Violators Look For Loopholes

Violators Look For Loopholes

The courts decide the fate of violators, while the ATA supports a bright future for bowhunters.

We all must know the regulations and laws, both state and federal. Sometimes that isn't easy, because game laws and regulations can be very complex, and they vary from state to state. Still, that's no excuse; we must know the laws and abide by them.

Of course, some outlaws knowingly violate game laws, and when they get caught, they hire good attorneys to find loopholes that let them sneak through the cracks. Here's one example.

In 2008, the courts suspended a Colorado hunter's license for two years, plus two more years for another violation. Then his license was reinstated, but when he was convicted of even more violations, the court suspended his hunting license for another five years. The hearings officer then tacked on another 20 years under a "three strikes you're out" sentencing provision. A court of appeals removed that 25-year suspension, stating that one of his convictions did not count as a separate violation. Who keeps count?

Some other hunters in Colorado were not so lucky. They drove across private property to reach public land and were charged for hunting on private property without permission.

When they pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of trespassing, their licenses were suspended for a year. They appealed on the grounds that the state trespass law was vague, but the court found that "a person of ordinary intelligence would know that hunters trespassing is a related activity to hunting." Hmm. That phrase, "ordinary intelligence," could be the clue.

This phrase also applies to Florida hunters who were caught with blood on their clothes, two dead deer, and rifles. They sued, claiming false arrest and violation of their civil rights. Thankfully, the courts ruled that there was plenty of cause for arrest, with no civil rights problems. Guys, the blood, two dead deer, and rifles were a "dead" giveaway.

Video cameras capture more than deer photos. When a Virginia farmer was suspected of using leg-hold traps to kill hawks, state wildlife agents placed cameras near the traps, but they did so without a warrant. You guessed it -- the camera caught the farmer killing hawks, and he was convicted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The farmer claimed that this violated his Fourth Amendment right to privacy, but an appeals court stated that since the fields were more than a mile from his house, the cameras did not invade his privacy. Smile, you're on candid camera.

ATA Hopes To Recruit More Bowhunters
Many of you have seen the "Take Me Fishing" ads developed to recruit anglers. Now the Archery Trade Association (ATA) is promoting a "Take Me Bowhunting" campaign designed to recruit bowhunters. Actually, the ATA has taken a leading role in working with the firearms industry to promote all hunting -- bow and gun -- and is now seeking major funding for this effort.

In addition to recruiting bowhunters, the ATA has a key goal of ensuring that wildlife agency personnel, hunters, and the general public know that hunters and the hunting industry pay for conservation and wildlife management. Yes, it's true. Some of our wildlife agency folks don't realize just how much hunters pay to keep them working. And a surprising number of hunters also do not know that they pay for wildlife management that benefits everyone. So the ATA is working to form a foundation that could put together a "Take Me Bowhunting" program. Great idea!

Archery Park Opens In Alabama
Many times I've written about the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and pointed out what a great success story this program has been. The spin-offs that promote archery, and then bowhunting, are many, and one is that archery centers and archery parks are springing up all over the country.

The latest is the Cullman Community Archery Park in Cullman, Alabama. This $285,000 park, dedicated on April 29, represents a coalition of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, the ATA, the Easton Foundation, city officials, public school organizations, and local bowhunters. The NASP and the After School Archery Program were the catalyst for interest in archery in Cullman. The new archery park has an eight-target range for beginners, an eight-target general range, a four-target bowhunting range with a 12-foot platform, and a regular 16-target walking range. Every city should have a park like this.

Several years ago the ATA began a program to integrate the archery industry with state wildlife agencies. These archery parks represent just one result of such cooperation. They are great for the future of bowhunting.

New Jersey Adopts Sunday Bowhunting
Speaking of success stories, on May 4, 2009, the Governor of New Jersey signed a bill allowing archers to hunt on Sunday on private property and state wildlife-management areas. Considering the huge urban population and anti-hunting organizations there, this is a big step for deer management and hunting in New Jersey.

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