Billy Buspice, co-host of the reality-TV show “Wildgame Nation” and star of A&E’s upcoming series “Country Buck$,” had his hunting and fishing privileges revoked this week until 2019 by a Louisiana Circuit Court judge as part of his sentencing for charges of allowing an antlerless elk to go to waste and hunting without a license. Buspice will also be placed on supervised probation for a year-and-a-half and pay $23,000 in fines and restitution.
On October 16 of last year, hunters witnessed an individual filming a man on Buspice’s property shooting a calf and a bull elk. According to the hunters, the men examined the two carcasses, which were approximately sixty yards apart, and then departed without them. A man later returned to retrieve the bull elk, the hunters said, but left the calf carcass in the field.
The shooter was Buspice, who eventually stated that he had accidentally hit the calf while aiming for the elk. He also admitted to later instructing two individuals to hide the abandoned carcass in a drainage ditch.
The charges are not Buspice’s first. He received a citation earlier in 2016 for purchasing a resident elk license as a non-resident, and he’s also been cited for purchasing deer licensees beyond the authorized number permitted. In addition, Busbice is being sued in civil court by a hunter who was arrested in 2013 for killing a deer on Busbice’s property without permission.
As a result of the charges, Buspice is now banned from hunting in at least forty-five states until 2019, including his home state of Louisiana. Furthermore, violating his probation terms by hunting without a license could result in an additional six months of jail time.
Many hunters remain unaware that a license suspension or revocation in one state can transfer to nearly all of them. In addition, it can be difficult to remain up-to-date on changes in local, state, and federal hunting and fishing regulations each year – which means that many of the 15.4 million license holders nationwide may be unintentionally violating any number of laws.
If you’re planning a hunting or fishing trip – or if you’ve received a citation or been charged with a violation – knowing what your rights are can be crucial in keeping your license and privileges. Our office can help you ensure that you’re enjoying the outdoors – and that you’re doing so in full compliance with the law.
On Monday, December 8th, the Appellate Court in Illinois reversed the conviction of two individuals for "willful obstruction or interference with the lawful taking of wild animals under section 2(a) of the Hunter and Fishermen Interference Prohibition Act (Act) (720 ILCS 125/2(a)" People v. Holm, 2014 IL App (3d) 130582.
Adam and Daniel Holm, followed two deer hunters (one who happened to be a conservation officer for the state and arrested the pair on the spot for hunter harassment; kudos to him) on private property making excessive noise including whistling, clapping, laughing, revving their ATV’s and throwing gravel, and shaking tin cans with rocks inside. The Holms did this with the intent to drive away deer that the deer hunters were pursuing legally on their own private property. The Holms were convicted at trial level and fined $175 (a laughable sentence in itself considering the steep fines faced by hunters for honest mistakes in the field, but a discussion for another day).
The Appellate Court reversed their conviction because the Holms apparently stayed on their side of the property boundary and harassed the hunters from their own private property. The Court found this to be a permissive enjoyment of their own private property. Even though, their entire intent was to disturb the hunting efforts of their neighbors who were legally hunting deer on their own private property.
Doesn’t it follow that the permissive use of your own private property ends when that use interferes with your neighbor’s use and enjoyment of his or her own property? Why would the court not take into account the effect of a particular use on the properties nearby? The Court’s decision here not only affects hunters whose neighbors may have some interest in disturbing the hunting efforts next door, but to landowners in general. Most states, including Kansas, Colorado, and Missouri have laws in place such as this to protect hunters from harassment but we can only hope the reasoning here is not extended to those states.
In Colorado generally, hunting-related offenses earn the offender "points" on his license. Handed down in 5 point increments (each offense being worth a separate number of points depending on severity), when the total points accumulated in a 5 year period reaches 20, a hearing is conducted to determine the length (if any) of suspension of that individual’s hunting or fishing privileges.
However, any other crimes committed while in the act of hunting or fishing can lead to a hearing as well. Crimes such as littering, assault, animal cruelty, etc. can all lead to a suspension hearing by the Department of Wildlife. While these crimes do not have any point values associated with them, it is in the discretion of the State Hearing Examiner to look at the complete case file and determine if the crime should lead to a suspension of privileges.
As with any time you are accused of a crime, you should seek the advice of an attorney who knows and understands your situation and can help to preserve your rights and give you your voice in court. Speak with a Wildlife Lawyer at Welsh Law, LLC to find out how we can help you through the process.
My father, a hunter for sixty years, gun advocate, ex-hunter safety instructor, and patriarch of generations of outdoorsmen wrote an interesting take on today’s perception of our youth and the hysteria involving gun legislation, which I had to share. This is what we do not see in the media, read in the papers, or hear about on the evening news; an 18-year-old high school kid posting a picture on Facebook holding a shotgun (he received for a birthday present) because he is proud of his hunting heritage, not because of some evil intentions.
From a proud Grampa:
Last Sunday, my middle grandson Aaron, posted a picture on Facebook of his 18th birthday present. A 12 gauge Mossberg shotgun! Good all-around gun, 28-inch barrel, modified choke, vent rib, with duck plug in it!
Why is this important?
For many reasons; especially in this era of gun control debates, anti-gun hysteria, and family breakdown in all areas of life.
A few points to consider:
- Aaron is a good student, a high school athlete, musician, and was voted "heart of his highschool" by his peers. In other words a nice, sensitive, well rounded young man, and he hunts!
