THE WEIRD AND OUTRAGEOUS OF HUNTING AND FISHING LAWS
Watching the sunrise while nature is waking up around you, smelling the morning air, and participating in an age old tradition is just not something a non-hunter can truly understand. I know that we all wish that we never had to give that up, and we could hunt at our own discretion. However, the rules put in place to restrict hunting are often there to preserve it for the long term. Dedicated hunters are active in conservation, not just because it's the right thing to do, but also because conserving wildlife populations means preserving hunting for ourselves and generations to come. Therefore, punishments exist for those who do not follow the rules of hunting.
We cannot simply go around shooting animals indiscriminately without consequence. We have to buy tags and limit ourselves each year so that everyone can enjoy the hunt and no one will ruin it for us all. That being said, the punishment for one North Carolina man who bagged a deer and a bobcat in Kentucky illegally might be a little harsh.
In 2011, Rodney Poteat failed to purchase the appropriate permits for his hunt, or report the kills. When caught, he plead guilty to a misdemeanor, resulting in a $5,350 charge and two years of probation, during which "the defendant shall be prohibited from hunting or accompanying anyone hunting anywhere in the world." Yes, a worldwide hunting ban for a misdemeanor.
Hunting bans are not necessarily uncommon. Yet, they usually stop at the state level or only carry over to other states if they are part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. However, worldwide bans like this one are beginning to emerge, and are calling into question state and even national sovereignty. The audacity of a judge to ban someone from hunting not just in the state or nation but around the world is absolutely outrageous. How does one judge have that much power?
Interestingly enough, our state and local governments have much more power over hunters and anglers than we could imagine. Often this ferments in the form of ‘weird’ laws and seemingly pointless restrictions that have no basis for conservation and don’t promote the activity. For us, Poteat’s story sparked an interest in these seemingly pointless restrictions on hunting that exist all over the U.S., so we looked around and found more than we had imagined.
Our search for weird hunting and fishing laws first brought us to the Lone Star State. Kind of an oddball, Texas hunting laws are all over the place. It is legal for the blind to hunt in Texas (with special laser equipment and a hunting partner of course) and to hunt out of a helicopter, yet it is illegal to shoot a buffalo out of a second story window! Opposite of Texas, Tennessee stipulates that it is illegal to hunt from “an aircraft, watercraft, or motor vehicle” unless, of course, you are confined to a wheelchair. That isn’t the only weird law in Tennessee, though, and if there any anglers out there you’ll surely be upset about this next unveiling: it is illegal to fish using a lasso!
Continuing with the fishing laws, we discovered that in Pennsylvania it is illegal to fish with your hands or dynamite (the dynamite is understandable), and you can only catch a fish by the fish's mouth. In Montana it is illegal for an unmarried woman to go fishing alone (talk about sexist…). And, in Nebraska it is illegal to go whale fishing. Where one could find whales in the lakes of Nebraska is beyond me.
Back to hunting, if you are an archer in New Hampshire then you must put your name and address on every arrow. In Minnesota it is specifically illegal to sell the gallbladder or paws of a bear, unless attached to the hide. Not any other parts, just the gallbladder and paws. In Los Angeles, California, it is illegal to hunt moths under a streetlamp. Because, well… come on guys, that’s just cheating! The funniest of all though is in Connecticut, where “it is illegal to hunt grey squirrel, rabbit, or other fur bearing creatures with dynamite, fire, smoke, brimstone, sulfur, gas or chemical.”
Let’s just take a moment to imagine the literal war that a person would have to be waging against squirrels that would cause legislators to think that this needed to be put into law…
These are by no means the only of these restrictions. The list goes on and on.
Are these laws just weird and funny restrictions, or outrageous oversteps of state and local power limiting the rights of sportsmen? Do they do more harm than good? Are there any of these types of laws where you live?