Wiltz: When does the fine fit the crime?
The last time I went to Texas, we passed a signboard near the border that read, "Don't Mess with Texas." I believe it. You might recall that a few years ago I was involved in a parking violation while attending the Dallas Safari Club expo. Because of their shoddy treatment, I vowed never to return to Dallas again.
John Walker Drinnon of Whitesboro, Texas is going to spend his deer season weekends in jail for the next five years. He's also going to pay a restitution fine of more than $18,000. On top of these, he can't buy a hunting license during his five-year probation period. So what did John Drinnon do?
For openers, he was convicted of trespassing on private land. While on the private land, he poached a non-typical whitetail buck that scored 202 Boone and Crockett inches. The buck was record-book eligible. He also used a rifle in an archery-only season.
It is apparent that Drinnon's intent was totally unlawful, and I'll support the judge's decision. I would wager that the $18,000 part related directly to the trophy quality of the deer. I don't know how Texas handles trespassing penalties or using a rifle during archery season, but it would appear that Texas comes down hard.
I just used the word "intent." Technically, I don't know that intent matters with trespassing. One
either is or isn't on private property without permission. However, South Dakota Codified Law 41-9-8 hints at intent when it uses the word "knowingly." If I were ever involved in a trespassing arrest, I think I would plead my case in front of a judge and have them decide. Allow me to quote SDCL 41-9-8:
"Any person who knowingly enters or remains on private property for the purpose of hunting, fishing, or trapping, in violation of 41-9-1 or 41-9-2, shall lose hunting, trapping, or fishing privileges for one year following the conviction. If the person is the holder of a license to hunt, trap, or fish, the court shall require the license holder to surrender and deliver the license to the court to be returned to the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks."
Over the years I've been involved in two trespass related incidents. My intents were honorable, and there were no arrests, although there could have been.
I was pheasant hunting north of Wagner with the landowner's permission. A farmer came roaring toward me with his pickup truck and totally lost it! He cared nothing about my permission and claimed that his lease included sole hunting rights. Perhaps he had a case.
My second brush with trespassing came southwest of Wessington Springs. I was deer hunting when a gentleman farmer/rancher approached and asked if I knew whose land I was on. "McEldowney land!" I responded. "No, Schimke land!" he answered. I apologized before he wished me luck and told me to carry on.
We know how South Dakota would have handled the trespassing. SDCL 41-9-8 is plenty severe in my opinion. What about the deer? South Dakota is in the process of tying Boone and Crockett points into a fine structure, but we'll talk about that in a future column after I gather more information.
The sale of handguns and semiautomatic tactical rifles, often referred to as assault rifles, has gone beyond any of our wildest imaginations. In going through my latest gun magazine, I found ads for 27 different companies making handgun/tactical semi-autos. Obviously people who don't hunt or engage in recreational shooting are also buying these guns.
First time handgun buyers whose primary intent is home protection occasionally ask my advice. Up until this past week, I had two such handguns — a .357-magnum Ruger revolver and a .45 ACP Model 1911 semi-automatic. I had reasons for selling the autoloader.
Neuropathy has weakened my hands, and pulling back the slide to cock my 1911 had become
increasingly difficult. Semi-autos have safeties, magazine releases, and slide stops. Revolvers are pure simplicity. One can tell by looking at a revolver whether it's loaded and/or ready to fire. My advice? Get a double-action .357-mag revolver. It will shoot the much lighter .38 Special loads for practice, and it will double as a legal deer hunting weapon.
Last week, I told you where and how to catch Francis Case walleyes from the bank. Go when the lilacs are in full bloom. See you next week.