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WishIWasHunting's picture
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Wildlife Officer Encounters

Does anybody have any stories, either positive or negative, about encounters with wildlife officers ("Friendly Forest Creatures" as I like to call them) that they would like to share?  I have not had any experiences firsthand, buy I have been told a few. 

On the positive side, my Dad talks about how he used to know several CDOW officers that were very friendly and helpful to hunters.  Also, he has ran into a few NGPC officers in Nebraska that helped point him in the right direction for finding good turkey populations. 

On the negative side, a friend of the family got in trouble for shooting a deer from the road, and that situation turned into a nightmare.  The short, and probably biased version of the story, is that he had surgery on his foot about a week or so before hunting season, and he did not want to give up his rifle deer license while he recovered.  When he was turned in, he cooperated fully with the officers, openly admitting to what he did wrong.  He ended up getting a whole list of charges brought against him, including poaching, the Sampson Law (poaching a "trophy" animal), and abandonment of game (which he only did because the wildlife officer explicitly instructed him to leave the animal in the field). 

I realize we probably have a few ex/current wildlife officers on this forum, and it would be interesting to hear from them as well.

Thanks! 

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I usually get stopped at

I usually get stopped at least twice a year where I hunt as one of the wardens lives about a mile from where I park and start walking. I have encountered about 8 different wardens around here in the last 10 years and have never had a problem but they are not very helpful. They are courteous and professional just not overly friendly.

On the other hand Wyoming is the best. I get stopped at least once a year up there and all have been super friendly and very helpful. On one occasion on our first trip to Wyoming we broke a law due to ignorance regarding a hunter management area but the warden did not write a ticket and sent us in the right direction to get the proper permission. Even though we drove onto blm from a county road it was part of a hunter management area and required a permission slip to trespass. And lastly for Wyoming my son left his jacket in a DOW office and they boxed it up and sent it home before we even got back.

My only bad experince has been at lake powell in Utah where I have had them try to prove I had been drinking and boating until half an hour later I blew a 0.00 for him. None of us had had a drink so then he gave me a 120 dollar ticket for my ID numbers being too faded and hard to see at a distance.

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There are always a few jerks

There are always a few jerks in any organization, including the G&F Depts.  That episode with the guy in Utah really sucks when they resort to writing a ticket for things like you mention that could very easily be handle by a verbal or written warning.  All that does is make people mad and not want to help them by reporting poachers and doing other stuff that the public needs to be doing because there aren't enough Wardens to cover the vast areas they patrol.

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That is just it, there are

That is just it, there are good experiences and bad experiences.  I have never had a bad one and I have been contacted by a lot of DOW officers.  When I hunted the Book Cliffs in Utah you had to go into Colorado and then back into Utah to hunt in one area.  The last year that we did this I had already shoot my deer and was driving my brother in law and nephew around in my truck.  On the way down the hill we spotted a deer so my brother in law got out of the truck and shot it.  I looked down the road and saw a truck coming up it so I pulled up to a spot so that he could get by.  It was a Utah DOW officer.  His first question seeing my Colorado license plates on my truck was are you hunting?  I told him that I had already filled my tag and watched his eyes get bigger figuring that he had a hot one.  After I showed him my license and he checked it out my brother in law asked him if he wanted to see his.  Since my brother in law was almost to the deer the officer drove his truck down to a lower road and checked him out.  We were both legal but there were a lot of Colorado hunters that would get tickets not knowing where they were hunting at, and with the first question that was asked being "are you hunting" and if you said yes you had better have the right tags.  An even better experience with one was in Arizona a few years ago.  The officer didn't have the slightest idea of where he was at since they told him to go patrol a certain area.  I met him on opening day and told him of a few roads that he could travel with his truck and where to stay out of.  That following Sunday he saw me and a friend of mine eating a very dry lunch on the side of a wash.  He stopped his truck got out pulled a cooler out of the back of it and shared some cold pop and pizza with us.  Now that was a cool officer. 

groovy mike's picture
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just one - you judge

I had one encounter in 20+ years of hunting.  The officer found me carrying my bow in southern zone where the season was closed.  The season was open on the other side of the road.  I had the wrong road in mind and had no idea I was in a closed area - had my license etc all like I was supposed to and sure wasn't trying to hide.  I was just a hundred yards over the line unintentionally.  He wrote me a ticket but put a Sunday date for court appearence on it. The court is closed Sunday so when I showed up , no one was there.  I explained that when court was open and the case was dismissed. 

