Man’s Best Friend Unwelcome

Note: This is the second in a five-part series discussing tactics that land hunters and anglers in jail. 

 

Up until now, it has been one of those rare afternoons when everything seemed to work.

Your Eastern Pennsylvania tree stand overlooks a “funnel” of some known deer trails that connect wooded cover with an agricultural field. Some nice bucks have been seen dining there, but right now there’s a flock of Canada geese pecking through the stubble.

Sunlight fades, and you think about heading home. But then a decent buck appears about 20 yards from your stand; your heart thumps so hard, you can hear it. You unleash an arrow from your compound bow, and there’s a loud thwack. The buck kicks like a mule then runs for cover.

You spot the arrow’s fletching just beyond where the deer stood; it’s streaked with sticky red blood. As darkness falls, you grab a flashlight and the toilet paper you brought for, well, its original purpose. But now you’ll be tearing bits of it off the roll to mark drops of blood. The problem is, you only see a speck here, one there…. Minutes slip away; now it’s an hour past sundown. You’re hungry, tired, and worried coyotes will find your buck first.

You wish you had a trained dog with a keen nose to find your deer. These blood trackers are legal in Texas and other states, but not Pennsylvania.

“But that’s not for lack of trying,” said Justin McShane, an Independent Program Attorney with U.S. Law Shield. “Our state is home to some very experienced trackers who have Wirehaired Dachshunds, Labradors, or other nosey hounds trained to track deer blood.”

The trackers, with support from hunters eager for their help, have appealed to the General Assembly, hoping to change the Pennsylvania law that bans “dogs pursuing, injuring or killing game.” This law is set out in the state’s Game and Wildlife Code, Title 34, Chapter 23 (hunting and fur taking), Subchapter E (dogs pursuing game or wildlife).

“The only exception to hunting big game with dogs is while hunting fall turkeys,” McShane said. But, if a warden has proof that a dog is chasing and killing deer, it can be considered a “nuisance” and the officer is authorized to shoot it. Dogs are also permitted to hunt furbearers, such as coyotes, raccoons, bobcats and beavers.

“This law has gotten considerable press in Pennsylvania and the U.S., particularly in national hunting magazines,” according to McShane. “One article speculated that the law was created years ago to ensure dogs were not used to run down game for illegal market hunters.”

But, the trackers and their dogs don’t chase deer—a hunting tradition still legal although controversial in some southern states. Instead, they work to ensure the recovery of legally harvested game from thick cover.

“There have been efforts to get the law changed,” McShane said. “But that hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, trackers in Pennsylvania have recovered a lot of deer, but these guys don’t dare offer their services close to home. When deer seasons are underway, our trackers travel to nearby states where their skills are welcome.”

McShane said violating the law is a “summary of the third degree,” which carries a fine of not less than $250, nor more than $500. McShane noted, however, that any conviction for a second offense draws a fine double the amount for the first one.

And fees and fines don’t stop there. A violator could be ordered to pay costs of prosecution and restitution. In other words, they might have to reimburse the Commonwealth for prosecuting the case as well as the value of the deer they took. So add a few hundred more dollars to the bill.

Of course, the best way to avoid all that is to simply obey the law. So, leave your dog in camp or at home, even if it’s your prized bird dog that can’t stand staying put as you pull out of the driveway.

“A dog in the deer woods during hunting season is not legal,” McShane said. “So, if a warden notices ‘man’s best friend’ with you in the field, you can expect to be investigated on suspicion of using a dog to chase deer.”

But as long as the law remains on the books, the citizenry has the right through elected representatives to pursue changes that favor game-recovery dogs. For more on those efforts, follow Deer Recovery Pennsylvania at deerrecoverypa.org.

And remember, you don’t have to navigate complex fish and game laws on your own. A U.S. Law Shield membership with the Hunter Shield add-on keeps you protected at home and on the hunt, and includes legal education.

Get educated on the law, so the law doesn’t come looking for you.

Stay tuned for part III of our Sportsman Series, “5 Tactics That Land Hunters & Anglers in Jail.” — Bill Miller, contributor U.S. Law Shield

 

 

 

Georgia Hunter Shield: New Coverage Not Available Anywhere Else

Hunting and fishing violations could cost you your rights to hunt or fish. Do you know the laws? When law-abiding citizens are uncertain of the thousands of game and fish laws, mistakes are made, and the consequences can be costly. Click to see how we can protect your pocketbook and your freedom with Hunter Shield, a unique and affordable product available exclusively to members of U.S. Law Shield.

