Refreshing Read: My State Legislator “Gets It!”

A couple of times each week my Legislator in the Minnesota House of Representatives sends out an emailed newsletter.   I’ll be honest, I read almost every one of them…but often I stop a paragraph or two into the usual diatribe being offered.   It’s not that I disagree with his rantings, moreover, it’s more a situation of how many politic-related matters these days just bore me to death.

But when I read his most recent update mailed today it struck a chord with me.   In fact, even though you many not care about Minnesota game and fish matters this situation could hold true for any state.   All it takes is one “over-zealous” conservation officer to ruin your day.   As a sportsman, you have certain ethics of fair chase, statutory laws and administrative rules to govern your behavior in the field.   Well, guess what…game wardens, or conservation officers as they prefer to be called here in Minnesota, have enforcement rules they must play by, too!

Without further ado, take a read of my Legislator, Rep. Steve Drazkowski’s (21B) update to his constituents:

Hello from St. Paul,

 

 When it comes to enforcement of game and fish regulations, many people I hear from usually have a bone to pick with the Department of Natural Resources – probably because the result of their encounter ended with a ticket.

 

 But other times I’m presented with information that suggests the DNR has overstepped its authority and needs to be reminded that the agency is in place to serve the people, not vice versa.

 

As a hunter, I can understand how many Minnesotans put their lives on hold for one weekend or week each fall so they can participate in a sport that they love. For some families or groups of friends, it’s the one time each year where everyone travels to a specific location and gets together for a few days of camaraderie and the hope of spotting an elusive white-tail.

 

That’s why I was disappointed to learn that some of my constituents from Wabasha and Winona counties basically had their hunt ruined by some over-zealous game wardens.

 

While out on their annual hunt last November, a DNR airplane flew overhead monitoring their every move, for well over an hour. That alone is not illegal; but according to the hunters, what was troubling was the low level of height at which the airplane was repeatedly flying.

 

Federal law requires normal hunter airplane surveillance to be conducted above 500 feet. Typically, the DNR tells us that their pilots’ normal altitude during these hunter surveillance flights is between 800 to 1,000 feet. Yet in this instance, the hunters tell me the plane was hovering between 100 to 300 feet over their heads, saying it was so loud they couldn’t hear each other speak.

 

The problem is if an airplane is flying that low and making that much noise, the deer are going to get spooked and leave the area, which is exactly what happened. Eventually these hunters gave up their position and left because the deer had been scared away. Their yearly weekend of fun had ended early through no fault of their own.

 

Keep in mind; these hunters were doing nothing wrong. The wardens eventually checked every one of them. They had licenses. They were not illegally baiting deer. They were not driving around with loaded shotguns. They were not doing anything illegal, just simply and legally participating in a sport that they enjoy and minding their own business.

 

I fully understand that the DNR needs to enforce hunting laws. There is nothing wrong with officers walking up to hunters and asking them for their registration. But hovering an aircraft at 200 feet and scaring the hunting party and every animal in sight in order to spy on hunters makes absolutely no sense.

 

After hearing from these constituents, I crafted and amended a bill stating that DNR aircraft could not fly below 500 feet for normal hunter surveillance, unless game wardens had probable cause of wrongdoing. Failure to stick to this threshold would cost the pilot $1,000.

 

The bill was heard in our House environment policy committee and was received favorably by the chair of the group. During the hearing, the DNR testified that this incident was a rare exception to the rule.

 

That may be, but its small consolation to those hunters who had their hunting experience ruined. I’m left to wonder how many other area hunters have suffered a similar fate but just didn’t bother to report the problem.

 

The DNR has a job to do and I respect that, and the vast majority of our conservation officers do their job very well. But the overwhelming majority of deer hunters are also playing by the rules, so it seems pointless to harass them and potentially ruin their experience simply because watching them from the sky is easier than approaching them on foot.

 

Have a good weekend,

 

SteveWeekly Legislative Update Email

Now, please understand I’m not some anti-enforcement advocate with a chip on my shoulder when it comes to game wardens.   Quite the contrary.   However, I have worked in the criminal justice field (particularly criminal defense) and I can tell you how those folks entrusted to uphold the law need checks and balances on their powers just as much as the typical citizens needs clearly defined laws to guide their proper behavior.

I’ve seen first-hand how law officers will push the limits of their powers.   I’ve seen how sloppy job performance can be corrected by creative report writing.   Indeed, the very people who are badge wearing professionals entrusted to use proper procedure will at times take shortcuts or other inappropriate measures.   Oh, I’m sure the actions are sometimes justified in their minds because they are up against all odds when it comes to performance of their sworn duties.

