Column: By land and by water, outdoor dummies are at it again

Len Lisenbee
Canandaigua Daily Messenger

The most requested topic I receive for this space is, far and away, to run more dumb outdoor crook stories.

It seems sportsmen and interested readers just can’t get enough of them. So, with that said, here is the latest installment in dumb outdoor dummies.

Full-send denial

A game warden in a Midwest state was driving along during the first week of deer season when a car, exiting a state forest area, literally cut him off as it pulled onto the highway. He was reaching for the emergency light and siren switches when he noticed what appeared to be a rear leg of a deer sticking out from under the partly closed lid on the right side of the trunk, and two more rear legs of what had to be another deer sticking out the left side.

So the lights came on and he made the stop.

He approached the driver’s side, and noticed there were three guys in the vehicle. One was dressed completely in hunter’s orange, and the other two were wearing some hunter’s orange.

He asked the driver for his driver’s license and all three for their hunting licenses. The yahoo who was driving handed the officer his driver’s license, then told the officer that none of them had been hunting!

Which, I think, might have caught the officer just a little off guard.

He asked all three to get out of their car and walk to the rear where he pointed to the deer legs still sticking out in plain view. And, (are you ready for this) the driver stated that the officer could not prove there were deer attached to those legs!

But he could, and he did. Four illegal deer cost those dumb-dumbs well over $4,000 in fines.

Smiles can fade fast

Now, you might think that one would be hard to top, right? But you don’t yet know about the four dummies who were duck hunting inside a U.S. national park along the Canadian border.

They did manage to have a fine hunt, too, killing quite a few ducks (gross over-limit) and shooting at any other passing birds (they killed a grebe and a loon, two protected species) as well.

But right about then was when two game wardens and two park rangers pulled up in a boat.

Well, two of those dummies took off running into some woods behind the blind, trying to make “leg bail.” One jumped into a nearby powerboat and tried to get it started, but couldn’t figure out how. And the fourth just sat in the blind.

The officers corralled the guy in the blind along with the one in the boat, but didn’t bother to chase the two who took off running.

The guy from the boat started sobbing while the guy in the blind just sat there smiling. When one of the wardens asked him why he was smiling, he replied that he had not been hunting, just sitting in the blind with the other three.

Then he made the ultimate blunder by adding, “and you guys can’t prove otherwise.”

Well, it was right about then that two more officers came walking out of the woods, each with one handcuffed “bad-guy” in tow. And the warden who had asked the guy about his smile, trying extremely hard to keep a straight face, asked the guy to stand up and look over his right shoulder.

When he did, he saw around a hundred people, all standing on a boardwalk-type nature trail, many with telephoto cameras in hand, staring back. And they were less than a hundred yards away, too.

You might imagine that this was one of those classic open-and-shut cases, and it was.

The officers asked the on-lookers if any would testify about what they observed, and they got plenty of volunteers, including all three members of a professional film crew who offered videos that were so clear the judge could actually read the lips of each of the four defendants. Guilty!

Stubby takes a bite out of crime

An alligator snapping turtle defends itself with its bite that is powerful enough to sever a human's fingers.

A Southern game warden was puzzled about who had been poaching alligator snapping turtles from nearby canals and bayous. He knew that a lot of turtles were missing, but did not have a clue about who was trapping them.

That all changed when he received a call from a state trooper requesting that he come to the local hospital’s emergency room.

He arrived at that location a short time later, and met with two troopers carrying a large, headless alligator snapping turtle. It seems that two brothers who lived in the swamps were trapping the big turtles when one turtle managed to “grab aholt” of one brother’s right arm.

They only had one knife between them, and it dropped overboard in the ruckus. So, after trying to get the turtle loose without success, they came to the hospital. Apparently they came running in, one screaming in pain and the other holding the big turtle and trying to keep up.

Both brothers confessed to making their living in the illegal turtle trade. And one is now called stubby, because that turtle got the last laugh on him.

Check your calendar

But the best of this batch of dummies has to be the professional waterfowl guide (and known outlaw) from a small eastern state who walked into a police station and made out a complaint.

It seems he took a “client” out duck hunting, and that guy had stiffed him on his fee because they had only managed to kill three ducks. So the officer dutifully took the full report.

The report turned out to be a signed confession, and both the guide and hunter were found guilty. According to the report, the duck hunt took place eight days after the duck season had closed.

A fishy ending

And here is a dandy closer. It seems that a California angler caught a fish. It was a big fish. Very big!

And this angler wasted no time after landing that critter. He loaded it into his car and took off for parts unknown.

Unfortunately for him, two nearby anglers observed the entire “crime.” As the miscreant was loading his catch into the car one told him that what he was doing was not the right way to transport a fish.

But he didn’t listen to that advice, so they wrote down the culprit’s license plate number. They also recognized the fish that was caught. It was a green sturgeon, a fully protected species in that state.

Using their cell phone, they called the local game warden who happened to be out on patrol. He spotted the suspect’s vehicle, and made a timely traffic stop.

The officer contacted other wildlife officials who were able to rescue it. The fish was still very much alive, and biologists were able to tag it and return it to the waters where it had been caught.

They spent over 90 minutes resuscitating it before the actual release. But, after all, sturgeons are very hardy critters.

Oh, and the angler is facing some very serious charges in Federal Court for his obtuse actions.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at

Len Lisenbee