 

 

Special Report: 5 Things You Need to Know about Conservation Rangers

 

 

Just like kings and queens of old, Georgia claims all the deer in the forest and fish in the streams as its own. If you want to hunt, trap, or fish in the state, you have to do so by following the state’s rules—and conservation rangers are there to enforce those rules. It’s important that all sportsmen know what these men and women can do. Want to know more? Click to download the free Special Report, “5 Things You Need to Know about Conservation Rangers,” to learn about the vast powers Georgia Conservation Rangers wield and how you can avoid getting snared in a legal misunderstanding.

 

 

Oklahoma Hunter Shield: Know Your Rights as a Hunter or Angler

 

Sportsmen, it is imperative to stay informed on the laws and your rights as a hunter or angler. With Hunter Shield, you get both!

Let us share what we know. Learn the law from attorneys well-versed in wildlife laws, and gain access to up-to-date information you need to stay legal in the woods and on the water. Add to your U.S. Law Shield Membership today! Click here or on the graphic below to learn more.

 

 

National Legal Update: Hearing Protection Act Rolling Into Bigger Bill

The Hearing Protection Act has been attached to the SHARE Act, a sportsman’s omnibus bill with a lot of pro-gun features. Among those features, the SHARE Act (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act) would do the following:

  1. Moves silencers/suppressors from Title II to Title I status.
  2. Enhances the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) language to include travel by means other than vehicles.
  3. Creates remedies against states that violate the safe travel provisions, including a cause of action and attorneys fees.
  4. Eliminates the sporting-purposes language from the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the law on armor-piercing ammunition.
  5. Creates a blanket exception for shotguns to prevent arbitrary reclassification as destructive devices.

“The Hearing Protection Act has been one of the most important bills for sportsmen and women this Congress, which is why it’s common sense for it to be included in this year’s sportsman’s legislative package,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) Duncan, the bill’s sponsor, told POLITICO. “By changing the outdated regulation of suppressors to an instant background check, just like the requirements to purchase a typical firearm, I hope the sportsmen and women in the United States will have greater access to noise reduction technology as they carry the hunting and recreational shooting tradition to future generations.”

“If this bill passes,” said Texas & U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington, “it will make suppressors Title I items like firearms—that is, not National Firearms Act devices—which means they will become more common and more widely transported. However, at least 10 states will likely ban suppressors even if this becomes law. About the same number of states have some kind of restriction on ammunition-feeding devices, also known as magazines. FOPA safe travel won’t do us much good if gun owners can still be arrested for magazines and accessories.”

“Attaching the HPA to a bill that should be easier to pass suggests that Congressional Republicans may have become serious about actually passing this,” she said. “Passing this bill would be a big win.” —Texas & U.S. Law Shield Staff

Colorado Hunter Shield: Know Your Rights as a Hunter or Angler

Sportsmen, it is imperative to stay informed on the laws and your rights as a hunter or angler. With Hunter Shield, you get both!

Let us share what we know. Learn the law from attorneys well-versed in wildlife laws, and gain access to up-to-date information you need to stay legal in the woods and on the water. Add to your U.S. Law Shield Membership today! Click here or on the graphic below to learn more.

 

Back To School: College Campus Safety And The Law in Colorado

This fall, many parents will be sending their sons and daughters off to college, and parents will want ensure their children are prepared, not just for campus life, but also for things that may happen. To get them ready, local law-enforcement officers will be offering specialized seminars on how to develop Situational Awareness, so students can be truly aware of their surroundings. Then, U.S. Law Shield of Colorado lawyers explain the confusing laws and recent court decisions regarding campus carry and when the use of force and deadly force may be legally justified. Arm yourself and your loved ones with knowledge. Click Gun Law Seminar to get more information; look for the description, “Back to School Campus Safety and The Law,” and register today.

 

Ruger Recalls Nearly All Mark IV Pistols

Ruger has issued a wide recall of all Mark IV and 22/45 models because of a problem with the safety and sear and has told owners that the pistols should not be used.

The company says on its website that any Mark IV pistol produced before June 1, 2017 has “the potential to discharge unintentionally if the safety is not utilized correctly” and are being recalled for a retrofit including a new safety and sear.

The issue is: In some cases, if the trigger is pulled while the safety lever is midway between the “safe” and “fire” positions and not full engaged in either, the pistol may or may not fire when the trigger is pulled.

If the gun doesn’t fire when the trigger is pulled, it may fire if the user then pushes the safety to the “fire” position without the trigger being activated.

