December 13, 2011
By Doug Howlett
The lists are long and ludicrous of laws that have been passed around the country over the ages and that by any sort of normal logic, don't seem to make sense. Over the years folks have been barred from carrying an ice cream cone in their back pocket under any circumstances, wrestling bears in Alabama, fishing from horseback or hunting whales in Utah. Crossing state lines with a duck atop your head in Minnesota might even get you in trouble and will certainly leave you wondering what in the heck was going on at the time that some legislator stood up and proposed such a law — and then the governing body approved it!
As is obvious, laws concerning animals and hunting have seemingly defied common sense as well, and no, not all of these dumb laws are antiquated. In fact, a number are still in force today. Here are eight of the dumbest game laws on the books.
No Trail Cameras During Hunting Season
Despite their popularity and practical utility, Montana
has long restricted
the use of trail cameras during hunting seasons, citing them as electronic aids, which are specifically banned in the state. Montana game officials have told the NRA that the law is in place to 'maintain ethical hunting practices, ' though I'm not sure exactly what is so unethical about taking pictures of game when you're not there to see what you missed out on. For trail cam fans, the practice adds a whole other channel of enjoyment and wonder to the sport. What if a whitetail hunter whose season hasn't started has cams out during antelope season? Is he breaking the law? Montana law enforcement personnel told NRA that every case was looked at individually. I'm not so sure that clears things up.
Hands Off the Piebald
Last year, a former Oklahoma state representative
killed a piebald deer on
his own property. He was so proud of taking the unique deer, he called the
local paper and posed for a picture with the animal to run in the publication. The only problem with this was it was illegal. Upon discovering this, the former rep turned himself in and ultimately paid a fine. It had never been his intent to break the law. He just didn't realize. As it turns out, to shoot such a deer in that state, a hunter has to get written permission from the state wildlife director. Weird. I've heard of other states forbidding the killing of albino deer, as if those animals possess some magical powers, like a hunter gunning down the only known proof of a unicorn. The fact is, these creatures are typically genetically deficient and a biological case can be made that they should even possibly be removed from the herd. In the end, it seems like most laws of this type are based on emotion or superstition rather than any real basis. A white deer doesn't deserve any special protections beyond those of other deer. To do so is simply elitist.
If only pheasants, quail and other game birds would insist on walking instead of flying when frightened, they would have nothing to fear from
hunters in Kansas
. The law there prohibits the shooting of any wild game bird unless that bird is in flight. I can envision the stand off that would take place if the birds realized this with a hunter standing there frustrated and a covey of quail just sitting tight and staring dumbly back at the sportsman mere feet away thinking, 'Nope, I'm not getting in the air. ' The one exception is a wild turkey, which can be shot on the ground or in flight, just not while sitting in a tree, such as when it is roosted. For a flushing turkey that heads for the limb, I'm not sure how the law would look at that scenario. Maybe if the longbeard makes it to the limb, it's sort of like base in hide-and-seek, he's safe as long as he has the nerve to stay there.
I must say, while Wisconsin boasts one of the richest sporting traditions in
the country, particularly when it comes to deer season, they also have to be among some of the safest hunters -- or at least the most visible. Stroll through ma Blain's Farm and Fleet (one of the greatest stores I've ever been in) in late October and you'll need sunglasses because of all the brightly fluorescent orange clothing on the racks. Roll down a country road a week or two later after the gun season comes in, and the woods will look like a literal pumpkin patch. Wisconsin hunters must wear clothing that makes their bodies at least 50 percent orange from the waist up
. That means a hat and vest of orange for sure, yet many hunters up the ante and go all in with the full orange jump suits and coats. It seems a little much to a Southerner,
many of whom still curse the fact that they even have to wear as much as an orange hat, but while so much Blaze can seem a bit overboard, I won't argue with the fact that it certainly makes a person easy to see.
No Mechanical Broadheads
In an apparent effort to out-do Montana, Oregon not only bans lighted nocks, but they also ban mechanical broadheads. With the popularity and proven effectiveness of modern expandables such as the Rage, you'd think that would all be changing, but the machinery of our legal system doesn't always respond as quickly to market and technological changes. Oregon isn't alone in this either. According to southeasternoutdoors.com
, Alaska, Idaho, South Dakota and Washington all place either a total ban or some level of
limitation on what game mechanicals can be used on. I certainly understand the reasoning behind the laws back when they were placed. Let's face it, some of the earlier mechanicals were just plain crap. But they've come a long way in reliability and proven performance, and it's time the law comes along with them.
No Tracking Dogs
No matter how good you are with a bow or gun, the situation will happen
sooner or later. A deer hunter will hit an animal, but the shot placement
wasn't precisely what was intended. Maybe the vitals didn't get hit like
they should and the deer, still fatally wounded, runs off, leaving little or
no blood. Time to bring in a tracking dog, some of which have near 100
percent success if the deer is indeed down. But in Pennsylvania
, not so fast. The use of tracking dogs is prohibited. Perhaps it's because they worry a guy will use a dog to actually run the deer before it
is shot, driving it toward a waiting hunter. Enforcement has to be the only concern here, as using a dog to guarantee a wounded game animal is retrieved not only seems like the most ethical thing to do here, it should be the legal thing to do as well.
No Lumenoks in Montana
Not trying to pick on Montana here. We absolutely love the state, but in
addition to trail cameras, they also prohibit the use of lighted nocks such
, which help a lot of bowhunters tell exactly how well they hit a game animal as the arrow strikes its target. They're also darn helpful to hunters who film their hunts as it makes the flight of the arrow more visible for the camera. It's hard to see how that could possibly be a bad thing, and it certainly doesn't seem to provide any advantage prior to the shot being released.
Blue Hunting Laws
Might as well start with the low hanging fruit here and go with the outdated limits some states still place on Sunday hunting. In fact, 11 states still restrict hunting on Sundays either completely or in part. Efforts are under way in Pennsylvania
and Virginia to do away with the restriction, and in states where the ban remains, many sportsmen hope it will change. To hunters in the majority of states where Sunday hunting is permitted, they wonder, 'What's the big deal? ' For many guys, Sunday may well be the only time to slip away for a little quiet time outdoors since the weekdays are filled with work and Saturdays more and more are filled with kids' baseball, soccer, hockey and any other manner of activities. For hunters who travel out of state for a weekend hunt, two days in the woods is always better than one and can make a short trip much more worthwhile. Of course, not everybody is on the bandwagon for scrapping blue hunting laws. Ole' church ladies fear the distraction will keep some hunters from attending church, while some landowners appreciate not having folks traipse across their land; neither concerns seem to bear out too many problems in states (39) where Sunday hunting is permitted.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.