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.
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