Federal government taking notice of canned hunts?

When hunting, keep it legal

JCOnline.com, Lafayette, IN

This is not an Indiana story but the parallels are striking.

Country music superstar Troy Gentry, half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, was federally charged with a violation of the Lacey Act on August 15 in Minnesota for shooting a tame black bear in 2004 within an enclosure, then falsely tagging the bruin as having come from the wild.

According to news reports, Gentry purchased the bear from Lee Marvin Greenly of Sandstone, Minn., for $4,650. He was placed in a tree stand within a high-fence enclosure and waited about two hours before shooting the bear with his bow. A videotape of the “hunt” was then edited to make it appear as if it had occurred in the wild.

Does any of this sound familiar?

In case you’ve been under a rock, this is exactly the same scenario that landed professional bass fisherman Jimmy Houston and others in hot water during the 2002 investigation at Beller’s Place, a canned hunting outfit near Peru, Ind. Russell Beller plead guilty to three federal charges in 2005 and left the hunt business.

In this latest incident, Gentry’s attorney had a good explanation for all of accusations. He said the enclosure was “several acres” and the videotape was edited to cut “dead time.”

Similar videos I have seen from Beller’s place did skillfully cut the dead time from the hunt and also artfully made sure that no sign of a fence was seen on the screen.

As an aside, wildlife photographers were saddened to learn that the bear, named Cubby, had met his demise. Many professional photographers from across the country had also paid to take pictures of the huge, famous bear on Greenly’s 80-acre Minnesota Wildlife Connection property.

Reports note that this practice is somewhat controversial but very widespread in the outdoor media.

Greenly was also indicted on a number of charges unrelated to Gentry’s hunt, including guiding hunters into a nearby wildlife refuge where they illegally killed two bears.

As we have stated before, the more people learn about the methods and operation of canned hunts, the more unpopular they will become with the public. Apparently the federal government is also sitting up and taking notice.

One last note from someone with inside knowledge on a side topic brought up in this news item. At the risk of alienating many of my outdoor media pals, I feel it is my duty to keep reminding the public that much of what you see in outdoor media, especially television hunting shows, isn’t always a true and accurate representation of reality.

The huge deer, bear, moose, elk, turkey, gophers, marmots, badgers, giraffes and other critters you see gracing the covers of magazines are often shot from an angle where you can’t see the fence behind them. Unfortunately, that is the reality.

I could name names, but halos have a way of becoming a noose for holier-than-thou writers.

Another bad idea

The World Hunting Association (WHA) is sponsoring a series of “nonfatal” deer hunting tournaments in Michigan where hunters will tranquilize deer for cash prizes.

While the people associated with this event are enthusiastic and believe it will attract positive interest in hunting, I believe it will do just the opposite. Other pro-hunting organizations have also come out against the tournament on general principals and the idea that deer shouldn’t be treated like woodland largemouth bass. There is also the sleazy-money angle of the affair to tarnish the image of participating hunters.

This is such a bad idea for so many reasons we don’t have enough newsprint
to begin a list.

[text deleted]

Brent Wheat, based in Lebanon, writes a weekly outdoor column. He can be
reached via e-mail at btwheat@wildindiana.com.

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