Saturday, May 05, 2007

One Very Important Whitetail Buck


Do you remember those old clichéd phrases that never really meant anything to you until you found a specific cause to relate them to? You know, phrases like “making a mountain out of a mole hill” or “making something out of nothing”? Recently I found the United States Attorney’s Office in the District of Montana plans on convening a grand jury to further substantiate criminal charges stemming from an alleged illegal shooting and subsequent interstate transfer of a whitetail buck from eastern Montana some time ago. To put any animal rights fears to bed, the buck refuses to testify mainly because he finds it difficult to back out of the wall he’s mounted in at some distant fish and game office. Keep in mind this excessive government intervention revolves around one deer, not a moving van full of Montana’s finest ruminant mammal Cervidae.

According to my sources, the following synopsis characterizes the government’s substantial case. A Montana resident with a legal and correct sex /species tag and an out of state acquaintance hike to and fro searching for that perfect specimen. Specimen is found, dispatched, and dressed in the field. (Note to non-hunters, dressed doesn’t mean the hunters outfitted the slain deer in a polo shirt, khakis, and loafers) Out of state acquaintance enters a “Game Check” station before crossing into North Dakota en-route to Minnesota. Wardens find that instead of the out of state acquaintance’s name on the tagged carcass, Montana resident’s name and tag are attached to the animal and the Montana resident is not riding on the trailer with both arms securely hugging the furry quadruped. The Earth then spirals into chaos, lightning flashes, sirens wail, Miranda advisories abound, and for the love of God the federal police wade into the fray. Ballistics tests and fingerprint analysis ensue to determine who fired which weapon when and which tuft of hair landed on which rock and whose orange vest is covered with more blood and so on and so forth. CSI comes to Mayberry and Barney wants some answers.

The purpose of this written diatribe serves not to bemoan the state’s fish and wildlife department or the federal fish and wildlife office either. Both agencies have their place and purposes to serve. The argument symbolizes exactly what most taxpayers unfortunately pay no attention to anymore. This case glorifies the subtle way that government wastes thousands of taxpayer dollars to rationalize their position of power over a taxpaying public. In other words, the government makes quite a show with your money to “show you who maintains the power.” It demonstrates that rather than using common sense and good judgment to handle a rather insignificant situation, the government comes out swinging letting you know in no uncertain terms just how right they are regardless of the cost.

Let me be clear. I’ve hunted since childhood in eastern Montana and for most of us the unique relationship with nature becomes a fundamental part of who we are. I find poaching and antler/head hunting as reprehensible endeavors and contrary to the whole joy and responsibility of the hunting experience. I’ve never poached an animal or associated myself with people that do. However, the presence of a tag implies that one has paid for the privilege of enjoying and relishing in a successful hunt. I’ve even taken the protectionist stance in viewing out of state hunters with distrust and a scathing frown. The only reason they get a pass from me is because they contribute much needed money to the eastern Montana economy and their presence helps keep runaway deer numbers in check.

Apparently much of the malaise in this case could’ve been avoided if the Montana resident scribbled on a cocktail napkin indicating that the out of state friend had his permission to take the deer back home to Minnesota. But because he didn’t, that somehow justifies criminal charges in federal court and a litany of attorneys, briefs, attorney’s briefs or boxers, grand juries, fees, expenses, and in summation a large barrel of paper (both green and white) waste. Hunting privilege cessation, weapons seizures, criminal records, and character assassinations replace what could have been a simple misdemeanor ticket or summons to appear before a local judge to handle the case (if legitimate) with an appropriate fine and hand whacking.

I hope my dad never moves to Minnesota and comes back for a fall hunting trip with me. We’re not very good with checklists and I cannot imagine my nausea and panic when approaching a game check station having to determine if I fired his new .30-06 at the deer or if he did or if the deer committed suicide. Now let me think, did I put dad’s tag on the deer he shot or did he tie my tag on the deer I shot and did I use some of his bullets in my gun and are my fingerprints on his thermos and bologna sandwich bag? You know those bags are perfect for obtaining latent fingerprints for analysis. Should I take my attorney hunting with me and does the retainer apply to each expedition? I thought ammunition made the day expensive, boy was I wrong. What if his doe is hanging in my Montana garage because I already have plenty of meat and my buck travels with him to Minnesota and I forgot to scribble his permission slip to transport the animal on the back of a matchbook? My 61 year old father with no prior criminal history suddenly finds himself detained and charged after being in possession of a buck with his son’s tag on it and a federal case commences? I dread the day I take my wailing mother to the jail only to find Dad in his decorative orange jumpsuit and flip-flops. He does little to console her when he tells her he and cellmate Bubba seem to be hitting it off just fine.

