I recently had a run in with the NEW local game warden that quite frankly puzzeled me.
I had a friend/customer kill a nice 6x7 bull elk on the second to last day of the general bow elk season and brought it to me for a shoulder mount. a few days later the same friend called and told me that he had shot but not recovered a nice bear and I offered to to help him find the bear, skin the bear for a rug and help him pack it out if we found it. WE found the bear and it was still alive. my friend dispatched the bear and the work began. (everything legal)
During this process I learned from my friend that he had been contacted by the local game warden and he had some questions about his elk and wondered if he had heard some gun shots in the area that he had harvested his elk. to make a long story short my customer and the warden had agreed to go to the area of his elk kill and ensure that it was a legal bow kill.
The next day at my shop the game warden confronted my friend and a fight almost broke out in front of my business. I approached the officer after things cooled down and told hime that I was unhappy that there was a confrontation at my business and suggested that if my costomer was suspect to a crime that he interview him at a different location. I told him that I had helped him skin a bear out and that it was in the same general area of his suspect elk kill and if I had known anyting I would let him know immediately. The next day this same warden served a search warrent to my friend and came to the shop to sieze his antlers. He then informed me that since he was a friend of mine I probably knew more than I had told him and that I was going to be charged with interfearing with a state investigation and aiding and abbeding a felon. He openly called me a liar and said I had better come clean or it was going to get ugly. I have known this customer for about 2 years and openly asked him if he had poached the elk and he said no
I told the warden that if I had known that they were looking into the legality of his elk kill I would not have offered to help him but I know nothing to further their investigation.
This officer has been on the job for two weeks here but however has been in the warden service for about 7 years so he's no rookie.
My question is simply how would you guy's deal with this warden. He's sure I know more than I do and in my opinion doesn't have much on this guy to take to the prosecuting attorney thats why he's strong arming me.
I've had an excellent repour with the two past wardens and run a straight up business and wouldn't jepordize that for any poacher.
Needless to say I won't be helping this friend out agian because even if he avoids being charged he and anyone he hangs out with will be looked at as dirty by the wardens.
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This guy's been around 7 years and just got to your area? Wonder why he never lasted long anyplace else? I'd tell the supervisor exactly what you've stated here and tell him about the warden's heavy handed tactics of trying to coerce you. That's unlawful under any situation and his threats to arrest you on felony charges are no laughing matter. I'd have told him that unless he had a warrant with him that he was to get the hell off my property and never come back unless he had one with him. Bunny cops are often anti-hunting asses and it sounds as if you've managed to find one who's looking to make a name for himself at your expense. Make sure he pays for that priviledge.
As a trooper, Im about as pro law enforcement as they come but taking your story at face value I would be making some phone calls. Unfortunately there are some bad apples and some CO's will screw anyone over including other police officers to make arrests. Im surprised he got a warrant based on the facts as you present them. What ever the outcome watch your back, as a taxidermist the last thing you want is some CO on your back. Good Luck...Mark Natures-Reflection.com
George and Mark have excellent suggestions. I suggest that you record any other telephone conversations with this CO and anyone else that contacts you.
As ridiculous as this may sound, I also suggest that you place a video camera in your shop and have it hooked up to be able to record any such future events as you have stated. If you would have recorded what already happened, I am sure you would have the upper hand when push comes to shove.
Seek out a lawyer to have on a retainer just in case.
The bad thing about it is that YOU and your business are going to be under scrutiny and sooner or later (perhaps many times) the local cos will be going through you and your stuff with a fine tooth comb.
And never forget: you have TO PROVE YOU ARE INNOCENT.
I would definitely contact his supervisor but I wouldn't get to the threats at all. You're just asking for future trouble. In my state it is a privilege for ME to possess a taxidermy license and a CO has the right to be on my property and perform necessary searches during reasonable work hours. Regardless of your states' rules, this is definitely a time you want to be nice. Be honest and tell your side of the story and just let his supervisor know about some of the issues. Tell him that you always HAVE, and DID play by the books. And to let you know if there's anything YOU can do to straighten the matter out (there is not, because you have already stated you know no more, but you want to make sure that they understand you are cooperating to the fullest).
