Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Duck Hunter With Common Sense Responds to Jeff Foiles

I'm sure we'd all rather be hunting than discussing this topic! Southern Maryland, January 2011

Two days ago, I posted an update on Jeff Foiles, celebrity hunter and alleged game thief. That blog post has been tossed around and re-posted a dozen times already, and not without comments from Foiles' supporters (and someone saying that for writing about it, I am a "bigger douche than Foiles can ever aspire to be."). Awesome.  As I was finishing up that post, I happened upon Foiles' official statement about the plea bargain he accepted - which (if the judge accepts it) will land him in federal prison for 13 months, cost him $100,000 in fines, and prohibit him for doing any hunting or guiding whatsoever for a period of 2-3 years.  In short, a life-changing but not life-ending (or even career ending) sentence.

The statement itself struck me as quite odd, and with 20 years of duck hunting in about a dozen states under my belt, I thought I'd add a few notes that might help Jeff and his team prepare their next press release.  Honestly, I used to bill $120 per hour for legal advice on wetland and wildlife issues like this. And I haven't testified in open court for a few years, so I'm rusty on cross-examination.  So fire away with your comments!

Today after years and months of trying allegations I can finally say I feel vindicated.
Response: Vindicated?  Bro, you are going to Federal prison for a year. 
Recommended for next time: "I believe a fair outcome was reached."

 The Federal Government conceded from 23 felony counts to 2 misdemeanors, Counts 2 & 5 of the original indictment.
Response: Your point? The Federal Government also "conceded" with Al Capone down to a one year federal sentence on misdemeanor tax evasion. Let's not go there.
Recommended for next time: "By negotiating severe penalties for 2 misdemeanor counts, the prosecutor felt it was reasonable to drop the remaining counts - including all felonies.

The “D& J Strait Meat Duck Club” (now “Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club”) which was the club at the time, was charged with a false writing act. It was owned during 2002-2008 by myself & partner Dennis Marschuetz and his son Jason Marschuetz.  They admitted to taking many over the limits and writing false names down. They were granted immunity pleas, along with many other guides at the club.
Response: Yeah, I know.  Everybody hates a rat (clinks beer bottles with Jeff).   Who cares?
Recommended for next time: Delete

Illinois club owners are bound by law to write down hunters’ names and kills. D & J also had a picking shed which also requires a log. This is where the false writing act came about.
Response: Hoss, it didn't "come about."   Sinus infections "come about."  Hang nails "come about." Dozens of admitted game violations committed in the presence of law enforcement over the course of five years didn't just "come about."
Recommended for next time: delete

One of the days was I & a Whitetail Properties employee; together we had killed 9 ducks, over by one. Mr. Jeff Evans (said employee) was also granted immunity in that incident, which was a false writing act violation.
Response: Why even bring this up?
Recommended for next time: delete.

There were a lot of days at our club that we roosted over 25,000 birds. Pits 25-30 foot long and 6-8 hunters in the blind. Some days birds would pile in, shooting fast & furious and adrenaline racing.
Response: What the hell does that have to do with anything? 
Recommended for next time: "The majority of these violations occured on days when I, as a licensed guide, did a poor job of managing shooters and their individual limits."

It’s hard at times to keep a good control as everyone is shooting birds falling into flooded corn.
Response: Jeff, this is precisely your job.  You have a commercial guide license that specifically requires you to ensure hunter safety (within reason) and compliance with game laws (absolutely, period).  "It's hard?"  C'mon dude.
Recommended for next time: WTF! DELETE!

