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 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.

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