I think the officer did it deliberately to give me a break but can't prove it.

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carrying a bow

groovy mike wrote:

I had one encounter in 20+ years of hunting.  The officer found me carrying my bow in southern zone where the season was closed.  The season was open on the other side of the road.  I had the wrong road in mind and had no idea I was in a closed area - had my license etc all like I was supposed to and sure wasn't trying to hide.  I was just a hundred yards over the line unintentionally.  He wrote me a ticket but put a Sunday date for court appearence on it. The court is closed Sunday so when I showed up , no one was there.  I explained that when court was open and the case was dismissed. 

I think the officer did it deliberately to give me a break but can't prove it.

Simply carrying a bow in a closed zone isn't evidence that you've hunted in that closed zone.  Now, if you weren't supposed to even be in there or if you had taken an animal in there, that would be a different story.  Otherwise I think that DOW officer kind of wasted your precious time on a Sunday. 

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Wildlife Officer Encounters

I've never had any encounters, but I've noticed that no matter where I go in the world, there are always some cops that are in their chosen profession because they get some sort of perverse charge out of the power to dominate other people.  It's not the rule, but everyone has a motivation for doing what they do in life...and some in law enforcement really get off on abusing people.  I imagine wildlife officers are no different...for the most part decent people, but with a few exceptions that live on the dark side.

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Mostly good

I have had really good encounters with Wildlife Officers with the pointed exception of one.

This negative encounter happened over the course of several years so I'll be brief as possible but it may get a bit long.

First a tad bit of history between this officer and myself. I originally met...we'll call him Bert, cause that's his name but I'll refer to him as B.H. from here on out, anyways I met him while I was fishing a Bass tournament with some friends from work and he accompanied one of them as their partner. He is , was, a likeable man and I enjoyed time spent with him both during that weekend fishing trip and other future encounters with him during the hunting seasons where we would sometimes sit beside a creek and eat doughnut during the noon hours when there were no sign of deer movement that morning. We would swap stories and he would point me in the direction of nice bucks he had spotted during his patrols.

It all turned bad when one morning I had went to the small country store to put a pig that I had killed earlier that morning in their cooler for the day. I returned to my truck to find B.H. standing there. He asked me if I knew where R.M. was hunting at and I answered him yes. He informed me that he had busted R.M.'s Pa-in-law that morning hunting over corn(illegal) in R.M.'s stand and he asked me if I knew if RM had put the corn out cause he did not believe that RMs pa-in-law knew the corn was there. I answered him honestly with a no. No I did not know that RM had put the corn out. BH then stated that as much as RM and I hunted together then surely I had seen him with the corn. Again I answered honestly that No I had not seen RM with corn nor had he discussed with me putting corn out....I guess you can all see where that conversation went.

About an hour later I ran into RM and so I asked him about the corn to which he said that yes he did put the corn out but he would not confess to it to BH as it will not help his pa-in-law get out of citation. I told RM what I really thought of him being like that and went on my way and thought nothing more about it. I ran into BH in the woods several times over the next 2 weeks and he always went back to the RM corn issue and started to insinuate that I knew about it but was covering for my friend so I told him that I didn't appreciate his attitude toward me and his insinuations toward me and demanded that it stop. I am sure that pissed him off.

2 days later I am in my climber about 20 ft up a pine tree at that perfect twilight time in the evening when this Beagle comes trailing down my trail and it is wearing a bright orange vest with FWC on the back of it and sits at the bottom of my tree and lets out a light bay bark and sure enuff up comes BH trailing right behind the dog. He demands that I unload my weapon and lower it down to him and descend from the tree. When I reached the ground he asked me why I was not wearing my Hunter Orange. I replied "20 ft in a tree?" He replied "you aint in no tree now and you aint got no orange on" and proceeded to write me a citation for no Orange on while hunting.

