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Busted: Poacher Attempts to Break Every Game Law

by Skip Knowles   |  February 29th, 2012 13
Busted poacher

Big smile for the camera, hotshot!

Why did the snow goose cross the road? To get shot in a wildlife refuge, evidently, at least in Delaware.

The shortest investigation in the history of poachers occurred when lifelong WILDFOWL reader Charlie Long was out shooting snow goose photos at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna, Del., on Feb. 15. The Hook is the biggest staging area for greater snow geese on the east coast. Long has seen up to 100,000 snows there at once and was there Monday, Feb. 13 when the migration moved in.

He took a photo of geese crossing the road with cars backed up, and the local newspaper ran it front page. As it turns out, some miscreant saw the photo as a scouting report. Long was back down photographing geese on Wednesday and had just moved 200 yards down the road when he heard a single shot ring out from the spot he’d just vacated. He thought, “there is no way that was a shot.” “Geese flew everywhere, and I backed up to investigate only to find this gentleman standing next to his truck with a shotgun and then walking into the field.”

Geese crossing

The photo that sparked "inspiration." Photo by Charlie Long.

Two other witnesses began talking with Charlie in disbelief. The trio called the police and the game warden, and the alleged poacher walked out in the field to get his birds. In an especially poignant moment, Long and the other witnesses stared in disbelief at the suspect as he stared down at a goose flopping around in the refuge.

“He was waiting for one to die and also watching as two crippled geese ran into the woods,” Long said.

It all happened an incredible 500 yards from refuge headquarters. Long took off to get the refuge manager, then left him making phone calls and went back down to the crime scene, where he and another witness saw the man’s gun laying on the ground.

“I said ‘let’s go get it,’ and we took his gun and the other guy took his keys. Then he came back with the birds and argued with us that it was legal,” Long said.

The game warden showed up at 5:30 p.m., corporal Julie Jones with the State of Delaware Division of Natural Resources. She investigated and determined the goose gunner was, um, wrong. Way, way, wrong. She searched him and his vehicle, arrested him and towed the vehicle, Long said.

Long relates: “He plead ignorance. She said ‘this is a federal refuge and you are in possession of lead shot, shooting from a roadway and have no hunting license, and are in illegal possession of waterfowl without stamps and have unlawfully discharged a weapon inside a federal refuge.’”

When the officer asked him what made him decide to do this, he said he saw the photo in the newspaper showing the birds at Bombay and wanted to “get some geese,” Long said. “He was apparently unaware you couldn’t shoot them inside the refuge. But the guy really didn’t care. He kept professing ‘this is perfectly legal, I’m allowed 15 of these.’ I told him if you are an ethical hunter and know the rules and regulations, you’d know there’s no limit.”

“I asked him to see his license and he said ‘what do I need a hunt license for,’” Long said. “He was a perfectly rational guy, not mentally ill, he was in a solid frame of mind. I was in total disbelief. As a (waterfowl) hunter I was disgusted.”

Hats off to Long for having the gall to disarm a poacher and act decisively to make sure a violator paid the price.

Poacher holding a shotgun

  • Shvet Samuel

    At first glance, I thought this may have been the transcript from the Jeff Foiles poaching case since it was a "Crime Scene" but it turns out none of the geese were banded.

  • matt

    This article is great! I honestly thought this was a total joke: the guys bright and obvious clothing and how the pictures were. I think this article, and whatever charges the man got, should be posted everywhere along side of Jeff Foilles story. We need the "after arrest" story i.e. what he was charged, how much in fines, and what time he is going to spend. That way more individuals will want fair justice with incidents like this. Money shouldn't buy you an easier conviction!

  • speckspotter

    Wow. I heard stories of my great uncle pulling stuff like this back in the day, but that was during the Depression. Maybe things are a lot tougher than we realize. I bet the original owner of that Browning is rolling in his grave somewhere..

  • Rob

    I have to admit that the guy would not top out on the intelligence meter. However, the interior department wants snow geese populations brought down yet NWR's are still closed to hunting during the conservation order. Why not open them up to managed hunts? Which would allow hunting snows where they congregate and would cause them to fly off the refuges more allowing more to be killed by hunters elsewhere.

  • shoreboy

    personally i find the face that some people are still hung up on foiles is more disgusting. Atleast he is doing his time. Yall need to just let it rest, as for this guy he don't look to bright but i agree about opening up some hunts on the hook snows are becoming more and more of a pain and destroying a ton of crops in md and high tailing it to delaware

    • Rich

      You beat me to it shoreboy.

    • Goosekiller

      I totally agree… U must be an actual hunter, judging from your perspective

  • Rich

    this guy isnt ahunter and never will be shooting from the road with lead shot into a NWR isnt going to gather much public support for a snow goose hunt here!

    • glenn

      he is as much a hunter as the folks i see on tv. not much difference here than the guys that film a big "hunt" shooting from a blind placed over feed troughs for fenced in farm raised deer..

  • Jimmy

    And if i was the guy i would've had them arrested for taking my gun and cars keys! They're not the police!

    • Jerry Hull

      Citizens arrest is clearly appropropriate here Jimmy. Firearm was discharged with a man and a woman walking their dog just behind this shooter. There were at least five people not counting several that drove by while he was still holding a loaded shotgun. This individual started walking toward his vehicle with a goose in each hand and totally fell face first as if he was drunk and had a difficult time even getting up. Definately, a medical problem and not capable of making proper choices in my opininon. It would be the same if this individual had been drunk, had an accident and hurt someone and tried to get away. Would you just let him drive away to hurt someone else? I hope not. This off duty law enforcement officer did the right thing and no one got hurt.

  • Foiles was foiled

    Jeff Foiles is a typical union criminal. He thinks the laws don't apply to him. Rot in hell, convict.

  • Jerry Hull

    After reading this article I emailed the editior and received no reply. The story as written is mostly fabricated. I know, because I was there the whole time. When this event happened Mr. Long totally left the scene heading to the office. Mr. Long never touched the gun and never made the statement "lets go get it!" In fact, an off duty law enforcement entered the field, picked up the shotgun and cleared it. He then placed the shotgun in the back of my truck where it stayed until Corporal Jones retrieved it from my truck. There was never any mention about seeing a photo in the local newspaper and this person wasn't rational and neither was the act of shooting the geese. This individual had medical problems. I'm a registered nurse and I questioned him myself and got that info. No, Mr. Long was no "hero" this day, but he can sure tell a story!

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