Monday, November 11, 2019

Working with the new MDC enforcement Chief, Randy Doman

Caption .. Two years ago an MDC agent-supervisor stood on my porch with another agent for 2 hours wanting to find a technicality which would allow him in my house so he could take this deer head and perhaps 2 bigger ones. I refused to let him in, so he stood there and called me a G___D___ liar. He wanted revenge because I wrote about seeing him break Department rules two years before.
             Unless they have a search warrant... DO NOT LET THEM ENTER YOUR HOME, SHED, BARN OR VEHICLE.


From Randy Doman, Chief of Enforcement, Missouri Department of Conservation… “Mr. Dablemont, in a previous correspondence, you mentioned a desire to provide information that sportsmen should know to avoid problems with MDC enforcement.  I appreciate your efforts to educate sportsmen and women on hunting and fishing regulations, even those rules you may not agree with.  Avoiding problems with MDC enforcement is not difficult.”
1.   Obtain the proper permit prior to your hunt and have it with you while hunting.  Acquiring a deer permit after the harvest and then checking your animal on that permit is illegal.
2.   Immediately after harvesting a deer, hunters must notch their permit. (Select date taken on permit).
3.   Hunters must Telecheck their deer by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest, before processing the game, or before leaving the state whichever comes first.
4.   As long as a hunter stays with their harvested game, they do not need to attach the tag it.  But if they leave their deer or turkey, they must attach a tag.

Question for Doman from Dallas County…”I have been told that agents are allowed by law to go anywhere on my land without a warrant anytime and that they may search any closed barn or shed without a warrant. I have also been told that if an agent sees a mounted deer head on my wall through a window he can force his way into my home without my permission and no search warrant.  Is that true?”

Doman’s answer…”The 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure apply to conservation agents just the same as they do for state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, city police, etc.  The Open Fields Doctrine provides that open fields do not carry the same expectation of privacy as an occupied dwelling or curtilage.  Pending exigent circumstances, conservation agents may not search a closed barn or shed without consent or a warrant.  Conservation agents may not force their way into a home without a search warrant or consent based on seeing a mounted deer head on the wall.”  


Question from Wright County…. “I have 40 acres on which I hunt deer.  Around my yard I feed quail, songbirds and turkey in a couple of feeders and corn, soybeans and wild bird seed.  No feeders or food is more than 40 yards from my porch.  Can I be arrested if I hunt the back part of my farm, a quarter to a half-mile from my house with that scattered food therein my back yard?”

Doman’s answer…”Regarding the enforcement of baiting laws, citations are warranted when hunters are found physically within or immediately adjacent to baited areas. When hunters are found outside of sight of the baited area or out of range for killing an animal standing in the baited area, no ticket should be issued unless other evidence is present to indicate the hunter knew or reasonably should have known the area was baited and is hunting there because of the bait; Conservation agents may instruct hunters in the immediate surrounding area of the bait that further hunting in that area is prohibited until ten (10) days following complete removal of the bait. Agents are instructed not close entire farms or large areas of land simply because bait was found at a particular location. Likewise, adjoining property owners should not be considered in violation unless they were aware of the bait and were using it as an attraction to deer or turkeys for hunting.”

Question from Polk Co.….”In August (2018) an agent came to my house and gave me a ticket for having a live copperhead in a large aquarium in my garage.  I intended to take it somewhere to release, since I have heard you can’t kill one legally and I didn’t want the snake around my home. She had no search warrant but she took the snake and the large aquarium, worth more than 100 dollars and will not return it.  I was recently told it was at her home.  Is there any process where I can get it returned? I paid the ticket of 120 dollars.”
Dablemont’s note…. THIS WAS ABOUT 14 MONTHS AGO!


DOMAN’S answer…”In visiting with the Polk County Conservation Agents, neither of them report issuing a citation for a copperhead IN THE PAST12 MONTHS.”

Dablemont’s note… “Please ask both agents if they recall this case from about 14 or15 months ago? That changes things a bit. 

Dablemont’s question…Two years ago a retiring agent sent a letter saying your Telecheck System is being used to determine how to find a hunter and how big his deer might be (a question asked over the phone which should be eliminated) One agent says that system never results in visits from agents if it involved a doe or small buck.  Confiscated deer always are big antlered bucks… always.    And in many, many cases the agents keep the deer themselves.  People within your department say that one agent in Stone County has a shed full of antlers he refers to as his ‘retirement account’. The man who wrote the letter says no antlers are ever destroyed, as people are told their confiscate deer heads are, and when I asked past MDC enforcement chief, Larry Yamnitz, if any journalist or other interested person could actually watch that process where confiscated deer antlers are destroyed, his answer was a resounding “NO”

Doman’s answer…Regarding your concerns about conservation agents conducting Telecheck investigations, Conservation agents must abide by the same 4th Amendment protections as any other law enforcement officer.  Conservation agents often follow up on deer Telechecks as their schedules allow.  With the discontinuation of wildlife check-in stations in 2005, these Telecheck investigations have become an expectation and a valuable tool for conservation agents; not only to increase compliance with the Wildlife Code, but to ensure the integrity of the self-reported harvest data. 

   Dablemont’s advice to all hunters…Before you hunt deer, read that letter about how the telecheck system can be used against you. It is posted on larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com. You can be somewhat protected by describing the base size and point number of your buck as smaller than it actually is or refusing to answer. You have that right, even if you are told differently. Also, if you have killed a big buck, wait several hours to report it.  It does not have to be called in until shortly before 10 p.m.