In my opinion, his supervisor is probably going to back up this CO for the most part. Don't dwell on the crap he said, just stick to the facts that you have already presented about you being all legal with everything. If his super isn't a Barney Fife-type as well, then odds are good he will believe you and move on...
Your state TELLS you it's a priviledge and YOU accept it. Do they tell your insurance agent, your plumber, your doctor, or your lawyer that? Taxidermists make up the most unprofessional profession in business. They follow blindly like sheep, never questioning where they're being led or how they'll get there.
I've referenced the Mike Showers case dozens of times and EVERY TIME I hear the same namby pamby replies: "That only applies in the northeast". BULLFEATHERS.
That finding was by a US District Court and has set the precedent in ALL COURTS, except for one small problem: Nobody outside that jurisdiction has the balls to take these state DNR's to court. Few of us could afford it and that's the imperativeness of having a viable national organization (another pipedream).
How some of you people will sit on your ass while you're being walked on amazes me. We hire INDIVIDUALS to enforce the law. These INDIVIDUALS come from a smorgasbord of lifestyles and intelligence levels. We PAY them for this service, but we are under no obligation to take everything that one of the INDIVIDUALS says as gospel. They are INDIVIDUALS, just like you, and so few of you either know or bother to learn that those INDIVIDUALS have obligations to conform to just like you. You have rights and priviledges granted you by much higher authority than these INDIVIDUALS, yet you just toss them to the breeze when some INDIVIDUAL wearing a badge shows up. Do you ever question HIS authority? Nope - never.
Mark, I'll speak directly to you as a law officer. I have the highest regard for you and your brothers and sisters who do your job. I know it's thankless in many cases and always results driven. But as a law officer, if you were in a friends home oustide your jurisdiction, out of uniform, and were confronted by a local yokel who demanded you take an action you knew was unlawful, illegal, or questionable, what would YOUR reaction to him be?
I already know the answer to that question. The reason I know it, is because Mark is just as well versed in his private rights as he is to the consequences of being at fault. As he addressed, SOME INDIVIDUALS who wear that badge abuse it, and they're no more like Mark than Jeffrey Dahmer. Within Mark's professional organizations, I can guarantee you that someone like that gets justice in the end. They don't brag about it, but when a professional courtesy is abused, police take care of their problems. It's just a damned shame so few taxidermists have that much professional pride in yourselves. The mightiest tool in the American citizen's arsenal is those freedoms GRANTED TO HIM (not privileged to him) through the U.S. Constitution. To just piss them away is unconscionable.
...it's a question of MONEY!
I don't know if you remember, but the UTA was formed in my state to take on this issue head to head. I was one of the few that did contribute a small amount to the cause. Getting organized and gathering the appropriate numbers to raise sufficient money was the main problem. It's estimated that it would cost about $30K to PROBABLY win the case. I believe the UTA made a bad choice in lawyers. She did pretty much nothing for a year and a half (besides sucking up what little money we did raise). And the UTA didn't communicate very well to their members (I heard nothing from them for over a year). We're pretty much back to square one.
The ITA DID get the violations changed so that the charge is considerably less (IF we were to make a clerical error - we're on the point system as far as violations go). Very little progress I know, but it's something.
I believe the UTA failed for several reasons. First and foremost, they were newly formed. They didn't have the presence of an existing organization to gather enough steam to get the job done. I admire their determination. Just not the right organization to take charge.
Why hasn't the ITA done anything? After all, they have some decent numbers. I believe the ITA WILL do something eventually. But, it will take them about 600-700 years to get there! They're too wishy-washy in their approach to anything when it comes to confronting the DNR.
So why not have the NTA step up to the plate? They've got the numbers right? They're organized right? You've got some clout there right George? I would bet they have a good standing relationship with most states' DNR's. Do you think they could get the job done? I'll bet they could. All they need to do is contact the 600-700 licensed taxidermists here in Illinois along with all the other states (taxidermists) whose 4th amendment rights are being violated. I'll bet you could hire one lawyer that would take on each state for considerably less than $30K. Volume work discount right? You can do it George. Give me a real reason to join the NTA. I'd gladly fork over a couple hundred bucks to get the job done.
