The Ted Nugent Alaska Bear Hunting Fiasco

In May 2009, Ted went bowhunting in Southeast Alaska and filmed it for his TV show. A black bear came to his bait and he shot. The arrow grazed the animal, but clearly didn’t kill it, or seriously wound it. Ted and others looked and found a few drops of blood and cut hair. Importantly, they found the arrow and saw that it didn't go through the bear. They determined the animal was okay and would survive. Four days later, Ted shot and killed a different bear.

According to this story from the Alaska Dispatch (the most fair and balanced report I have read on this fiasco): The law Nugent broke is one of which even most Alaska hunters appear unaware. It is even a little difficult to find in the middle of page 16 of the state hunting regulation booklet. In Units 1 - 5 and Unit 8, a black or brown (grizzly) bear wounded by a person counts against that person's bag limit for the regulatory year in which the bear is taken….'wounded' means there is sign of blood or other sign that the animal has been hit by a hunting projectile.'

And so after 3 years, Federal prosecutors charged Ted with a violation of the Lacy Act for bringing the dead bear (illegally killed they say) across state lines. It is interesting and perhaps telling that apprarently the state had decided not to prosecute, so the Feds came in.

This is one of the most egregious examples I have seen in some time of a man being bitten by an obscure and silly regulation. I know, I know: It is our responsibility to know the hunting regs and follow them to the letter of the law. I get that. But as the Alaska Dispatch story points out: The (Alaska Board of Game’s) intention when it dealt with the issue was to minimize what is commonly called "wounding loss.'' The board wanted hunters to give up the hunt if it appeared a bear might have been injured badly enough that it likely died even if it wasn't found.

It was NOT, I dare say, meant to stop well-intentioned people from hunting (or bust them for a game violation) if they make a poor shot and graze a bear (or any animal) that will clearly live another day. This happens in the real world of hunting. Responsible people shoot over or under animals (with arrows and bullets), nick them, look for hours and determine that the animal is not mortally wounded. And so they go back to hunting. I have done it; you have done it. We never intended to waste game or break some ambigious law.

Many people believe that Nugent could have fought this petty charge and won, but he agreed to a plea to pay a $10,000 fine, serve two years probation and tape a public service announcement to air during his TV show. I wish Ted had fought and won. I understand why he pleaded out.

The takeway is that you never know what obscure, ambigious and sillly regulation(s) is buried in any state or province’s hunting booklet. This year I am going to read from front to back the regs in every state/province I hunt it, even my home VA. You do it too. I admit I have not done this in recent years, but this story of misguided regulations and charges concerns and even scares me, and it should you too. The fact that the Feds got involved in Ted’s case scares me some more.

BTW, as the Alaska Dispatch story points out, someone obviously ratted Nugent out. IMO, it was likely some local hunter who saw the show and was jealous and angry that Ted had the gall to hunt there. Who else would have known or cared about this petty regulation?

This does not surprise me. Years ago I used to hunt in Alaska some (some pictures). It is without question the one place you need to see and hopefully hunt before you die—wild, spectacular, awesome. But just don’t take a film crew or write about it. Every story I wrote about my adventures up there hunting sheep, moose, goat, etc., I would get angry letters from local hunters teling me I had done something wrong, and to stay the hell home. And that was back in the day before hunting TV and, my gosh, the Internet. I can’t imagine the hate mail I’d get today. I’d love to hunt Alaska again (really want to go for coastal blacktails) but I don’t think it’s worth the hassle.

