Talk around the campfire this week, and it’s just “camp” talk, jumped to night hunting and why most all of us, federal and state game agents included, call it “hunting.”
“Look, and don’t you dare use my name in your newspaper, what this is ain’t huntin’ and I don’t know what to call it except stealing,” an old friend said.
He’s older than most folks and we’ve talked about a time nearly 80 years ago when times were pretty tough on folks, and, most times, game was the only meat on the table.
“It’s easy. Bull-eyeing rabbits was easy and we could afford .22 (caliber) bullets and you learned it only took one to put a lapin on the table,” he said. “If you needed more than one bullet, Pere would scold you for a week. We didn’t have the deer back then we have today. Maybe it was because so many were killing them at night.”
So if you didn’t grow up in a Cajun family, “lapin” is French for rabbit, and “Pere” was his father. Oh yeah, and bull-eyeing is using a light of some kind at night to shine the darkness away, find game — and the light freezes the animal if only for a few seconds — and get off a killing shot.
This gentleman said he gave that up years ago, after World War II, when jobs were good and food was stocked in the homes along the bayous and rivers.
But there was an element in some communities that didn’t so much so that about 30 years ago hunters south of Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River across Bayou Lafourche and into the Atchafalaya Basin formed Hunters Against Poachers.
HAP was aggressive in pushing game wardens, districts attorney and judges to treat night hunters and trespassers like the criminals they were. And they succeeded, but faded away in the succession of tragic hurricanes and floods of the past 10 or so years.
The group was mentioned around the campfire mostly because of news from Wildlife and Fisheries’ Enforcement Division about two young men cited for allegedly “hunting wild quadrupeds during illegal hours,” the phrase from the news release that sent the old-timer into his mini-rant.
Here’s why: at 2 a.m. Dec. 2, patrolling LDWF agents reported seeing 18-year-old Talbot Daniels of Baton Rouge, and Alex Mabile, 27, of Albany using a light in a field near Labadieville. Their names indicate a familial tie to Assumption Parish. Talbot is a well-established surname there. So is Mabile.
Agents reported the two were “in possession of two rifles, a 6-point deer and a rabbit,” according to the report, which further stated, “Agents also cited Talbot for hunting without a resident and big game licenses, failing to comply with deer tagging requirements, possession of an illegally taken deer, failing to comply with hunter education requirements and possession of an untagged deer.”
Mabile was cited for this activity during illegal hours, and the report read agents seized the rifles, the deer and the rabbit.
So, these two alleged lawbreakers face fines up to $1,850 and the possibility of up to 285 days in jail for a total if all the regulations they allegedly violated are prosecuted to the fullest extent.
And, the report stated, “Daniels may also face civil restitution totaling up to $1,624 for the replacement value of the illegally taken deer.”
“I hope there’s a lesson to be learned,” the old-timer said. “Just when you think we’re go this night killing thing licked, something like this happens, and I can pray kids our there read about this and know it’s wrong, just plain wrong.”
A hard lesson
Another LDWF Enforcement report came across in an email last week. It was about another pair of young men who pleaded guilty to taking what agents said were “migratory game birds over a baited area,” Dec. 16 last year in Catahoula Parish.
The guilty pleas came in U.S. District Court in Alexandria from 33-year-old Tyler Smith of St. Francisville, and 25-year-old Logan Blanchard of Oscar.
Both also pleaded guilty to placing the bait, and Smith was fined for not having a basic hunting license nor a state duck stamp.
Judge Joseph H.L. Perez-Montes sentenced Smith to pay a $3,610 fine and suspended his hunting privileges for two years, and fined Blanchard $3,540 and suspended his hunting privileges for three years.
That's a lot less cash for Christmas.
Another CWD deer
A fourth Mississippi deer, this one taken in Marshall County, was tested and found to have chronic wasting disease. It was what Mississippi wildlife folks said was a year-and-a-half old buck killed Nov. 23.
Marshall County is north-northeast of Jackson, Mississippi, and southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, and is the first CWD-positive found outside the counties near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line along the Mississippi River.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fish and Parks sent a sample to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa for “an additional, definitive test.”