The guy behind the counter at your local sporting goods store wields power when it comes to hunting licenses and tags.
In one case, that power corrupted an Idaho man and put him at odds with the law.
Jerry Hall, Jr. of Pocatello, Idaho must have been pretty popular with his out-of-state family and friends. While he worked at Doc’s Gun Barn, he was renewing resident hunting licenses of his associates who had since moved out of state. Skirting the law in this way meant each poacher avoided paying an average of $500.
Idaho Fish and Game caught on to his antics after discovering Jerry, his father, and the rest of their poaching party concealing the killing of a spike elk without the right tag and also taking a cow elk shortly afterwards.
For his actions, Hall was fined $200, ordered to complete 200 hours of community service, comply with a two year probation and had his hunting privileges suspended for three years. Had he fought the charges instead of entering a guilty plea, he was facing a $1,000 fine, 60 days in jail, 200 community service hours, probation and the suspension of his hunting license.
As a hunting community, we have to draw a very bright line for the general public between hunters and poachers. Jerry Hall, Jr. and his gang had crossed that line in the store, then continued to flaunt it in the field as they disobeyed simple tag laws. They are as much hunter as a shoplifter is a customer. They may look similar, but their methods are completely and significantly different.
These are the same people who think like Nelson Muntz from ‘The Simpsons’, who once famously said, “Shoplifting is a victimless crime, like punching someone in the dark.”
All the non-resident hunters who actually paid their full license and tag costs just took a collective slap in the face. They did it the right way, and these poachers attempted to circumvent the system.
This is a big deal. When hunters shrug off crimes like this, it blurs the distinction between hunters and poachers.
I’m glad this guy has been given a time out. Hopefully he’ll come back over to our side and join those of us who obey game laws and financially support conservation efforts.