Your thoughts? comment

jjas's Gravatar I hardly think Nugent did this on purpose but the old saying "ignorance of the law is no excuse" certainly applies. This is Nugent's second brush
with game laws that has been in the news in the last couple of years and I would hope he'd be more careful in the future.
# Posted By jjas | 4/25/12 1:25 PM
fred's Gravatar And you thought you had free speech in this country... GUESS AGAIN. This is another example of the "Environ Nazis" in our government who are trying to take away our hunting and fishing privileges along with eradicating the second amendment. Hide your guns and ammo 'cause that kind exist in both parties. When will someone normal and intelligent run for office?
# Posted By fred | 4/25/12 1:38 PM
Silverback's Gravatar this is a perfect expamle of a law that needs some judgment behind it. Just because a law is writtin into the law books does not mean it is a proper law. The problem is the "JUDGE"ment needed I don't trust so much anymore. Get the wrong judge and you are done. Any well versed judge would have just excused this issue. But it's just not like that anymore.
# Posted By Silverback | 4/25/12 2:21 PM
JDAM's Gravatar Alaska, that has always been a dream of mine. A Dall Ram hunt in the big mountains. But due to the cost I think its always going to be
just a dream. With three kids its hard for a working man to justify that kind of money for a hunting trip.
# Posted By JDAM | 4/25/12 2:24 PM
Austin Manelick's Gravatar Mike, we know eachother well enough. I'm an Alaskan resident and have had the opporunity to take all of the big five animals that live in Alaska except a grizzly bear. During my 24 years as a resident, 16 years of hunting, I have encountered many Alaska State Troopers in the field. I will also attest that these troopers may be doing there jobs and checking licenses, but never once in my life have I ever felt as bullied by authority than when I was hundreds of miles from anyone. In Alaska make no mistake, you must play exactly by the rules or you will get caught, that simple. ADFG(Alaska department of fish and game) Brown shirts (wildlife state troopers) have no jurisdictions and can roam the state however they please. With a line of of confiscated boats, small airplanes, atv's, trucks, etc, the authorities of Alaska own the land, sea, and sky. You will be watched most likely from the moment you enter Alaska with the intent to hunt. Trust me it's just as frustrating as an Alaskan resident who subsistence hunts for a moose to feed his family as it is for a tourist coming to Alaska for a dream hunt. They think everyone is here to break Alaskas game laws, and will treat you like a criminal from the moment you pull your rifle from its case on Alaska territory. I don't mean to ruin anyones dream by any means, however I am preparing you for the possible dream trip of a lifetime or a complete nightmare.

The state troopers sicken me in my state (as they do many other residents of the state), they have landed on me with a small helicopter (two seater) and checked my licenses in moose camp. What's more is that they told me I had to get in the helicopter and take them to the kill site.. I took the chopter ride and got completely air sick and almost threw up in the Troopers lap. I showed him the kill site and told him we needed to hike to it (he said he saw enough) and he then proceeded to tell me I could not hunt for the rest of the day because I had been airborn that afternoon. Another regulation no flying and hunting on the same day. They took a valuable hunting day from me after I showed them my brothers kill site. The troopers are on a power trip, and Alaska's hunting can be a hunters dream or there worst nightmare. Trust me it's just as frustrating for us as it is for you, they are just big bullies. My question is how can you limit their power? Cause this chest pumping bravado our troopers exude is not respectable to any hunters who try to live out their dreams. I feel for the Nuge man on this rediculous footnote law... I have many more stories of the trooper bullies... When's it going to end...
Did they confiscate his bear hide and put it in their office? That is a classic State trooper move, confiscate an "illegal" animal and hang it in there office (cause they probably cant hunt) and brag about the hunter they confiscated it from. The Nuge man's trophy is probably in some large and in charge Troopers office where he is currently bragging about it today.
# Posted By Austin Manelick | 4/25/12 2:45 PM
BigDaddy's Gravatar I've fished Alaska more than hunted it but I have hunted the Chugash Mts. south of Anchorage an a bit over the Cooke Inletin the Alaska Range. I'll vouch for the fact the laws for both hunting and fishing are insane to try and follow an the state itself knows that. The booklet that comes with your lisence is more like a volume from an old encyclopedia few locals know the laws let alone a tourist, ask them for advice on a law and you'll likely be told "just use your common sense no one will bother you".
# Posted By BigDaddy | 4/25/12 2:45 PM
BigBee's Gravatar Ted Nugent so rocks! Hunt on man - hunt on!
# Posted By BigBee | 4/25/12 2:56 PM
hanback's Gravatar about 20 years ago I published a picture of me hunting on a glacier in SE Alaska. some guys writes the American Hunter
magazine and says I think I know where that is, like he can tell in all of enormous AK. He says did Hanback know he needed
a special permit to be there? He said he was gonna contact the authorities and get some action. Like Daddy adn Austin and
others have said, that's how crazy the regs/locals can be up there...
# Posted By hanback | 4/25/12 3:05 PM
Cary Dion's Gravatar It sounds like the state was going to drop the issue with Ted but then the Feds (Obama) got involved. Here was their chance to get
back at someone who is outspoken about our 2nd amendment rights and upholds our constitution. If you want to keep your guns and
the current constitution, VOTE OBAMA OUT OF OFFICE IN NOVEMBER.
# Posted By Cary Dion | 4/25/12 3:42 PM
BigDaddy's Gravatar better yet take him hunting drop him in Alaska without his telaprompter
# Posted By BigDaddy | 4/25/12 4:03 PM
Rodger's Gravatar If you have a Texas license plate the troopers in CO are no better.
# Posted By Rodger | 4/25/12 4:49 PM
hanback's Gravatar UPDATE: When Ted pleaded guilty to this yesterday, the Magistrate Judge that accepted the deal at a U.S. District Court hearing in Ketchikan said that he wasn't aware of the ambiguous law and called it a "sort of one-strike policy" and said: "It probably is not widely known, and if there is a side benefit to the agreement reached here today this probably will serve to alert a great many hunters to that very issue and may, in fact, prevent violations in the future and court activity for a whole slew of folks."
# Posted By hanback | 4/25/12 5:36 PM
David in NC's Gravatar It's unfortunate. I agree with you Mike that this should make you a little nervous and cautious. IMO, anyone that puts their hunts on TV needs to double and triple check the legality of everything they do for each state they are in. You know that he could just as easily edited the shot as a complete miss and avoided the problem. It wouldn't hurt to have a legal "proofread" of the show before it airs - maybe by a well versed hunter from the area.