See, the issue is a bit more complex than "having the balls" to get er done! I don't have time to spearhead this issue. And it really doesn't impact me. I use to work in the nuke industry, so I'm use to TRIPLE checking that all my "i's" are dotted, and all my "t's" are crossed. I go strictly by the book and I don't make clerical errors. My DNR can come in here anytime they want as they ain't gonna find any violations. If I get a Barney Fife type that goes out of his/her way to mess with me (which btw, I believe most CPO's ARE on the up and up. At least ALL the ones I've dealt with have been pretty cool. So I don't believe I have any worries), then I'll deal with that if it happens.
In the meantime George, why don't you talk to your NTA folks and see if they can get something going. I don't believe anybody here has the ability to get the job done. So the ball is in your court George. Again, give me a real reason to join the NTA...
You need to get on it as soon as possible. Let the folks at the top know whats happening. You have to get passed the regional guys as they wont want to do much about it. Remember you have rights that protect you, just as there are laws to protect game animals. Dont be afraid to stand up, if youre right it will come out and there should be no repercutions. Good Luck
Where is the skin of this Elk ?
If He shot it with a bow ,anybody can tell that an arrow killed it.
And gunshots are ovious, now if the customer threw away the skin, then he will have a lot of explaining to do.
As this Jerk is on the hunt to get himself a name.
I almost couldnt wait to get to the bottom of this thread to ask that. I think it is that simple. I hope he didnt throw away the cape and take antlers to a taxidermist! I dunno man
the cape has no holes. because the elk was shot further back. and since the guy was not considering a full body mount. he did throw the rest away? Is that not reasonable?
Might want to copy your post on here. I know it isn't PROOF of your lack of knowledge of any wrongdoing, but I would think it could possibly help show your innocense, based on your request for help in clearing your name and asking for suggestions.
I agree with Marty. It's not a good idea to have the law inforcement ticked off at you, justified or not.
Even if you present the cape, the officer will ask.."how do l know this is the same cape from those antlers?"
Now prove it.
"And of course
This response submitted by found myself in similar situations on 10/9/05 at 5:35 AM. ( ) 188.8.131.52
Even if you present the cape, the officer will ask.."how do l know this is the same cape from those antlers?"
Now prove it."
Isn't the burden of proof on the officer? You can't convict someone with no evidence.
I dont care one way or another. I havent shot my gun at anything larger than a woodchuck yet this season. I only asked a question that the law would ask sooner than later. Where is the cape? Hole or not. What was going to be done w/ the antlers? Was the taxidermist going to get a cape w/out a shoulder hit? Again... I dont care but I would assume those questions will be asked by the lawman. I would be interested in knowing who was wrong, who was lied to, or maybe who was harrassed by a green warden. Good luck
Ever heard of DNA ?, there is a deer Museum in a college in California that does DNA tests for the GOV. They can even tell what area it came from.
Wildlife Enforcement have all those things at their disposal, they can match a cape to antlers in a few weeks.
For your info they have testing kits they carry to the field and they can tell in a few minutes if the meat your carrying is male or female, so things are not as backwards as some think.
It's time you took the gloves off, and called the N.T.A.'s attorney-in-wiating, Mike Orapollo. He is in New York, and in five minutes, will acurately and correctly tell you how best to manage this situation, and he will assist in any guidance in the future with this problem. Breakthrough Magazine has his phone number and address, give him a call, explain yourself, and sleep well tomorrow night. I don't know if your client-friend is guilty or not, but I do know that having someone fully understanding the law and your rights, on your side, is very valuable at this time. My federal agents, in the South, here, around my shop, would no sooner confront any taxidermist I know in this manner, but, you never know his intentions, or his mood, and you simply don't have to put up with that kind of character. Listen to Mike Orapollo, and follow his instructions, and have a great day!
Thanks for the advice guy's I think I'll be contacting a lawyer soon. I havent heard anything since the threat that I'll be charged with a crime. As far as the cape I asked the same question. I do know that my customer had left it at the scene of the kill simply because of the remote location of the kill. The warden showed me a piece of the hide and rib cage with a broadhed hole and what appeared to be a questionable hole in the rib cage but no mark on the hide. and no bullet was retrieved from the carcus. either way I fail to see how helping a friend skin out a bear implicates me in the possible illegal taking of an elk?