Jake's Outdoors » Blog Archive » A Truly Honest Mistake; Big Punishment?

A Truly Honest Mistake; Big Punishment?

May 19th, 2008

Spring bear season is in across much of the US.  But one problem that could certainly come up has become a reality for a Billings, MT man.  He mistook a small male grizzly bear for a large black bear.  With the many different color phases of the black bear, I can certainly see how this mistake could be made honestly.  I have no experience hunting bears (though I hope to remedy that some day), but it seems that this would be a pretty significant problem anywhere the two species overlapped.

According to the article linked above, the consequence for this man’s mistake is that he may lose his hunting privileges for up to three years.  It seems like there really should be some consistency to the application of game laws.  Recently, I wrote of a teen who shot a bear here in WV out of season with his bow and arrow.  He got a warning.  This man made a mistake, and confessed to what he had done.  He notified the DNR  of what he had done.  He could have kept it quiet, cut the bear up, disposed of the hide, and been none the worse off.  But he actually did the right thing, and came forward to tell what he had done.

It seems to me that these two cases have the punishments backwards!  When there is a blatant violation of the game laws, there should be a harsh punishment imposed.  But, when there is an accidental violation, there should be at least some leniency.  There should also be some consideration given for the violator who is willing to fess up to his actions, and try to set it right.

I hope this Billings man is shown a little leniency, and that he won’t have to sacrifice his hunting privileges for so long.  Not too many people would do what he did!

7 Responses to “A Truly Honest Mistake; Big Punishment?”

  1. I totally agree. It seems to be an honest mistake especially seeing that he contacted the DNR.

  2. I agree too, to a degree – if you are hunting you need to know your game and pass a shot if you aren’t 100% positive.

    We encounter waterfowl that you have to ID as they are flying by – we study flight patterns, coloring, marking and etc… because if you shoot the wrong duck there are fines to pay and privileges to be lost. At times we’ve passed on taking a shot because we couldn’t positively identify the species. A hunter has to take responsibility for their actions and has to educate themselves.

    This man did admit his mistake to the DNR so I hope he doesn’t loose his hunting privileges, it would be nice for the DNR to award his honesty with leniency if this is the first time this man has had a situation like this.

  3. It does seem like those punishments are reversed. I do agree with what Blessed said, hunters do have a responsibility to identify their target and make sure it is legal but, that said, mistakes do happen. This guy confessed to his and was honest. That should count for something.

  4. That is an excellent point, Blessed. I certainly don’t want to leave the impression that we don’t need to work hard at following all of the game laws, and we need to know what we are hunting. You bring up another game species that can cause some issues. I agree that if there is any question, you should not take the shot. Thanks for adding that to the discussion!

  5. I know that we all need to follow the laws set for by the government, however, this does sound like an honest mistake. Not to mention that the poor man confessed his mistake. Give the man a break!

  6. I just got back from a black bear hunt in Idaho – and there are no grizzlies where we hunt – but I was thinking as my brother shot a brown color phase bear that they do look an awful lot like a grizzly in color. Granted the size is certainly different and they’re shaped a little differently (hump vs. no hump, length of snout, etc) – but still, the differences are small enough that I could see how it could be an honest mistake. These punishments definitely should be reversed.

  7. I hope they go easy on him to be honest. It was an honest mistake, and one he fessed up too. Like you said Kris, he could have just cut it up and moved on, but he didn’t. And while I think that a hunter does need to know his target, mistakes can happen and he was honest enough to fess up to it. That in itself should allow for some leniency.

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