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Judge throws out Mo. hunting regulation

August 13, 2010 at 01:45 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A southeast Missouri judge has ruled that state regulations prohibiting the use of dogs and vehicles in deer hunting are so vague that they are unconstitutional.

Missouri Department of Conservation spokesman Joe Jerek said Friday that department lawyers are still deciding whether to appeal the ruling handed down earlier this month by Ripley County Circuit Judge Robert Smith.

Ripley County hunters Neil Turner and Bobby “Shannon” Jones sued in February over the regulations, which prohibit such things as hunters driving through the woods or using dogs to scare deer out into the open, or shooting deer from a car. Violations are class A misdemeanors.

The regulations “are vague, overly broad, indefinite and fail to establish sufficient standards so that people of ordinary intelligence must necessarily guess at their meaning,” Smith wrote in the Aug. 5 ruling.

“In our area, hunting is not only for recreation but it is a part of our way of life and any infringement of this right must be constitutional,” Smith wrote.

At issue are Conservation Department regulations that prohibit the use of a “motor-driven air, land or water conveyances” while deer hunting. The department also has a regulation stating that deer may not be “hunted, pursued, taken or killed with the aid of dogs, in use or possession.”

“Big picture, these regulations are in place to help ensure ethical hunting and fair chase, and also, based on our scientific management, to help protect and sustain wildlife species,” Jerek said.

But Daniel Moore, an attorney for Turner and Jones, said the wording confuses both hunters and the conservation agents charged with enforcing the regulations.

“It left it up to the agent’s interpretation, and you can’t have a law applied based upon the feelings of a law officer,” Moore said. “Where it says you can’t pursue deer with the aid of a vehicle, who the hell knows what that mea ns?”

Turner was arrested and faces federal charges after a 2008 undercover investigation into illegal hunting activities, known as “Operation Pulling Wool.” Moore said negotiations continue with federal prosecutors and he is hopeful the case will be settled before it goes to trial.

“We’re not against hunting regulations, but it’s just fair if you don’t know whether you’re in violation or not,” Moore said.

Jerek said the acts prohibited by the regulations are also covered by other laws and regulations, and “are still considered impermissible” despite the judge’s ruling.

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“In our area, hunting is not only for recreation but it is a part of our way of life and any infringement of this right must be constitutional,” Smith wrote.

A very down to earth statement. Judge Smith gets my vote.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/14 at 08:42 AM

I think a big part of hunting is knowing the rules before you go out and if not finding someone who does know.  I don’t no about the rest of you that read the article but the regulations seemed pretty clear to me. You can’t hunt deer from anything with a motor attached to it and cannot use dogs.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/14 at 08:24 PM

Bowfisher1 I think being able to interpret the rules for yourself without having to search for an interpretation from the MDC, which may be different than the CO, you are dealing with is what the judge ruled. There are gray areas and could be that way intentionally, questions are asked here about IL. regs.Since just from reading the article the regs are clear to you would it be all right if on private property with permission I drove an atv to a spot shut it off scoped a deer and shot it while sitting on the atv? Or threw camo over the atv and shot a deer using the atv for a rifle rest? I don’t know anything about these guys could be bozos for all I know but that is not what the judge was dealing with. I will add that on my property or private with permission, if I want to take my dog, regardless of breed, out to say a ground blind it should not be illegal, might not be smart but as long as me and Fido are enjoying are self’s whose business is it. It’s call constitutional rights.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/15 at 11:26 AM

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