Know the truth, know your rights

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 11/4/20

I have a letter from an ex-employee of the Missouri Department of Conservation that outlines the Telecheck system and how it is used in rather nefarious ways by agents. These systems are now fairly …

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Know the truth, know your rights

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I have a letter from an ex-employee of the Missouri Department of Conservation that outlines the Telecheck system and how it is used in rather nefarious ways by agents. These systems are now fairly uniform in several states of the Midwest, and with deer season ahead, every deer hunter needs to read this letter. It could save you a lot of money paying fines you should not have to pay. Newspapers cannot print this letter because the sender does not want his name used. Therefore I put it, as I received it, on a website where you CAN read it. That letter may be seen on your computer at larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com. You are going to be very surprised what the Telecheck system may do to you even when you are completely innocent. In many states bordering Missouri, it is much the same. The 4th amendment is the same in all states. Agents use the Telecheck system far beyond its original purpose. I have documented many, many instances of that and they are being printed in an upcoming book I have written, “The truth about the Missouri Department of Conservation!”

Shortly after that Telecheck letter was received, I contacted the newly appointed Enforcement Division Chief for that department, Randy Doman. We agree on very little, but we do agree that a high percentage of hunters have no idea what their rights are. If you do not, you are in danger of being given a citation over a technicality even if you are trying to obey the law. You need to know that you should NEVER let any agent come into your home, barn, shed or vehicle without a search warrant. They DO NOT have a legal right to do so unless you give them permission. I’ll tell you in a future column what happened to one innocent hunter by the name of Henshall in Northern Missouri; when he allowed a pair of nice friendly smiling agents with hats in hand to come into his home because they could never get a search warrant to do what they wanted to. His loss from their trick, was in the thousands of dollars, and every hunter and fisherman should read his story. Here is what Enforcement Chief Randy Doman sent me in an email. Read it, print it and keep it where you do not forget it, and where you can show it to an agent bent on making a victim of you…

“The 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure apply to conservation agents just the same as they do for state troopers, sheriff’s deputies, city police, etc. The Open Fields Doctrine provides that open fields do not carry the same expectation of privacy as an occupied dwelling or curtilage. Pending exigent circumstances, conservation agents may not search a closed barn or shed without consent or a warrant. Conservation agents may not force their way into a home without a search warrant or consent based on seeing a mounted deer head on the wall.

Regarding the enforcement of baiting laws, citations are warranted when hunters are found physically within or immediately adjacent to baited areas. When hunters are found outside of sight of the baited area or out of range for killing an animal standing in the baited area, no ticket should be issued unless other evidence is present to indicate the hunter knew or reasonably should have known the area was baited and is hunting there because of the bait; or is the person who placed the bait for other hunters; or there is a preponderance of evidence clearly indicating the hunters are in a particular location because the placement of the bait is attracting deer or turkeys to that location. If the evidence for baiting violations is not clear-cut, agents are instructed to consult with supervisors for guidance in enforcement actions. Conservation agents may instruct hunters in the immediate surrounding area of the bait that further hunting in that area is prohibited until ten (10) days following complete removal of the bait.

Agents are instructed not close entire farms or large areas of land simply because bait was found at a particular location. Likewise, adjoining property owners should not be considered in violation unless they were aware of the bait and were using it as an attraction to deer or turkeys for hunting.

Conservation agents must abide by the same 4th Amendment protections as any other law enforcement officer. Conservation agents often follow up on deer and turkey Telechecks as their schedules allow. With the discontinuation of wildlife check-in stations in 2005, these Telecheck investigations have become an expectation and a valuable tool for conservation agents; not only to increase compliance with the Wildlife Code, but to ensure the integrity of the self-reported harvest data. When hunters raised concerns about increased poaching if check-in stations were discontinued, the Department assured them that conservation agents would conduct spot checks of the Telecheck system to provide reasonable assurances that the self-reporting system was being used properly.

While the majority of these Telecheck contacts are positive and most hunters are following the regulations, conservation agents also discover occasional violations including but not limited to; taking over-limits of deer and turkey, taking deer or turkey over bait, fraudulently obtaining/using permits, and taking deer and turkeys in closed season.” — Randy Doman.

Readers may contact me via email at lightninridge47@gmail.com or write to me at Dablemont, Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or if you want you may call me when I am in my office, 417 777 5227

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