- In our family guns are a "right of passage to adulthood", just like driver’s license or high school diploma. Aaron has been target shooting on our property in Bailey since he was 11-12 years old! Rifles, pistols, bows, and even a slingshot…all potentially lethal weapons. He got a .22 for his 14th birthday for target shooting and small game like squirrels & rabbits, a 30-06 for deer & elk at 16, and now a 12 gauge for birds & water fowl.
- In spite of what is posted in our papers or shown on television, many families like ours, own guns because we enjoy hunting as well as the taste of the game we have taken. Anyone who has tasted a young elk steak or pheasant in wild rice knows exactly what I mean and a freezer full of elk meat means a long winter of good food. Even when we are not successful in taking game, we enjoy the family time and the male bonding that takes place around the campfire or cafe.
- I am proud that Aaron appreciated his gift enough to post it on a social medium that is not typically conservative or pro-hunting. He is standing up for his rights and his family heritage. That’s what he has been raised and taught to do! To the gun-control people, this is the exact opposite of what they preach about our youth. We know that Aaron has been trained well and respects that guns are lethal, but he also knows the joy of bagging a big game animal. He has had a lot of good things happen in his life but I think he would agree that one of the biggest was knocking down his first elk last fall.
- Finally, when our hunting pictures flash up on our digital photo frame, I can smell the leaves, burning logs, and all those smells of nature, which take me back to those days in the woods where my son & grandsons, grew to be men & hunters!
Thanks to my nephew Aaron for the inspiration and to my father for the words! Chad M. Biggerstaff, Esq.
On April 25, the Colorado House of Representatives passed House Bill 1330. Championed by State Representative Jon Becker, House Bill 1330 would create an appeals process for Colorado hunters and anglers with suspended hunting or fishing licenses.
Specifically, the Bill would give a person with a hunting or fishing license suspension the ability to petition the commission of wildlife to reinstate their privileges. A hunter or angler could petition the commission up to three times after half of their suspension was served if the commission determines that the outdoorsman in question is unlikely to offend again, has maintained a clean record since receiving the suspension, and finally, only if the suspension is their first. In the alternative, if the suspension is a lifetime suspension, a person can only petition after 10 years of the suspension has been served.
If the commission determines that the suspension should be administratively ended, the Bill allows the commission to order a $300.00 maximum fee, 40 hours of service on wildlife projects, or the completion of an educational course to be determined by the Commission.
The Bill could completely change the legal landscape for first-time violators. Prior to this Bill, a hunter or outfitter would face significant administrative penalties without an appropriate recourse. In Mr. Becker’s own words, "[t]his bill gives hunters and anglers in Colorado an avenue for appeal they’ve never had before. House Bill 1330 affords sportsmen a hearing process that will help them pursue their passion for years to come if no wrongdoing can be found."
Not only does this bill give a hunter or angler the ability to continue to hunt or fish in Colorado, but it would also affect his or her rights in other states under the Wildlife Violator Compact. In other words, if a violation occurred in Colorado, the other 35 states could choose to adopt any suspension levied by Colorado. Similarly, if Colorado chooses to reinstate a hunter’s privileges, other states will also likely be forced to consider the same. In fact, states across the board may begin following Colorado’s lead.
House Bill 1330 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
Stay tuned. We’ll follow this one for you and keep you posted.
Cody Doig, Esq.
Famed rock musician, conservationist, and political activist Ted Nugent pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal wildlife violation after he failed to recover a wounded black bear three years ago on an archery hunt in Alaska. Mr. Nugent agreed to pay $10,600.00 in fines and restitution and stated "I’m afraid I was blindsided by this, and I sincerely apologize to everyone for it."
Mr. Nugent, even as a well-traveled and savvy hunter, was "blindsided" by a labyrinth of hunting rules and regulations. Alaska, like every other state, gives each hunter the affirmative responsibility to know the laws that control every hunt. In Mr. Nugent’s case, he was responsible for knowing that even "wounding" a bear in Alaska is the functional equivalent of "taking" a bear and would satisfy Mr. Nugent’s bag limit even if the bear was never recovered. See Alaska Hunting Regulations here. Ignorance of the law is no defense and mistakes of this caliber can cost you thousands of dollars in fines, and perhaps more importantly, your hunting privileges.
Mr. Nugent’s case, however unfortunate, clarifies an extremely important lesson. Hunters, unlike football players or boxers, must heavily rely on their moral compass to decipher right and wrong. As Aldo Leopold observed in his flagship work, A Sand County Almanac:
"[a] peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact."
Already, hunting forums across the internet rage about whether and for how long Mr. Nugent should have followed the wounded bear and if he should have hung up his bow REGARDLESS of whether it was illegal to take another bear. See, https://www.monstermuleys.info/xf/threads/nugent-guilty-again.14426/. Hunters across the country offer different perspectives and most are contingent on a host of facts that no one but Mr. Nugent would understand. In fact, Mr. Nugent may have made a remarkably ethical decision. This however is of little consequence in court and clearly shows why we as hunters cannot afford to rely on our common sense notions of ethics in the wild. Our privileges as hunters may be guided by our ethics, but they are controlled by the law.
Planning your hunt, whether it’s an over-the-counter archery trip in Colorado, or a dream quest to Alaska, requires more than looking at maps. Your success is contingent on knowing the laws and following them closely. If you have a big hunt in the future, call us and let us help you figure out exactly what you need to do (and not do). Or saddle up next to Mr. Nugent.
Cody Doig, Esq.