About a week later I had pulled my truck off of the road....logging road, and was sitting on the tailgate eating some oysters and drinking a Pepsi. It was hot and I had taken off my shirt along with the orange vest. They were both laying on the tool box and my rifle was in the front seat of the truck. BH pulls up and apologize for the last encounter and asked me if I had seen anything that morning. Then after some small talk he asked why I did not have my orange on? I replied that I was not hunting at the moment so it was not needed. He the asked what I would do if a huge buck were to walk out into the road and stood there looking at us? I replied that I would put on my shirt and orange vest, get my rifle and if he was still standing there I would shoot him. BH said that I was hunting and wrote me another citation for no orange while hunting. This went on for the rest of the season, so bad that I finally moved to another area to hunt.

Things went better for the rest of the season and I had no contact with him while fishing the summer. The next season I am in the new area and on opening day I went to my stand that I had placed in the area 3 days earlier and low and behold there is a Business card of BH laying on the seat of the stand along with a quarter with a note on the back of the card telling me to call him, that it was important. I get back to the truck and there he sits. I asked him what was important and he replied that he wanted me to know that he was watching me and knew that I took off my orange vest before I had climbed up into the stand. Now I am pissed and officer or not I told him EXACTLY what I thought of him. Now he was really pissed. This sort of thing continues to happen over the next 3 weeks until I finally had enough and called his Lt. to get some relief. After a meeting between the 3 of us the harassment stopped....for that season.

Over the next summer he stopped me 4 times during the same day while I was fishing the lake and checked my license and boat registration and safety gear. On another day he accused me of BUI( I don't drink) and got all agitated when I passed the field sobriety test that were administered by a FHP trooper. A couple weeks later I was fishing along the intracoastal waterway where it ran thru the WMA that I also hunted. I would drive along the levee and stop and fish the spillways that drained the swamps or creeks into the waterway canal and the Specks and Redfish would gather there to feed on minnows and crawlfish that were washed thru the spillway pipe. Anyways I would sit in my chair and fish for awhile and let my weiner dog run around and then move onto the next spillway, etc..

I had seen the FWC chopper crusing back and forth along the waterway which was not unusual as they would guide ground officers to folks fishing the waterway. Well It was getting late so I loaded up the dog and gear and headed out. I was crossing Boarhog branch with the chopper hovering overhead but thought nothing of it really until up ahead where the trail met the main road the chopper landed there in front of me blocking the road and BH exits the chopper and ambled on over to me. He asked if I had caught anything which i replied yes and opened the cooler in the back of the truck to show him the fish. He then asked me what I was hunting for out there. I denied that I was hunting and didn't even have a weapon on the truck. He asked to search the truck and I asked him why he needed to search the truck when I already showed him the fish I caught. He insisted I was hunting out of season and wanted to search the truck. I declined his request and the threatened to call for a warrent to search the truck to which I replied I had no place to be at so go ahead and get one, I'll wait. He didn't say much but he started looking thru the windows, which were tinted, and that also caused the dog to start raising heck. He finally made the mistake of trying to reach thru the window to pet the dog and the dog bit him on the wrist. Now he was really, really pissed.

I got out the first-aid kit and washed off the bite, which didn't break the skin, and I showed him the dogs tags with his shots recorded on them and that calmed him down somewhat. He then asked me if i drove thru the creek? I answered " you know I did cause you were hovering overhead while I crossed it". He asked why did I cross the creek instead of following the road out to the main road. I answered that the road at the foot of the bridge was washed out and I had almost gotten stuck in the wash when I came thru earlier. He then informed me that I was driving off the established road and he would have to write me a ticket for that, which he did. I argued cause this was the very road and the very creek that he and I had sat at several dozen times eating doughnuts, egg McMuffins and drank coffee. BH told me that back then the road was established but now it is not. I took out the video camera and video taped them taking off in the chopper, and then the road in question and took the tape to my court date. The Judge asked me how i pled, not guilty sir, and after BH read him the complaint the judge aske me fro my side and I told him my side and asked to show him the tape of the road. He declined to watch the take and only asked me if I was driving on the road in question. I replied yes. Jugde say then i am guilty of driving off of established road. I asked him who makes that determination as he didn't know what the road was, looked like or whether or not the road was established. Judge looked at me and nodded toward BH and said "he decides whether or not a road is established".  I paid the $280.00 fine and court cost.

