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Barely Legal
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 • Posted June 14, 2013

According to the Associated Press, who I don’t, personally, associate with, a fellow in Klamath Falls, Oregon heard some barking outside his house shortly after he let his dogs out recently. Which was not unusual. But he also heard a roar, so he grabbed a rifle and ran to his door.

Sure enough, there was a roar out there, and it was coming from a bear. The bear turned toward him, so he shot it, twice (never be stingy when you’re shooting at bears) and it ran off. The man called the State Police, who came and found the dead bear about 100 yards from the house.

Since this happened in Oregon, that was pretty much the end of the story. The cops gave the bear to the Klamath Tribes, who ate the meat and probably used the rest of the bear for something or other. The fellow who shot it called in his dogs and went back to watching Jay Leno, or whatever. And the dogs engaged in dog type activities, sniffing and such.

Now, if this incident had happened somewhere else in these United States, things would definitely have turned out a little different. You may recall a similar story from Massachusetts, where a fellow shot a bear that was coming toward him in an aggressive manner in his backyard. Matter of fact, I believe I mentioned that story in this column. Maybe someone could check that out for me.

Anyway, Richard Ahlstrand, the Massachusetts guy who shot the bear, was charged with illegally killing a bear, illegally baiting a bear (because birdseed was present)(yes, birdseed), illegal possession of a firearm, and failure to secure a firearm. If he’d let the bear eat him, instead of shooting it, he probably would have been charged with illegally feeding a bear, and being dead in a public manner.

That story sort of reminds me of the old movie about Judge Roy Bean, in which Paul Newman played the judge. He shot a man in his saloon in Langtry, and then found two dollars in the man’s pocket. So he charged the dead guy with loitering and fined him two dollars. Otherwise, see, it would’ve been stealing from a dead guy. Yeah.

Anyway, the point is that these two fellows did pretty much the exact same thing, namely protect themselves from a wild animal that seemed intent on using them to grease his digestive tract, and they were treated in totally different manners by the authorities involved. The question then becomes: which state government is right, in how it views self protection against bears, and which is wrong?

That is a complex and many-faceted question that could be debated from now till we figure out who flung the chunk, and we would probably be no closer to an answer. So I’ll just step in here and cut to the chase. Whoever made up the rules in Massachusetts has the intelligence of mayonnaise.

The problem, I believe, is that there is a growing trend in America toward assuming that animals have ‘rights,’ just like people do. I know, it’s silly and ridiculous, but people are often silly and ridiculous, and once you start down that road, it’s hard to stop. It sort of snowballs on you.

For example, fifteen years ago the 800 residents of Talkeetna, Alaska evidently didn’t care for the candidates running for mayor of their town, so they wrote in their own, and he won. This is a great example of Americans exercising their constitutional voting rights, and I’m always for that. In this case, however, the winner of the election was a kitten named Stubbs.

Now, fifteen years later, Stubbs is still the mayor of Talkeetna, and is more popular than any of their previous mayors. He has so far never made a decision that irritated anyone, and never asks for a raise. His political affiliation is undetermined.

Outside of Stubbs, though, animals should be treated like animals, not people. Some would claim otherwise, and say animals should have rights. Others, people with actual brain cells, say they will be happy to grant rights to animals, as soon as they petition for them.

The animal rights folks claim we are animals ourselves, and should treat animals as equals. They also say a wolf is not evil because it kills a lamb, that’s just the wolf’s nature. But when a man kills a wolf for killing a lamb, the man is suddenly evil, because it’s not the wolf’s fault that it killed the lamb. This argument is known as the ‘Stop it stop it stop it!’ defense, and must me accompanied by foot stomping.

I agree with the animal rights folks in some areas, such as circuses and zoos, because I don’t condone mistreatment of animals. But when life or property are on the line, humans should at least be given the same consideration as a wolf. A wolf will kill you to save himself or his food. If I’m an animal (and I’ve been called worse) then I should be allowed to do the same, according to the reasoning of animal rights activists.

Ask the mayor of Talkeetna. He agrees with me . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who would rather have a dog for mayor than a cat. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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