You simply have to be kidding! Why couldn’t the fish and game officials simply call me and fine me $50.00 instead of tearing into the flesh of insignificance with gnashing teeth? Why not just call me to see if Dad’s explanation holds water and leave it at that? The government just crossed the line for the sake of justifying their budgets, quotas, and power base. They just took something from him he can’t get back and for what, a successful conviction and the social lynching of a law abiding citizen sharing a memorable (and legal) day in the great outdoors? I guarantee we no longer can hunt together or even possess the weapons we purchased to hunt with. Do you really want to question how and with what fury the government wields its regulatory authority? You better not if you know what’s good for you. You now fall into a category of active interest and your statements may come back to haunt you. When did the government’s regulatory authority supersede an individual’s Constitutional protections as dictated in the Bill of Rights? Would a reasonable person believe that society is better served by destroying the rights of an individual in relation to the questionable circumstances of one whitetail buck’s interstate transportation?

Is the government really concerned with the death of the animal? I bet insurance analysts everywhere revel every time another deer dies so that their companies save on the rash of car versus deer incidents on the highways directly caused by increased herd numbers. If you don’t believe me, just travel across Montana at night and see for yourself if deer are in short supply. I find deer in places I’d never seen them migrate through before 1995. I’m surprised insurance companies haven’t acquired the services of mafia scoundrels like Nuncio Cappuccino to secretly pay gun enthusiasts to pick off the plethora of deer wading in road ditches just dying to raise heck with car fenders and insurance premiums everywhere.

I am familiar with the mindset involved in cases like this. I am a former POST certified deputy sheriff and coroner in Montana with several licenses and training certificates suitable for framing. I have worked cases with federal agents, state agents, and even insurance agents. What I find most alarming is the “go after them and get them” mentality that exists in these over hyped cases. Lost in the whirlwind of quotas and successful criminal procedure is the idea that investigatory legal success trumps the fundamental tenet of protecting the citizens’ rights. Common sense got on the first train to Baltimore and objective reason finds itself replaced with a subjective and sometimes ego maniacal need to further a career or departmental image. These agencies believe that prosecutions, micromanaged cases, and convictions equate to protection of the public at large but instead amount to something far more damaging, the measured destruction of an individual’s liberties.

I think we all need to step back and question situations that seem absurd rather than buy wholesale doctrine from government representatives assuring you that their actions are for your protection and safety. Are the costs justified in relation to the words, actions, and assurances of those in power? Do the ends truly justify the means? Yes, I am extremely conservative and probably lie somewhere just right of Attila the Hun but too much is too much. I like to think the government’s primary function is to protect the citizens rather than persecute them. How would you feel if you passed a game check station in your pickup and a state game warden sped up to your bumper, followed you onto your property with lights and sirens flashing, and demanded to know about your actions and failure to enter the game check area. I did not go hunting. I was bringing my pickup home from the shop. Is that kind of violation justified, rational, or appropriate? The corruption of power is deadly if allowed to propagate. Just take notice and keep your eyes peeled. Remember to signal and come to a complete stop, you’re only one misstep away from being the proud owner of a criminal history.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can bet this scenerio would not have taken place in Phillips County.

Anonymous said...

I know just what you are talking about. We have a Federal warden in our state that even our own govenor wants gone but he's not finding it easy to have done. This agent is everything you describe in your article and maybe worse. The goverment is out of hand and I like you have had enough. These people forget that they work for the tax payers of this great nation. Let's get real is a deer shot that crosses state lines as bad as a drug dealer, rapist, or murder. Just shoot a deer and let the feds get after you and you'll find out in a hurry. Some may think after reading the article that this guy is blowing smoke but I for one know all to well he is telling the truth because I went through basically the same thing. ( Making a Mountian out of a Mole Hill)

Monte Davis said...

Hello fiends, i to have a horor story about Montana Game Wardens and thier abuse of thier own laws to cite 5 innocent people with 17 manufactured citations. All of which ook three years and substancial legal work to defend. The Govoner of montana and Montana Fish wildlife and parks refuse to admit theiedid anything wrong however several legal document prove other wise. Wold like to hear from other that had corrupt or illegal incounters with this agency. Would also like to talk with the Montana Conserative. Monte Davis 605-267-4811, nflkennels@valyousat.net

Andy said...

The penalty may be harsh, but it merely is an act of discouragement. If the penalty was $50. Nobody in their right financial fucking mind would pay the $350 nonresident license fee (which is difficult to draw)..... "Slap on the wrist? fuck it, I will take my chances." -That's what every Camo Californian would say. So you are right on some aspects of your argument. But rules are rules. They are there to deter people from breaking the law. Its obvious that people still do. That's why examples are made out those unfortunate few. I would rather have that guys $350 and tourism dollars for a natural resource. Than $50 at a Glendive gas station and $20 at Kmart. At least the state keeps that money.

The law is a permission slip. Not that hard. No slip...and risk getting caught and paying part of Warden Teds salary next year.