All of that being said, Steve’s got it right when here in Minnesota for many families deer hunting comes down to just one weekend spent in the woods each year.   How can you maximize that recreational satisfaction when big government goes to such extremes to keep an eye on you in the manner he claims?

During the 35+ years I have been hunting, fishing, trapping, etc. I have seen the number of rules I must follow explode into a fairly large synopsis nowadays too large to even fit into one’s pocket.   It seems only fair and reasonable that if common sense doesn’t dictate the appropriate actions of law officers than we must write more rules that govern their behavior, as well.

The way I view it…it’s not about making a tough job even tougher by setting enforcement limits.   Instead, it’s giving those who wear the badge an opportunity to lead by example following their own rules first and foremost.   Kudos Rep. Drazkowski on a job well done and for the courage to make this change of policy!

A Phishing Scam Using A Fishing Scam?

So, I get this email today and it sounds rather intriguing…


Hi,

We have an offer of US$ 3.25 per dozen for the following 148 dozen Flies.
Total US$ 481.00. The flies are tied using high Quality hooks from
Japan and Norway.

We shall ship the flies through aramex couriers and the cost is
US$38.00 But we offer Free shipping on this Flies. Hence you will only
pay US$481.00 and receive the flies with 3 – 5 days.

More patterns can be viewed at www.fliesperdozen.com
Madam X: # 10 – 2dozen

Red Tag: # 12 – 2 dozen
Red Tag: # 14 – 2 dozen
Red Tag: # 16 – 2 dozen

Wickham’s Fancy # 12 – 2 dozen
Wickham’s Fancy # 14 – 2 dozen
Wickham’s Fancy # 16 – 2 dozen

Little Olive: #12 – 2dozen
Little Olive: #14 – 2dozen
Little Olive: #16 – 2dozen

Blue Wing Olive: #12 – 2dozen
Blue Wing Olive: #14 – 2dozen
Blue Wing Olive: #16 – 2dozen

Humpy: #12 – 2dozen
Humpy: #16 – 2dozen
Humpy: #18 – 2dozen

March Brown: #12 – 2dozen
March Brown: #14 – 2dozen
March Brown: #16 – 2dozen
Red Quill: #12 – 2dozen
Red Quill: #14 – 2dozen
Red Quill : #16 – 2dozen

Pale Evening Dun : #12 – 2dozen
Pale Evening Dun: #14 – 2dozen
Pale Evening Dun : #16 – 2dozen

Brown Bomber : #12 – 2dozen
Brown Bomber : #14 – 2dozen
Brown Bomber : #16 – 2dozen

Daves Woolly Worm : #12 – 2dozen
Daves Woolly Worm : #14 – 2dozen
Daves Woolly Worm : #16 – 2dozen

Zulu : #12 – 2dozen
Zulu : #14 – 2dozen
Zulu : #16 – 2dozen

Adams Dry : #12 – 2dozen
Adams Dry : #14 – 2dozen
Adams Dry : #16 – 2dozen

Adams Male : #12 – 2dozen
Adams Male : #14 – 2dozen
Adams Male : #16 – 2dozen

Beatis Zinger : #14 – 2dozen
Beatis Zinger : #16 – 2dozen
Beatis Zinger : #18 – 2dozen

Black Quill : #12 – 2dozen
Black Quill : #14 – 2dozen
Black Quill : #16 – 2dozen

Blue Wing Olive Parachute : #12 – 2dozen
Blue Wing Olive Parachute : #14 – 2dozen
Blue Wing Olive Parachute : #16 – 2dozen
Blue Wing Olive Parachute : #18 – 2dozen

Brown Wulff : #12 – 2dozen
Brown Wulff : #14 – 2dozen
Brown Wulff : #16 – 2dozen

Bulktail Caddis Yellow : #12 – 2dozen
Bulktail Caddis Yellow : #14 – 2dozen
Bulktail Caddis Yellow : #16 – 2dozen

Parachute Adams : #12 – 2dozen
Parachute Adams : #14 – 2dozen
Parachute Adams : #16 – 2dozen

Olive Emerger : #14 – 2dozen
Olive Emerger : #16 – 2dozen
Olive Emerger : #18 – 2dozen

Montana Nymph Green: #8 – 2dozen
Montana Nymph Green: #10 – 2dozen
Montana Nymph Green: #12 – 2dozen

Montana Nymph Orange: #8 – 2dozen
Montana Nymph Orange: #10 – 2dozen
Montana Nymph Orange: #12 – 2dozen

