Raleigh Constituent drops by with another editorial for the files:
Now that Turkey Hunter Clyde Coffey’s life has been sacrificed on the altar of incomprehensible law enforcement policies I thought it might be useful to study the legal terrain Hunter “Joe Rifleman” must traverse in his adventures afield.
I quickly discovered this topic cannot be reasonably covered by an encyclopedia, let alone a book or a few articles. In fact, this maybe the first in an unending series of comments so difficult is it to plumb the depth of knavery and tomfoolery embedded in North Carolina hunting regulations.
The word “quagmire” only begins to describe the situation. The IRS code is an Elementary School “Dick and Jane” reading primer by comparison.
Below please find a brief (?!) overview of the topic.
To begin know it is said amongst the knowledgeable North Carolina is sprinkled with a number of “sweet spots” where a fellow can stand in an open field and box the compass in four opposite directions (North,East,South and West) for a few hundred yards and find himself under four conflicting sets of hunting regulations.
I know not personally if this is true, but a quick perusal of the hunting regulations certainly reveals it to be plausible.
You have your International Treaty Laws and regulations, your Federal laws and regulations, your State laws and regulations, your local (rural) county laws and regulations and your local (urban) city and town laws and regulations.
There are separate laws and regulations that govern conduct on State Game Lands and another separate set of laws and regulations that govern conduct on Military Reservations and yet another set of laws and regulations that essentially ban hunting from mining operations and facilities even if the owner were inclined to give permission.
“Working Agriculture Operations” (farms) have their own set of exemptions and rules.
Dare and Currituck Counties have their own countywide Game and Wildlife Commission.
Every year the Hunting Regulations Digest issued to hunters with their license purchase helpfully highlights regulation changes in red. Every year there are at least fifty changes, some quite significant.
In the August 2008 issue of North Carolina Sportsman Magazine (CLICK LINK HERE) author Craig Holt reported Judge Timothy Lee Paige ruled the definition of “take” was “unconstitutionally vague” when he dismissed a charge of “hunting over bait” against bear hunter Charles Smith
Craig Holt concluded his report with the comment if the ruling stands “WRC (Wildlife Resources Commission) will have to rewrite the bear baiting law for the third time in two years, then get new wording adopted by the General Assembly”.
In the 2007 archives of the North Carolina Bear Hunters Association website these comments are included in a discussion of Senate Bill 1246:
Senate Bill 1246
Regrettably, the NCBHA and the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) found themselves faced with vastly opposing viewpoints on how best to stop an unexplained flood of bear baiting enforcement citations.
The issue came close to ruining an effective working relationship that had spanned over 20 years.
At issue was a sudden and mysterious increase in bear baiting enforcement citations.
Hunters were charged without particular evidence or conditions that would normally cause an enforcement officer to write a citation.
There was remarkable evidence that suggested poor enforcement practice and possible violations by law enforcement personnel in District 2.
Hunters on several occasions met with WRC executive staff trying to find out what was behind the incidents.
In the face of incredible evidence, the WRC did not demand that the rash of enforcement abuse stop.
If anything, arrogance and intimidation, in addition to poor law enforcement was the response. Hunters loudly voiced concerns and the NCBHA leaned hard against the WRC.
All of the above examples do not even begin to describe the local regulations that attempt to outline geographical areas where certain practices are restricted.
They are couched in genuinely obscure and arcane language such as that found for Franklin County.
This is what the Franklin County paragraph says, I kid you not:
(It is illegal to) hunt game from the right-of-way of any public road in that part of the county bounded on the north beginning at the Tar River at the Granville County line east to US 1, then south along US 1 to the intersection of NC 56, then east along NC 56 to the intersection of US 401,then north along US 401 to the intersection of NC 39, then south along NC 39 to the intersection of NC 98, then east along NC 98 to the Nash County line.
So now you know, when it comes to hunting, local sovereignty still rules over both State and Federal Highways! And you thought all that stuff was forever relegated to the musty past with the Magna Carta and the Constitution!
Nope, when it comes to hunting the Bolshevik “greatest good for the greatest number” is unapologetically replaced with good old fashioned local sovereignty.
Anything goes if it cudgels an unenlightened activity like hunting into submission.
But I am not finished!
Here is one more really great example of indecipherable regulatory incoherence. The leading (current) contender for complete Alice-In-Wonderland-Mad-Hatter “the law is ours to know and yours to find out” bureaucracy is DUPLIN COUNTY.
On page 67 of the North Carolina Regulations Digest the Duplin County portion contains this instruction: For information concerning hunting from the roadway in Duplin County contact the County Attorney.
When you call Duplin County you will be told by staff they have a guideline sheet that must be A. Mailed or B. Faxed or C. Picked up in person. It CANNOT be emailed or posted on the Duplin County Website.
So there is a genuine mystery here. The mystery maybe related to the number of times the regulation for Duplin County has been changed in the last five years as demonstrated by these JPEG images.
(Posted At Top)
Some knowledgeable commentators have said Duplin County has two diametrically opposed and unenforceable statutes regulating the same activity.
If so, what could the County Attorney possibly include in a super secret guideline sheet to reconcile the conflict? And why would that guideline sheet be unavailable under the Public Documents Law?
Only Alice’s Mad Hatter knows for sure.
Here is the North Carolina General Statute for Duplin County.
Presumably it is the current “controlling legal authority” Or maybe not. (CLICK LINK HERE)
My suggestion is for all 500,000 hunters who have a copy of the North Carolina Regulations Digest call Duplin County Attorney Wendy Sivori at (910) 296-2233 and asked to be mailed their own personal copy of Duplin County’s Super Secret Hunting Guidelines so they will be in compliance and not be shot by some zealous Game Warden whose grasp of the law may be no better or worse than the people who create them.
Hunters are not second class citizens and should stop allowing government to treat them as though they were. If tourism dollars are welcome, so should recreational hunting dollars be welcome.
Clyde Coffey rest in peace. Apparently you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time: hunting on your own land, minding your own business. (CLICK LINK HERE)