Here’s a statement from a Ruger press release on the company’s website: 

“Although only a small percentage of pistols appear to be affected and we are not aware of any injuries, Ruger is firmly committed to safety and would like to retrofit all potentially affected pistols with an updated safety mechanism. Until your Mark IV pistol has been retrofitted or you verify that it is not subject to the recall, we strongly recommend that you not use your pistol.”

Ruger says they have received a “small number” of reports from the field indicating the problem exists. Additional testing confirmed the issue and the recall was issued.

While the company has not given a time-frame for the retrofitting, they have made the recall fairly easy for Mark IV owners to navigate.

They may simply go to the Ruger website and enter the serial number of their pistol to determine if it is included in the recall. If it is, the site will prompt you to enter your name and address. When Ruger is ready to fix your gun, the company will send out an empty box with the appropriate return label.

Since the problem exists in parts contained in the grip frame assembly, that’s all that has to be sent to Ruger for repairs. That part is not serialized, meaning it can be shipped via regular methods like UPS without going through an FFL.

However, you don’t need the website to know if your gun is safe or not.

If the serial number begins with “401” or “WBR,” the gun has been recalled. If the serial number begins with “500” it has not.

Any Mark IV or 22/45 pistol that has already been retrofitted will display a letter “S” in the white dot that is visible when the safety is engaged.

The company urges Mark IV owners NOT to send their frames in for retrofitting until they receive a return box.

Though Ruger can’t say when it will begin shipping the return boxes, they have promised to “return your grip frame assembly within one week of receiving it.”

The website also says that Ruger will return repaired grip frame assemblies to owners with a free magazine as a “thank you for your participation.” Customers in states with magazine restrictions will receive a ShopRuger gift certificate in lieu of a magazine.

The .22 LR pistol was introduced in 2016 as a successor to the company’s first pistol, the Ruger Standard Model, first made in the 1950s and the Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III models followed.

The Mark IV represents the most drastic of design changes from the previous pistols in the series, with reworked internals allowing for a vastly simplified disassembly process, solving a major gripe about previous models. The Mark IV has been offered in hunter, target, and competition versions and as three models in the company’s 22/45 configuration as well.

Quick Thinking, Fast Shooting Prevented Massacre in Alexandria

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son.

Three Capitol Police officers’ quick thinking and fast shooting saved members of Congress from a gunman early Wednesday morning at their baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was wounded in the attack and listed in critical condition a day later at the hospital.

One of the officers, Special Agent Crystal Griner, was wounded in the ankle, said Chief Matthew R. Verdosa.

But Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) told WWJ Radio in Detroit that the heroic response foiled a massacre.

“The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover,” Bishop said.

Scalise, along with various Republican colleagues, are members of a baseball team that was practicing Wednesday morning at a park on East Monroe Avenue for an upcoming charity game.

Bishop said they all were “sitting ducks” when a gunman approached and sprayed the field with rifle fire.

“We were inside the backstop,” he added, “and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit—every single one of us.”

Special Agents David Bailey and Henry Cabrera also returned fire, Chief Verdosa said. Alexandria police officers joined the fray, according to a joint press release from police and the FBI.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son. He said that he was “very grateful” for the officers’ protection.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

“They attacked the shooter (and) that’s what saved our lives,” Barton said.

“The thin blue line held today,” said an emotional U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the team’s coach, at a news conference. “My family and I will be forever grateful.”

Williams, a standout ballplayer at TCU during the 1960s, is the coach of the GOP’s ball team. He came to the press conference on crutches.

The gunman, James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, was mortally wounded and died at the hospital. He reportedly made far left-wing rants on social media before the shooting.

Post-shooting media coverage swirled with commentary about how political rancor from last year’s presidential election may have fueled the rampage.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), also a member of the ball team and a survivor of the shooting, called for civility.

“The over-the-top, hateful rhetoric that has consumed politics, on both sides, has to stop,” Davis said. “We can have thoughtful debate on the issues, and at times disagree, but we cannot forget that we are all represented by the same flag and the freedom it represents.’’

“Thank God for the Capitol Hill police,” said Matt Kilgo, a program lawyer for U.S. Law Shield of Georgia.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the GOP team's coach.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the GOP team’s coach.

“You could tell there was going to be some backlash,” Kilgo said in a Facebook interview with Sam Malone of U.S. Law Shield LIVE. “(But) anything that puts firearms and our Second Amendment rights in proper perspective in the media I think is a good thing.”

“I’m glad it went the way it did and they were able to save as many lives as they did.”

Click here to see the discussion between Kilgo and Malone.

—By Bill Miller, U.S. Law Shield contributor