Montana Nymph Yellow: #8 – 2dozen
Montana Nymph Yellow: #10 – 2dozen
Montana Nymph Yellow: #12 – 2dozen

Tellico Nymph: #12 – 2dozen
Tellico Nymph: #14 – 2dozen
Tellico Nymph: #16 – 2dozen

To confirm order, Please send us your physical address and phone
number for shipping purposes and further remit payments through:

www.worldremit.com – Send to: 254 721 206 825

Wire transfer Details:
Account Name: Pepaka Agencies
Bank Name: Co-Operative Bank of Kenya
Account Number: 01148530202600
Branch Name: Kimathi Street, Nairobi
Swift Code: KCOOKENA
Country: KENYA

Western Union or moneygram send to:

Perminus Karanja
P.o Box 19945 00100
Nairobi Kenya
Phone: 254 721 206 825

You will have to send me the MTCN, Question and Answer.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,
Perminus
www.fliesperdozen.comEmail received from Pepaka Agencies

WOW!   Almost $500 worth of popular flies used for flyfishing for a mere $38.   What could possibly be wrong with this exciting offer?

Wait…hold on just a minute!   Upon doing a little sleuthing I come to discover how this offer has been going on for years with other bloggers even talking about it.   But wait…it even gets better.   Before you send your hard-earned monies off to Nairobi and fall victim to such an obviously blatant fraud, check out their website.   NO!   Maybe don’t do that unless your computer virus protection is up to snuff.   Suffice it to say THE WEBSITE where I was directed to look at the flies has closed because the site owner has not paid their bills.

That’s right…even the one sales feature to showcase their product offering is ripe with red flags.   I must say over the years I have received many, many offers via email that were complete and utterly bogus.   This one falls right into that category.   Still, I give the scammers credit for phishing by using a fishing angle to their approach.

My suggestion…just in case it isn’t blatantly obvious AVOID THIS SCAM like the plague, in my honest opinion.

The Slippery Slope Outdoors Writers With Integrity Must Avoid

A lot has changed over the past three decades in journalism.   And while change is often inevitable to the process—especially in an age of social media and digital publishing of all types—that doesn’t mean many of the core principles inherent to maintaining good communication standards needs to also be sacrificed.

So, yesterday I was involved in a lively discussion with a Public Relations person who was trying to educate me on the process of how things currently work.   The crux of their message was if you want to experience increased opportunity and access playing the role of a media person it requires said media person to get “cozy” with the industry you are trying to cover as a journalist.

Really!!??

Since when did it become an acceptable practice for journalists of any type to have such close ties to the industry they strive to professionally cover without being tainted by conflicting interests?   In fact, it used to be if a writer had any prior connection whatsoever with the subject matter of the story it needed to be open and notorious with the extent of the relationship fully disclosed to the readers.

Apparently that type of thinking has become old school.   Yet, I strongly disagree with this apparent trend.

A couple years back I was involved in discussions with an outdoor news outlet who wanted me to become a staff writer for them.   We were all excited about the possibilities the new relationship held until we suddenly encountered an unforeseen snag.

PressI was told as a writer from time to time I would be expected to do product evaluations.   The editor would choose the product and I could write about some new outdoor gadget and brag it up.   I asked…well, what if I don’t find value in the product to write a good review?   I was specifically instructed how that was not an option as I had to speak positive of the product because they also would be one of the publication’s advertisers.

At that point the mood of the conversation suddenly changed.   I said no…this won’t work.   I cannot in good conscience write about any product or topic that I do not personally believe in.   I will not lie to myself or to my readers.   When I sign my name to an article or a blog post it has to be genuine and completely true in all details to the best of my ability.   That’s how I was taught and I won’t sell my soul to the devil just to make some quick cash.

And so it apparently is with outdoors writing in this 21st Century communication world.   There seems to be an affinity towards such a “cozy” relationship with some manufacturers that eventually the writer simply becomes a pro-staffer, and that’s perfectly fine as long as its disclosed and all appearances of true journalistic standards are set aside by said disclosure.

My point is if you want to call yourself an outdoors writer in the truest journalistic sense then you must strive to only have your reader’s best interests in mind.   When you start getting “cozy” with manufacturers and others in your story then the writer runs the risk of sliding down a dangerous literary slope.

When I do a product test and evaluation the manufacturer knows it will be honest.   When I want to connect with industry folks it will not be with special conditions and prior approvals.   Nope, for anyone to even hint at the notion I better start getting “cozy” with the product sellers of my industry in order to succeed as a writer, in my opinion, has very devilish intents.

©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.