Once your name gets trashed, it's hard to get that back.
# Posted By David in NC | 4/25/12 10:04 PM
Luke Strommen's Gravatar Uncle Ted will bounce back from this, no worries. Still proud to say I'm on his side. I will skip my rants on political motivation. Play on, Ted,
Play on....(cue guitar and firey arrow)....
# Posted By Luke Strommen | 4/26/12 12:18 AM
hanback's Gravatar just had a guy on Twitter criticize me for protecting Ted since I'm a TV hunter i need to protect Ted...
amazing how people rant and criticize, why can't we just have meanningful, thoughtful discussions and stop all the
criticizing and mane calling???
# Posted By hanback | 4/26/12 6:25 PM
hanback's Gravatar mame calling, ha! name calling!
# Posted By hanback | 4/26/12 6:26 PM
flatlander's Gravatar folks will get all worked up over a game violation and they should if in fact the resource was squandered or abused but really it wasn't this is like getting a seat belt ticket in Illinois, it's going to happen at some point but it will get portrayed as if he was a murderer someone. Ted probably brings some of this on himself, that being said, i would still stand up for him. A guy who hunts the hours and places he does will likely have something like this happen. I get emails weekly in Illinois from folks asking if I have any clarity on one law or the other. I feel the Gov.t should and could do a much better job of making game laws easliy understood and known. For fun at sprot shows I like to ask the game warden tricky questions, later I'll ask another warden the same question, rarely do I get the same answer across the board. If they can't know it all how can we............ my take.......cut Ted some slack and write the ticket to a Government that can't even run off a simple ballanced budget that we are legally obligated to do in our very households. Just another case of Big brother puttin' it the man.....never changes
# Posted By flatlander | 4/26/12 6:40 PM
John Furnier's Gravatar Does anyone find it interesting that the FEDS prosecuted Ted, and that Ted has been an outspoken critic of the Emperor? Why not let the state of Alaska followup on this "heinous" crime? Politics at its finest.
# Posted By John Furnier | 4/27/12 9:01 PM
Tom's Gravatar Ted needs to learn how to read. This is his second (that I know of) game violation that he has gotten pinched for. After the first one, you'd think a TV personality who is airing his hunts would be very careful not to be a repeat offender. Not sure what kind of guidelines are in place between California and Alaska, but if its anything like most mid-west states, he could lose his hunting privileges in multiple states
# Posted By Tom | 4/28/12 9:49 PM
American-Nimrod's Gravatar The worst part in all this is the complete disregard for State's Sovereignty by our Fedzilla fascist power-mongers. The state had investigated and made it's determination, and had dropped the charges and dismissed the issue with their own will and a doctrine of Nolo-Prosecuti Who the F are the Feds to arbitrarily dismiss the findings of The State of Alaska and persecute this American citizen for their own political assault?!?

Shame on our Federal Government for assuming to spend our hard-earned tax revenues witch-hunting American citizens that exercise their American Freedom of speech in opposition to an abject failure of a regime and CE running the show!!!

This is the epitome of unAmerican!!!

Shame on the Obama administration for being so transparently fascist!!!

Who's next?
# Posted By American-Nimrod | 5/8/12 9:42 AM
Martin Aston's Gravatar Nugent appears to be the target of political harrassment and is being scape-goated not for infringement of an obscure law but for his outspoken political opinions.

This issue runs deeper than minor hunting violations; it is a direct attempt at character assassination against Ted Nugent by the Obama administration, probably
emanating from the "head honcho" himself.

It is borne of fear of Nugent's hyper-critical/astute analyses of the current state of political situations in the USA and their potential ramifications.
# Posted By Martin Aston | 5/8/12 11:44 AM
dark sky's Gravatar Ted you rock I have heard alot about those so called dnr.its there way or the all the money you have on you and your kill as well.
sorry about your grief with tose clowns
# Posted By dark sky | 6/12/12 9:43 PM
Larry's Gravatar Thanks Mike for a good, honest assessment
# Posted By Larry | 6/30/12 12:42 AM
Harry Wood's Gravatar Ted has hunted with me several times and is always welcome in my camp Harry Wood Guide&Outfitter
# Posted By Harry Wood | 3/23/14 9:16 PM