Telecheck MDC





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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Recollections of An Old Fashioned Angler


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---Finally I have finished the book I have worked on for so many years, entitled, “Recollections of an Old-Fashioned Angler.” It is being printed this week. I am numbering and signing the first 100 of those books to come off the press, and will inscribe one to you if you’d like.  The book is 40 chapters, 288 pages and dozens and dozens of old photos.  The cost, including postage, is $15. To get your copy, you can call 417-777-5227 to pay with credit card or you can send a check to Recollections, Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613

Charlie Hartman Jr.







       In October of 1958, I turned eleven years old. Dad had promised that when I turned eleven I could go with him on a duck hunt down the Piney River. And there I was, the first Saturday in November, sitting on the front seat in his wooden johnboat, looking through the blind he had attached to the bow, shaking with excitement.. I was to watch and listen and learn so that when he thought the time was right I could sit there actually hunting with my own gun.

       We put in that morning at the Dogs Bluff bridge. Downstream an hour later, in the Paw-Paw bottoms, I saw a mallard hen swimming amongst falling leaves in the midst of the eddy, and Dad paddled slowly forward, finally turning the boat sideways so he wouldn’t have to shoot over my head.  The mallard flushed and Dad’s old 97 Winchester roared and I was elated. We’d have wild duck for dinner that week.

       Downstream about an hour later, a young fox squirrel climbed high into the branches of a riverside maple, and Dad shot it. No river duck hunt took place back then without 2 or 3 fox squirrels being part of trip. This fox squirrel though, fell dead into the crotch of tree limbs and stuck there, about 20 feet above the river’s edge. That was an historic site for me as I grew older, because it was just below where the old Lone Star Mill house had once stood, the place where my grandfather had spent many years raising a family. Dad had grown up there. In the book “Little Home on the Piney” which I wrote about my dad’s boyhood, there are many pages about, and many pictures of, that old mill from the 1930’s when he was a kid. 

       Dad thought he was a better climber than he was, and he wasn’t about to let a squirrel he killed go to waste. So he climbed the tree in hip-wader rubber boots and as he reached for the squirrel he slipped. I still remember that awful sight. The bank was steep and large roots grew out above the water. Dad’s body crashed against those roots and he fell into the water, unconscious for a few seconds. Back then I was so small, only about five-foot tall and less than 100 pounds. Dad was six-foot-three and more than 200 pounds.  His face was bleeding badly and he was in tremendous pain from several broken bones. But the water was only about two feet deep and as he reached out and grabbed those roots, I got into the water and tried my best to help him. 

       Somehow he crawled up to a level spot above the water and just lay there on his back, blood all over his face, moaning and gasping. You cannot imagine my fear. I just knew I was watching my dad die, but he was able to tell me how to get to the highway a mile away. I was very fast back then, and a good fence climber. I couldn’t find the little lane that came down to the old mill, but I didn’t need to. I remember dashing through a hundred yards of woodland to a green field, where I easily cleared a fence, seeing a big bull with horns there that just increased my fear.
 
       He headed toward me but no bull that ever lived could have caught me that day. Thank God the first car stopped, a green 1950 Ford driven by someone my dad had considered his enemy. That in itself is one of the most amazing stories which came from that day. I’ll tell it later! The man knew of the old lane to the mill, and in a matter of minutes we were getting my father in the car and heading to the doctors office in Houston. The way he was grimacing in pain stretched across the back seat, and all the blood on his face made me sure he was about to die, and no eleven-year-old kid ever prayed like I did that day.
 
       While I waited outside the doctor’s office, Mom assured me Dad was not going to die, an assurance that didn’t help much, with all the tears running down her face.
As I waited and prayed, a tall man with a big smile came in and knelt down beside me and asked if I would go with him to retrieve our boat and dad’s shotgun. His name was Charles Hartman Jr. I had seen him before, he was my dad’s friend and they fished together and he and his wife and young son had been at our house many times. But I didn’t know him, really. Charlie knew perfectly well how to get to that boat, but he wanted me to show him where it was, I think he knew I needed to get my mind off of dad’s plight. He and I, he told me, had to float it all the way down to Mineral Springs ford where his wife Evelyn would be waiting with dad’s pick-up. It was a trip that took a few hours, but one I will remember forever.
 
       That day Mr. Hartman took the tears off my face by talking about everything I needed to hear… how tough my dad was and how he’d be back on the river with me, likely the next week-end. With strong sure strokes he paddled us over swift shoals and through quiet eddies and talked about the beautiful day and how wonderful it was to have a day on the Piney in the Fall. He was not at all quiet or sad. I don’t know that he even knew how bad my father was, but he quickly convinced me that if my Mom would have let him, Dad would have been with us right then, floating down the river. Everything was going to be alright.

       By the time we arrived at Mineral Springs, the tears were gone, and I knew a man who was to become one of our family’s greatest supports, my father’s closest friend and brother, and the only man I would ever put on the same level as my Dad. The only one!

       So fast forward to the first Saturday of November, sixty-one years later. I was in Houston to attend the funeral of Charles Hartman Jr. Don’t you know my mind kept wandering back to that Saturday exactly sixty-one years ago. There isn’t enough room in the allotted space for this column to continue with what I want to say about that special man… so I will conclude this column next week. I hope you can make it a point to read it.