Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jeff Foiles Case Update - And What's It To Ya?

I'm not sure that Jeff's 45hp mud motor is necessary in a flooded corn field,
but hey, I'm not a pro-staffer, so what do I know?

Edit (6.25.11) - Foiles has accepted a plea agreement and is headed to federal prison. Details here. 
Wow.  Last month's post on the Jeff Foiles conundrum has been linked to, re-posted, and forwarded around North America - becoming one of my most-read posts of all time.   It's funny - hardly anyone wants to comment on it in a public forum.  I think my favorite response so far has been from a Kentucky hunting forum, where a poster commented, "I don't need some Yankee (yours truly, apparently) to tell me that Jeff Foiles is a Douche Bag."  Beyond my amusement over being called a Yankee, I thought it was pretty damn hilarious.  It also raises a good point, and re-iterates the point I originally tried to emphasize last time - this isn't about just Jeff Foiles.  It's about the culture - our American hunting culture - that pays him to exist, and kill and kill and kill and kill.  There's even a Facebook group (I assume, pre-indictment) called "Jeff Foiles is my hero."
And that is more of my concern about hunters - young hunters particularly.  What does a pro hunter need, you could ask many of them? They'd answer "lots of bands," "lots of sponsors," and "DVDs with a lot of ducks and geese falling out of the sky."  That is just ugly.  So let's beat this dead horse into the ground!  The information I have is from several sources, the most comprehensive of which are the Springfield State Journal-Ledger (here) and Environment Canada (here).

Foiles v. United States
On January 27th, Foiles pleaded not guilty to 23 federal felony violations of the Lacey Act.  Trial to begin April 5, 2011. 
Foiles vs. Environment Canada
As he was leaving federal court in Springfield, Illinois, a courier notified Foiles that he is to appear for arraignment in Edmonton, Alberta on April 5, 2011 on 10 migratory game violation charges (primarily bag limit and possession limit violations) and 2 criminal charges (cruelty to animals).  
In fairness to Jeff Foiles and the prosecutors, I won't wager a guess on how the cases will turn out.   The major buzz, and there's plenty of buzz, since hunting season is over, is that Foiles still refuses to provide a detailed press release, media interview, or other information to his sponsors, investors, clients, and supporters. As one internet poster noted, "If you think you might be found guilty, wouldn't it be difficult to make a detailed statement that was neither false or incriminating?"  Heh, good point. Fair enough.
It's exciting that this case has brought forward the discussion on "why do we hunt?" The answers range pretty widely - as they should - from "I just want to see the sunrise with my kids," to "If I didn't see ducks for a whole season, I would definitely quit for a few years," to, "I load that gun with the intention of killing birds that day.  That is the goal."  Regardless, hunters seem to really be thinking about it right now.  I've written several times before about managing our own expectations of our field experiences.  Being conscious of why we are going afield on any given day, I think, is the best way to make sure we have a chance to meet our goals.   I would argue that a lot of today's hunting DVDs don't make a positive contribution to our understanding of the sport, or passion for anything except kill shots. 

  Maybe this will change the whole "pro staff" structure and economy, which endorses the production and sale of DVDs like "Kill Em All 14" and "Mountains of Dead Ducks 23" (I'm exaggerating).   I'm gonna keep an eye on it and report back to you.  In the meantime, I'd also like to see some waterfowling DVDs that embrace the resource and experience of hunting as much as the harvest.  Have any suggestions? Let me know - I'll let you know what I see.

Y'all behave yourselves out there!


Trey said...

Nice post!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Good luck with that. Aside from the Duck Commander show, I have never seen any duck hunting show that wasn't kill shot after kill shot after kill shot (and the only reason DC isn't that way is that they wrap some amusing reality TV plots around the killing, not because they're showing a more well-rounded experience of the hunt).

Personally, I'd love to see something that shows the incredible humor of duck hunting (I mean, damn, ruddy ducks have a terrific sense of humor the way they fly a foot over your head at light speed). But that requires more creativity and probably more filming than the kill-kill-kill stuff.

The funny thing is that even Ducks Unlimited - which as an organization emphasizes the resource - produces a show that's all about the kill-kill-kill. I used to try watching it on a treadmill at the gym but I always had to turn it off because of the excess.

Don't think I contributed much to the conversation here, but I do enjoy beating a dead horse...

tugboatdude said...

I have to disagree with your input on the Ducks unlimited show,For the most part.At many points during the show,they talk with landowners about everything from conservation to BBQ.Many factoids about conservation and land preservation come on the screen during the show.That being said there have been disturbing episodes of drake only kil shot after kill shot.Of all the DVD out there,I have seen quite a few,DU has one of the better ones.Just my opinion,not trying to start a war

Swamp Thing said...

I kind of agree with T. While (as a former DU wetland biologist) I feel like DUTV frequently misses a HUGE opportunity to really highlight DU's conservation work, the kill shot ratio isn't generally ridiculous. Some episodes are much more so than others!!!

One of the better ones I've seen was an episode of "Winchester Waterfowlers Edge" with Sean Mann hunting the Laguna Madre (one of my dream destinations). There were several pieces on the area, why it's important to ducks, and a bunch of other tidbits/stories. Again, it could have been done even better, if they wanted it to be (or thought that's what the viewers want to see).

Swamp Thing said...

I'm hoping that a few folks will write in and give me some leads on those kinds of DVDs....

Phillip said...

I can't offer much help on your quest. Most bird hunting videos, from planted birds to waterfowl seem to focus on little more than killing stuff. On a rare occasion you get to watch a good dog work, and on an even more rare occasion you get to hear a little bit about wild bird and habitat conservation. But mostly it's shot after shot of birds coming in and going down.

I watch a fair bit of outdoor television, but when given the chance, I'll change the channel when a bird hunting program comes on.

Not that many of the big game shows are much better... but that's a different topic for a different time.

As far as Foiles, there's a lot of grey there, especially around some of those Lacey Act violations. When they resort to that, it usually means the Feds are reaching. It's not a good situation, no matter how it pans out, and I won't defend the man because I know almost nothing about him or the specifics of the case. But I am holding off on forming an opinion just yet.

Swamp Thing said...

On Foiles, that is spot-on. Esp. with this new information about the level of charges in Canada (most are basically serious misdemeanors) vs. the 23 FELONY counts in the USA. My gut tells me that in the American case, both sides are likely itchy to settle. The Fed prosecutor so s/he can claim a victory, Foiles, so he can get his license back at some point and keep guiding. But who knows?

And who knows what will happen in Canada, either?

Swamp Thing said...

You guys are bringing me down on the duck DVD front!