PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Bam! Judge empties legal gun on hunters

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Big thanks go out to U.S. Magistrate David Sanders in Greenville, U.S. Attorney John M. Dowdy in Jackson and Robert Olivari, resident agent for the U.S. Fisheries & Wildlife Service across four states.
Earlier this week, these gentlemen wrapped up extensive legal action against seven Oxford men, who apparently went wild more than once at nearby duck camps and killed so many birds that they just left many of them in the water to sink into lake-bottom compost.
I realize we’re just talking ducks. But I was married to a duck hunter, and I can tell you that the rules and decorum that go with that sport are not to be taken lightly.
This is hardly the sport of kings, yet it takes a real commitment of time and treasure, as well as physical sacrifice to be where you have to be to succeed with that daily bag limit of four ducks.
There are the guns, the dogs, the training, proper and warm hunting gear, building a blind, maybe a boat … you see where I’m going.
And, if you finally have all these ingredients and your hunting permit, you still must hope for the absolute dreariest, coldest dawning-day ever to bring those ducks farther south and onto that lake, into your gun sights.
All for that daily bag limit of four ducks.
I was fortunate to be the recipient of those ducks, and I learned how to make a mean Duck a l’Orange and fabulous duck gumbo.
When the hunter went this way and I went that way, he got the guns, the dog and the beer keg. And I got the kids.
So, I write about the duck hunters’ code from a second-hand perspective.
I also write from a legal perspective, as someone who closely observes and reflects activity within our federal court system in north Mississippi.
The courthouse guys were surprised that I got interested in this story, when these seven young men were hauled into the Oxford courtroom to face up to a dozen counts, each carrying up to six months in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Oh, last August, they all looked like frat boys in their khaki pants, Oxford-cloth shirts and fashionable sunglasses.
They exchanged pleasantries with each other and smiled across the courtroom at their lawyers, more appropriately dressed for the occasion.
They must have thought somebody was just going to say, “Now, boys will be boys. Go, and sin no more.”
But when it was all said and done this week, Magistrate Sanders – whom I understand is a duck hunter, too – lowered the boom on them.
They all got substantial monetary fines. They will not be hunting even barn rats during their supervised probations, some as long as two years.
And they won’t be going to anybody’s hunting camps, either.
Guys, it’s going to be a long couple of winters, but it seems you may have been out there at the duck camp for reasons other than the challenge of the hunt.
It’s a lesson for everybody else who thinks they will get away with something like this.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.