitetail aficionados — it wasn’t doe estrous, buck urine or anywhere close to Tink’s 69. Nope, to the highly-trained law enforcement’s olfactory, it was pot, pure and simple.
As a result, Patrick Allan Mitchell, 38, of Blackfalds, was ordered to pay $1,800 after pleading guilty in Didsbury provincial court last week to charges of hunting while under the influence of marijuana.
“We think it is one of the highest fines ever levied in the province for hunting while impaired by a drug,” said wildlife officer Jim Mitchell. “It’s obvious from the fine that this kind of activity — where it’s a danger to the public, will not be tolerated.”
After the officers initially detected the smell of marijuana, a further check of Mitchell’s vehicle revealed that he had smoked the drug and was under its influence while hunting.
In addition to the fines, Mitchell was banned from hunting for three years.
Pot — Not!
In another story involving deer hunting and marijuana, a Mississippi hunting club is suing the local law enforcement agency for destroying several acres of its deer-attracting food plots, mistaking the kenaf plants growing there for illegal cannabis.
Authorities raided the Boargog Hunting Club in September and seized 500 “suspicious” plants. Sheriff George H. Payne Jr., said his deputies were assisting agents assigned to a federal drug enforcement team.
In his suit naming the sheriff’s department, club owner Marian Waltman is seeking $225,000 in compensation and damages. The plants were variety of African kenaf, and were growing on land leased by the club from a timber company. Waltman’s complaint accuses the sheriff and his agents of negligence, trespassing, invasion of privacy and defamation. The case is scheduled to be heard in U.S. District Court later this year.
Kenaf is popular as a deer attractant and supplement in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia. It comes in several varieties, including one with leaves that resemble marijuana, and another with heart-shaped leaves similar to the hibiscus plant. The kenaf variety in question has seven leaves on top and okra-like leaves on its bottom. Marijuana (cannabis) plants have five leaves.
From the Outdoor News Hound “What Were They Smoking? Department,” comes the story of last week’s Wyoming House of Representatives’ vote to establish the whimsical jackalope as the state’s “official mythical creature.” For the uninitiated, the fictional Wyoming jackalope is the part-jackrabbit, part-antelope “animal” whose stuffed heads line the shelves of tourist-frequented roadside venues across the West.
After a lopsided, 45-12 vote in the House, the jackalope designation bill moves to the Wyoming Senate, where it appears to have no concerted opposition.
“It’s highly possible it will certainly boost the tourism industry, which has a lot of gift shops and sells all kinds of different jackalopes,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Dave Edwards, R-Douglas.
Here at The Outdoor News Hound, we’re concerned the official designation might give animal protection groups incentive to try to further protect the jackalope, perhaps even calling for its listing as an federally-endangered species.
In our opinion, we’d rather see a limit of two a year, a buck and a doe.
Outdoor News Hound Almanac
The Jackalope Story
Last year marked the passing of 82-year-old Douglas Herrick, the man credited with creating Wyoming’s famed jackalope.
A Douglas native, Herrick first heard the legend of the mythical creatures reputed to be part jackrabbit, part antelope from his grandfather. Folk tales portray the jackalope as a ferocious creature that attacked anything, which threatened it.
As a teenager, Herrick took mail-order taxidermy courses. He is said to have created the first physical portrayal of the jackalope in 1939 by screwing antelope horns into a mounted jackrabbit.
The first jackalope was hung in the LaBonte Hotel in Douglas, which now has an eight-foot statue of the creature greeting entrants to the Wyoming State Fair. A 13-foot silhouette of a jackalope also rests on a hillside near town.
“I think it was kind of a joke,” Herrick’s taxidermist son, Mike, said. “A lot of taxidermists fool around. But he didn’t know they would get so popular. I know he didn’t know.”
While he never patented his invention, Herrick was given a proclamation in 1985 by former Gov. Ed Herschler that named Wyoming the critter’s official home.
Quote Of The Week
“I have a lot of people come in here thinking that they are real. They ask me where they can go to see one. I tell them that the bucks are hard to find, but I can show them a bunch of does.”
-Mike Herrick, Wyoming jackalope taxidermist
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom (www.outdoorpressroom.com and The Outdoor Weblog www.outdoorweblog.com ) to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.