The last time I saw BH I was in a lil cafe with my wife having lunch when he came in and sat his butt down at our booth and I asked him to leave, that he was not welcome to sit with us and he complied and I have not seen him since.

WishIWasHunting's picture
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Thanks for sharing

That is horrible!  One question that comes to mind is "Are you wearing orange right now?", because I think you might be hunting. At least your dog got you some justice. 

Hopefully, B.H. either voluntarily or otherwise, moves on to a different career because it sounds like he is neither doing right by the sportsmen in that area nor the organization he represents. 

Besides the others you mentioned in this story, have you come across other individuals with bad experiences with B.H.?

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Not wearing orange now

No I am not wearing orange now but I am keeping an eye out for anyone that may sneak around to look in the windows !!!

 

Yes there were several others that received similar harassment from BH. RM received some of the worst of it as it all centered on him over the corn. RM also got it from me over hunting illegally and putting me in the position to be harassed by BH. Last I had heard BH was transferred to the Tallahassee region because of the numerous complaints against him and it was feared that someone might mistake him for a Deer but I have no idea if he has actually been transferred or if he was, if it was due to complaints against him. I know that besides myself there were 3 others that formally complained about him and his law enforcement tactics to the Lt.

I know he was embarrassed when the Trooper that gave me the sobriety test looked over at him and told him that I showed absolutely no signs of being impaired and asked what exactly he saw me do that made him believe that I was impaired while operating my boat and he fumbled around with his words and never really gave her an answer. He was also very embarrassed when I LOUDLY told him that he was not welcome to sit with my wife and I at the Diner. The whole place got dead quiet and everyone was staring at him.

 

No Mike I am not a vengeful person but I did get my jabs in on him as I can be a pretty good smart ass. I can't say what the other "victims" did though.

After my experience with the Judge and the fact that my Step-Father and Uncle were/are both Law Enforcement Officers and knowing how they work I knew it would do little good to try and get back at him. As the Judge impressed on me, BH made the rules out in the woods and it was up to me to find out what they were and follow them. I am not sure why he didn't just search my truck that afternoon as he needs only "suspicion" that I was committing a wildlife violation to be able to search my vehicle, but I do know he was gonna have to do it over my objections in front of the chopper pilot and deal with my ferocious weiner dog. He is also allowed, according to Lt., to track individuals to their stand to see if they are following the hunting laws but he would never recommend his officers doing that for obvious reasons however they are allowed too do that.

 

 

Let me stress though that this was just one man. All of the other Wildlife Officer encounters I have had have been very positive with most being down right friendly while the others were professional like and did their business and wished me a good day and left.

On a side note. credit is issued to that Beagle for trailing me thru that swamp to my stand location. Given that I try to stay scent free as possible and there is a stretch of the trail a little less that a 1/4 mile long where there is standing water about mid calf deep and that dog still managed to trail me right to the tree. kinda makes one wonder how we ever escape detection by a Bucks nose.

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good thing that...

Its a good thing that you are not a vengeful person.  Bert has taken a liking to poking at you and a vengeful person would poke back, maybe even cost Bert his job, his dog license, his permit to carry a gun, his hunting license, maybe raise some legal issues.  People throwing rocks shoudl be careful of their glass boats and trailers and ATVs all of which MIGHT have some minor legal infraction that law enforcement could be made aware of.  Point is  if this guy is so fond of technical violations he should know better than to make any himself and there are so many rules that he (liek you) is bound to be breaking some of them no matter how hard he tries.  The difference is that a citation or two or three on his record might end his career.

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