Many a cripple would be found later, as dogs hunted making us “over the limit”.
Response: Hoss, are you arguing that you cannot count, that you can't call the shot properly, or that you do not pay attention to what your hunters are doing? "Many a cripple" not found for hours? What?  How many did the dogs leave out in the corn, then? This is not the behavior of normal, everyday hunters.  This totally bizarre statement would be more defensible if you hadn't produced this DVD with your face on it!:


It doesn't read "1 Over the Limit - The Dog's Fault!"
 Recommended for next time: In the past, I have made light of hunting parties perhaps being "one over the limit" because of the combination of high quality hunting  opportunities and poor hunt and hunter management by myself, or more often, by my partners, and/or my employees.  There are many ways that a hunter or a hunting party can be "over the limit," and those reasons range from nearly unavoidable (most common) to totally intentional (rare, in our case). However, I now see more clearly that over the limit is over the limit - and illegal, and managing individual limits is an important part of my responsibilities as a licensed guide.

One thing no one did at the club or anywhere was throw one away!
Response: Ugh. Why bother?
Recommended for next time: delete.

We wrote it on the register & cleaned the bird. Everyone should know that just because 3 guys went to the pit they all shot & came in with less than a 3 man limit doesn’t mean 1 man can’t claim he killed over the limit. It’s “party hunting”. As a club owner you do not have to ever be on the property to get that ticket.

Response: Jeff, you know that the club owner (meaning guide service, not necessarily landowner) is absolutely going to get charged if clients were instructed/encouraged/allowed to shoot over the limit, because the guide - I'm sorry - "club owner" owns the commercial guide license and the rights and responsibilities of the license transfer to his employees. 
Recommended for next time: delete

I at the very least feel at rest as the accusations of taking bands by shooting birds in parks was dismissed!!! I have hunted for 48 years and am proud of each and every one I have killed and only wish I had the 4 lanyards full that was stolen from me back. Of all the accusations that I have lived with that was the worst.
Response: I agree with you there.  I'd love to know the story of where that tale came from, and who at US DOJ was responsible for picking up this story (apparently a story with no backbone and no legs) and running with it.
Recommended for next time: place this statement prominently at the beginning.  It's important for your business, and important to other hunters who see the ethical slide between taking a few extra birds illegally (not good) to baiting and killing birds illegally, out of season, in a safety zone, etc.

I have read hundreds of pages of immunity papers from many people. It was hard to understand why they picked me until I read where my ex-wife, Andrea Foiles Nicolay had requested the Fed. Agents to the house. The accusations that they were told were all accusations that I was never charged with. A bad divorce with an ex living with an ex employee is a bad deal!
Response: Jeff, you know what's a horrible defense?..... "Yeah I'm guilty, and volunteered to spend a year in federal prison without even having my guaranteed day in open court, but it's cuz that woman done turned me in to the law."  THAT is a horrible defense.
Recommended for next time: WTF! DELETE!

When it comes down to it my choices were very clear, take 2 misdemeanors, server punishment
"Server punishment?" Explain?....
Recommended for next time: proofreading by someone with a high school diploma
and get to enjoy the sport I love in a very short time again with my son and friends
Channeling my dad: "Guess you shoulda thought about that when you were breaking federal law in two countries."
Recommended for next time: use this line at least twice in your statement

OR a long hard trial with a false writing act charge (which is a felony) and never having a choice to enjoy that again. It seemed simple but again a choice I didn’t think twice about.
Response: For the sake of politeness, I'll let this drop.  Jeff could have entered a guilty plea at any time over the last six months.
Recommended for next time: delete - defer to the sincere and honest line about wanting to be able to hunt with your kids.  Everybody understands that.

Once reading the Federal document that stated they were “Charging one of the highest profiled hunters to stop the Commercialization of Waterfowl Hunting” I knew where I stood.
Hoss, you use horrible grammar.  Fact: you were indicted federally in two countries.  I sure hope you "knew where you stood." For the sake of your clients and investors, I hope that you quickly grasped the gravity of that particular scenario.

Recommended for next time: WTF! DELETE!

To me that was telling us all from manufacturers of shotgun shells, boats, decoys, calls, and club owner they were on a mission.
Response: Again, that sentence is an abomination.  How about some proper verb tenses and correct punctuation?  In legal terms, a "reasonable person" would think that your statement is delusional. A mission to do what?? to decoy manufacturers?

