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The Late Moose

October 6, 2009

I intended to launch this blog with a thoughtful, witty post.  But my experience  this morning at a local coffee shop scrubbed those good intentions.  The Rapid City Journal’s front page headline proclaimed the news that the Black Hill’s transient young bull moose was dead; shot by a poacher.

The young bull had strayed into the Black Hills, probably from Wyoming’s Bighorn Mtns., earlier this summer and was a sensation as he wandered around Custer State Park and the Pactola Reservoir.  According to the paper he’d moved on up the creek to Deerfield Lake.  Last Friday afternoon a group of elk hunters spotted the moose, down and badly wounded.  These hunters took the time to get a cell-phone call out to the Game Fish & Parks Dept.  and assist the responding CO.  However, the young bull could not be saved.  Mike Kintigh, the GF&P Regional Supervisor, investigated the incident and reported that signs at the scene showed the moose had dropped almost immediately upon being shot and had laid thrashing on the ground, quite possibly for an exended period before he was spotted.

Kintigh rules out the possibliity that the moose was mistaken for an elk; the moose was shot in an open, grassy area, in close proximity to a road.  “The evidence at the scene tends to make up believe that the person had ample time to clearly view the target and carefully place a shot in it,” Kintigh said.  “It was not standing in heavy, thick cover.  It was in a very open area.” 

As I expected, everyone in the coffee shop was outraged.  Our hostess loudly informed each of her regulars about what had happened to “our moose,” describing those responsible for the moose’s demise in profane terms.   A friend I’ve hunted with came in and joined me at the table and launched into a tirade of his own, praying he could catch the shooter alone in a room.  That’s a pretty common reaction around town today.

Kintigh told the newspaper the shooter shouldn’t be classified as a hunter.  ‘”This was a poacher, a criminal, a crook.  Whether they did it for fun, just to say they shot a moose at some point in their life or just to be mean, whatever, I don’t know,” he said.   But unfortunately, I notice that most of the folks that do not hunt are talking about and loosely describing  the moose-shooter as a hunter. 

Despite all Mike Kintigh’s efforts to underscore that the shooter was a criminal, not a hunter, this sordid event is going to haunt all of us that pick up our bows and firearms and go  into the field this fall.   My friend might have been radical about his approach to justice, but he was right to speak up loudly condemning  this unethical, illegal act.  If hunting is to survive in the long run, we sportsmen need to distance ourselves from the moose-shooters out there and hold them responsible, not only for what they do to wildlife, but also to our sport.

— Jim Margadant

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Wayne Gilbert permalink
    October 6, 2009 4:41 pm

    I’m going to be a frequent visitor and sometime commenter. I hope that hunters can be assistance in identifying the shooter. I also hope that whatever crime he or she gets convicted of includes the permanent dispossession of firearms as part of the punishment. Such a person is obviously not morally qualified to own or possess one, and should not be legally qualified to do so either. Oh yeah, a little jail time and fine for good measure.

  2. October 6, 2009 4:51 pm

    Welcome to the digital age.

  3. Jill Workman permalink
    October 6, 2009 10:13 pm

    Sad topic, but an important one for people to see and understand. Congratulations on a well written and thought out inaugural posting. Articulate tirades make for the best blogs.

  4. October 7, 2009 7:32 pm

    Would there have been as much Local Outrage if it had been the “local methhead”?

    They run real fast.

    Rules are rules, I guess.

  5. October 7, 2009 10:15 pm

    Except for an arbitrary law, how is the “shooter” who apparently killed the moose for fun, so different morally than the “hunter” who shoots an elk for fun? Or meaner? I call the law “arbitrary” because in my experience laws are not necessarily moral. Or maybe this isn’t a moral question?… though it must be, as people don’t normally have an urge to get traffic violators alone in a room and beat the hell out of them, or whatever. Just something to chew on for a while.

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