Those of you who like to obtain your wild game meat without the distraction of obeying pesky laws concerning hunting might not like this column so much. Then again, rednecks seem to love it when Jeff Foxworthy makes fun of them, so you never know. At least I never know.
This week our topic is: Dumb Poachers. Someone at American Hunter magazine goes to the trouble every year to compile a list of poachers who have been caught doing really stupid stuff, and I happen to have managed, through sheer skill and good management, to get hold of this year’s list, barely two weeks after it became available to the rest of the world.
Poaching stories are the wildlife world’s equivalent of the Darwin Awards, which are honors given to those who have managed to dispose of themselves in the stupidest ways they can manage. Poachers often survive their encounters with the long arm of the law, so these aren’t actually improvements to the gene pool, but many of these lawbreakers lose their right to hunt for long periods, so there’s at least a silver lining, though slightly tarnished.
To be honest, these poachers are just the crop from September 2012, so there will no doubt be many more before the year is out. Sadly.
Our first entry actually includes a husband and wife team, Gerald and Karen Brown, who fell for the old Robotic Deer ruse in Sarasota County, Florida. Game wardens often employ the use of a stuffed deer with motors and servos installed, so the tail, and sometimes the head, can be moved remotely. This makes the deer look remarkably like a stuffed deer with a moveable head and tail. People who like to hunt the ‘Long Pasture’ often blast away at these decoys, especially if alcohol is involved.
Gerald and Karen were charged with discharging a firearm in public, hunting out of season, shooting wildlife from a road, trespassing, and being stupid. At least, according to American Hunter, they were both spared the embarrassing inconvenience of having to explain to their spouse how they ended up in jail. The bright side isn’t always illuminated much.
Louisiana, whose license plates declare it a ‘Sportsman’s Paradise,’ is home to five fellows who evidently forgot that paradise is not always in season. Yoan Hernandez-Casanova, Rico Hernandez, Juan Munoz, Miguel Farradas, and Yandry Almeida were apprehended when game wardens, acting on a tip, caught them cleaning some game in their backyards. This is not, of course, against the law, unless the game happens to be out of season. This game was out of season.
Authorities found, in all, six whistling ducks and eight rabbits that were not whistling, resulting in some heavy fines and jail time. In addition, wardens seized three firearms they believe were used to obtain the ill gotten game. Yoan and Yandry were also ticketed for having funny names.
But America, apparently, is not the only place you can find rednecks. China has its fair share, judging by our next entry. Six Chinese guys were arrested on suspicion of poaching five black bears. The taking of bears can be a lucrative business over there, since certain bear parts, such as gall bladders, are considered to be aphrodisiacs. Personally, I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter what I believe. Those gall bladders are worth big bucks on the black market.
The interesting part of this story is that, after searching the poachers’ homes, authorities believe they were killing the bears with homemade explosives. Which makes me wonder how you can tell, while whipping up a batch of DIY IEDs in your DEN, how you can be sure you won’t blow up the bear’s gall bladder along with the rest of him, thereby negating the effort of killing him in the first place? But that’s me.
We must venture outside the confines of September to find our most impressive Dumb Poacher of recent fame. Colton Lapp has probably broken some records in the area of illegally taking game. And bear in mind that the following list only includes the infractions Colton was CAUGHT at.
First, Lapp was convicted of a poaching charge in April 2011. Then, in December, he earned an accessory charge when he was caught with a friend who actually committed the indiscretion. Bad enough, so far, but it gets worse. Between his December 19 accessory conviction and December 28 of 2011, Lapp went out and poached five (FIVE) more deer.
Lapp is the first person in Wyoming to be convicted of a poaching felony. His plea agreement, besides requiring him to attend a boot camp program, bans him from hunting in Wyoming and 37 other states for the rest of his life.
At this point I’m supposed to say ‘let this be a lesson to you if you like to hunt illegally.’ But I’m not dumb enough to believe that anyone dumb enough to commit such crimes is smart enough to listen to advice. So I won’t say that.
What I WILL say is – if you’re going to poach game, don’t do it in Mason County, where I live. And if you do it in Mason County, please don’t use explosives. I’m already deaf enough as it is . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who has never used dynamite on rabbits. To date. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org