Recommended for next time: WTF! DELETE!

Am I innocent of never ever killing an extra duck or goose and not knowing they were written down falsely? No, I totally admit I did that.
Response: The plea deal signed by your attorney states that you did it yourself, and instructed other people to do it.  That is not at all the same as "not knowing."
Recommended for next time: "As a result of this painful process, I have had to admit to myself, my family, and all American hunters who support migratory waterfowl with their tax, stamp, and license dollars, that I have committed wildlife violations on several occasions throughout my 40 year career (representing thousands of additional days afield when I did not commit any violations whatsoever).  I know that although most of my violations were accidental, uknown to me, and/or honest mistakes, that is small consolation to the American hunting community.  The realization saddens me and I will be even more diligent in following game laws in the future."

Did I do this everyday as I have hunted across the US, Canada, Mexico & Argentina for years for 5 months or more at a time.
Did Jeffrey Dahmer kill people and eat them every day for years for 5 months at a time? No.  But those bodies still piled up.  Actions have impacts, Jeff.
Recommended for next time:  Delete - defer to above recommendation

No Just look at the # of days & locations. 90% of the time it was a pure adrenaline rush without sound thinking and times more than not an honest mistake.
Response: "Pure adrenaline rush without sound thinking?"  This is your job we are talking about.  That's a non-defense if ever I've heard one.  What about the times that it was not an honest mistake (i.e. a few instances that the Federales have on video)? Recommended for next time: WTF! DELETE!

I accept responsibility for the things I have done and I accept the punishment for those acts.
Response: For the record, in this short statement you have accused back-stabbing/lying employees and partners, their children, your ex-wife, your ex-employee who is ...seeing.... your ex-wife, your dogs (really?), your own lack of ability to count to 5, your overactive adrenal glands, your tendency to "mistakenly" illegally fill out legal harvest forms, anti-hunting, anti-business federal prosecutors, and worst of all, your clients of being responsible for putting you in these situations, and each time that one of those other factors did not come into play, well then, you just happened to make an "honest mistake."  Is that how someone accepts responsibility in YOUR family? Ouch!
Recommended for next time: Keep this statement - it should appear to a reader to be solid and sincere, but delete all the crazy blaming that is entwined through the other parts of your statement.

I encourage all hunters to be ever so diligent. Remember Party Hunting is illegal!! As a club owner make sure records are accurately kept by ALL individuals making entries. On those occasional days that the ducks are everywhere, don’t get caught up in the moment and shoot over your individual limit. Over the limit is over the limit. Also, as a club owner, hold your guides accountable on how they act. Club owners are held accountable for things you do AND what your guides do as well.
Response: I have a feeling that this paragraph is what your lawyers told you to put out as a press release.  That would have been a raelly good, smart business move.  I'm only telling you this as your friend, and as a duck hunter with common sense.
Recommended for next time - Keep it.  This is great, and honest, and any reader can tell it's from you, personally.

The statement I would have advised Foiles to release:
Today, after months of legal discussions with the US Government and my attorneys, I have accepted a plea offer on two misdemeanor game violations.  I believe a fair outcome was reached.  By negotiating severe penalties for those 2 misdemeanor counts, the prosecutor and my legal team agreed that it was extremely reasonable to drop the remaining counts - including all felonies.  The majority of the violations listed on the original indictment occured on days when I, as a licensed guide, or employees of mine, did a poor job of managing shooters and their individual limits. I accept responsibility for the things I have done and I accept the punishment for those acts.


As a result of this painful process, I have had to admit to myself, my family, and all American hunters who support migratory waterfowl with their tax, stamp, and license dollars, that I have indeed committed basic wildlife violations on several occasions throughout my 40 year career (representing thousands of additional days afield when I did not commit any violations whatsoever). I know that although most of my violations were accidental, uknown to me, and/or honest mistakes, that is small consolation to the American hunting community, my investors, my sponsors, and my fans. The realization saddens me and I will be even more diligent in following game laws in the future."

