November 29, 2001

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Deer season is over for now, but I can't resist putting it into editorial one last time. Well this doesn't have to much to do with actual deer hunting, but I already had a What If done for this week so I'll use the Conservation Department angle to get into this outdoor space.

I'm not going to mince words. What were the people of Clark County thinking? How can you elect a sheriff that less than two years into office has already been found guilty of poaching in Iowa and now faces similar charges right here in Scotland County. I won't even go into the sexual misconduct charges that he is currently being investigated for by the FBI.

I'll get back to chastising the sheriff but first I want to applaud the work of our local conservation agent. It is refreshing to know that no one is above the law and that all individuals are treated equally. I think we should stop and think about what these officers are doing during deer season. I suspect they deal with more armed suspects in those 12 days than most law enforcement officers see in a lifetime. That's right, nearly every suspect they approach for hunting violations typically is carrying a high powered rifle or some other firearm. Hats off to the work the conservation agents do.

Now back to the poaching sheriff. He allegedly was caught spotlighting deer in northeast Scotland County. At least it was during the firearms season and he was not using an illegal weapon as he and a friend did in Van Buren County Iowa when they shot a deer with a high powered rifle during the Iowa archery season. Even during the Iowa gun season, rifles are not allowed as hunters must use shotguns with slugs. As most people around here remember, the sheriff's action's made us the butt of a cruel editorial from a muckraker at an Iowa newspaper. That's right, all Missourians were lumped into the same category because of the sheriff's actions. With all the recent problems the sheriff has had I wouldn't be surprised to see a poaching sheriff story on the O'Reilly Factor or maybe even 60 Minutes.

I can't imagine what this is doing for the Clark County court system, specifically the prosecution, which must call the sheriff as a witness in court hearings and legal action. I suspect the defense attorneys are having a ball working in cases involving the sheriff. "So Mr. Sheriff, were you using your deer poaching spotlight to locate the defendant as he fled across the field?" Oh well, maybe Clark County will have less speeders, because so many drivers have seen the sheriff pointing his spotlight out the window of his vehicle that they assumed it was a radar gun.

I joke about this issue because it frustrates me. I believe in hunting ethics. I also believe that when you take on a role as a public servant, you should realize that you represent those that elect you. Not only has Clark County received a black eye from their sheriff's activities but as most of us realize, northeast Missouri is one large unit as far as most Missourians are concerned. Used to be when you told people you were from Memphis they would say "You mean the place with the great steak house with all the mugs hanging from the ceiling." Now when you say you are from Memphis, or Edina or LaBelle, they're going to say. "Oh yea, isn't that where that poaching sheriff is from?"

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