In the past, I have made light of hunting parties perhaps being "one over the limit" because of the combination of high quality opportunities and poor hunt and hunter management by myself, or more often, by my partners, and/or my employees. There are many ways that a hunter or a hunting party can be "over the limit," and those reasons range from nearly unavoidable (most common) to totally intentional (rare, in our case). However, I now see more clearly that over the limit is over the limit - and illegal, and managing individual limits is an important part of my responsibilities as a licensed guide.

The following few years will be challenging for my family and I, as I serve out the terms of my sentence on these two misdemeanor violations.  One thing I can say for sure is that the day when I can return to the duck blind with my sons and my friends cannot come soon enough.

(Jeff's words here) I encourage all hunters to be ever so diligent. Remember Party Hunting is illegal!! As a club owner make sure records are accurately kept by ALL individuals making entries. On those occasional days that the ducks are everywhere, don’t get caught up in the moment and shoot over your individual limit. Over the limit is over the limit. Also, as a club owner, hold your guides accountable on how they act. Club owners are held accountable for things you do AND what your guides do as well.


Jeff Foiles' original, uninterupted statement:
Today after years and months of trying allegations I can finally say I feel vindicated. The Federal Government conceded from 23 felony counts to 2 misdemeanors, Counts 2 & 5 of the original indictment. The “D& J Strait Meat Duck Club” (now “Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club”) which was the club at the time, was charged with a false writing act. It was owned during 2002-2008 by myself & partner Dennis Marschuetz and his son Jason Marschuetz. They admitted to taking many over the limits and writing false names down. They were granted immunity pleas, along with many other guides at the club. Illinois club owners are bound by law to write down hunters’ names and kills. D & J also had a picking shed which also requires a log. This is where the false writing act came about. One of the days was I & a Whitetail Properties employee; together we had killed 9 ducks, over by one. Mr. Jeff Evans (said employee) was also granted immunity in that incident, which was a false writing act violation. There were a lot of days at our club that we roosted over 25,000 birds. Pits 25-30 foot long and 6-8 hunters in the blind. Some days birds would pile in, shooting fast & furious and adrenaline racing. It’s hard at times to keep a good control as everyone is shooting birds falling into flooded corn. Many a cripple would be found later, as dogs hunted making us “over the limit”. One thing no one did at the club or anywhere was throw one away! We wrote it on the register & cleaned the bird. Everyone should know that just because 3 guys went to the pit they all shot & came in with less than a 3 man limit doesn’t mean 1 man can’t claim he killed over the limit. It’s “party hunting”. As a club owner you do not have to ever be on the property to get that ticket.



I at the very least feel at rest as the accusations of taking bands by shooting birds in parks was dismissed!!! I have hunted for 48 years and am proud of each and every one I have killed and only wish I had the 4 lanyards full that was stolen from me back. Of all the accusations that I have lived with that was the worst.


I have read hundreds of pages of immunity papers from many people. It was hard to understand why they picked me until I read where my ex-wife, Andrea Foiles Nicolay had requested the Fed. Agents to the house. The accusations that they were told were all accusations that I was never charged with. A bad divorce with an ex living with an ex employee is a bad deal!


When it comes down to it my choices were very clear, take 2 misdemeanors, server punishment and get to enjoy the sport I love in a very short time again with my son and friends OR a long hard trial with a false writing act charge (which is a felony) and never having a choice to enjoy that again. It seemed simple but again a choice I didn’t think twice about. Once reading the Federal document that stated they were “Charging one of the highest profiled hunters to stop the Commercialization of Waterfowl Hunting” I knew where I stood. To me that was telling us all from manufacturers of shotgun shells, boats, decoys, calls, and club owner they were on a mission.


Am I innocent of never ever killing an extra duck or goose and not knowing they were written down falsely? No, I totally admit I did that. Did I do this everyday as I have hunted across the US, Canada, Mexico & Argentina for years for 5 months or more at a time. No Just look at the # of days & locations. 90% of the time it was a pure adrenaline rush without sound thinking and times more than not an honest mistake. I accept responsibility for the things I have done and I accept the punishment for those acts.


I encourage all hunters to be ever so diligent. Remember Party Hunting is illegal!! As a club owner make sure records are accurately kept by ALL individuals making entries. On those occasional days that the ducks are everywhere, don’t get caught up in the moment and shoot over your individual limit. Over the limit is over the limit. Also, as a club owner, hold your guides accountable on how they act. Club owners are held accountable for things you do AND what your guides do as well.

10 comments:

Ron said...

I like yourself could not believe that Foiles would publish such a mindless response. Doesn't he realise that he has yet to be sentenced. The Magistrate will conduct a sentencing hearing prior to officially sentencing Foiles and then make a decision if the punishment as agreed upon is within the guidelines as established (ie does the punishment fit the crime) and whether or not to accept the plea agreement. As concerned citizens, we have an opportunity to write the Federal Magistrate and let him know as to whether or not Foiles' plea agreement fits within our hunting/social morals. I myself see him as a pompus ass and that he got off easy. We as hunters have always had this black cloud hanging over our heads. I bet there is not onr hunter out there that has not had to defend our sport at one time or another. This ass only lends credance to the anti hunters argument that we are all slob killing poachers. He truly gave a black eye to our sport and our waterfowl (hunting)domat community. On the bright side, he still has to deal with the indictment Canada. Also, Illinois (his home state) has a history of recharging under Illinois State Law any hunter who pleads guilty on Federal Charges. My calculation is that Foiles will not hold a firearm for many more years than what the plea calls for.

Sanders said...

Well, I guess from the statement it is plain to see why this guy is in trouble...it never ceases to amaze me how people will pass blame on everybody else other than themselves.

well, at least he'll have thirteen months to look in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

After I read his statement, I, too, said to myself, "he's not even sentenced and he's saying this!" Can't believe it.
If I was the sentencer I would power up a little more heat on top.

Obviously he has not learned his lesson, yet and thumbed his nose at the system.

Good article.

prpark said...

Good post...After hearing a few of his calling CD's, it is no wonder that he would write his own statement. He seems full of bravado and self importance. I am amazed he did not plug his calls or try to sell in the statement.
All the Best,
Phil

Joe Camacho said...

I really enjoyed the responses that you would have had Jeff read. It is a shame that one who promotes waterfowl hunting in such a visible way is guilty of these types of crimes. However, is it a surprise? “One over the limit” DVD? Good job Jeff for hanging yourself on that one.

{nUtTyPrOfFeSsOr} said...

His dogs and exwife are clearly to blame; not the smartest cracker either as that original statement is horrible.

Swamp Thing said...

In some ways, this is a sport in which it can - at times - be difficult to follow all of the laws, all of the time.

That being said, there's a difference between breaking the law due to circumstance, breaking the law habitually, breaking the law habitually & intentionally, and selling yourself and your products as an outlaw who breaks the law habitually & intentionally.

Foiles falls dangerously close to that last category, and now I'm sure he's upset that all of these people in his life caved in and didn't support him when their hide, too, was on the line. I'd be upset too.

But I'd also ask myself, "Why have I let myself get in the position where staying out prison requires everyone I know to totally refuse to cooperate with law enforcement?"

Ron said...

Swamp Thing:
You hit the nail on the head. It is difficult being a duck hunter. Mistakes do happen. But to flaunt it, that's where we should draw the line.
Ron

Yellow Dog Patrol said...

River Mudd,

Outstanding post, great blog. Glad I bumped into it. Keep up the great writing

Anonymous said...

All he's gotta do is become a born again, keep cranking out calls and A&E will give him a reality show. And then the guy who wrote this article will commend him as a role model.

heh