As I talk to outdoorsmen around the Ozarks it is amazing how ignorant they are about their rights as hunters and fishermen. The greater percentage of those I talk to wrongly believe that agents can come into their homes or buildings whenever they want to.

Randy Doman, the enforcement chief of the Missouri Department of Conservation has sent me a letter which clears all of that up and every person needs to read and understand it. You can do that by going to my website, to read his letter, and read what another MDC employee has sent me describing how agents today use the Teletech system to find deer hunters they can charge.

I have sent these letters to the newspapers who use my column, but they cannot be printed in most due to space problems. Before you go outdoors with a gun, read Doman’s letter and be surprised to learn the truth. In one violation of a deer hunter’s rights, the MDC was taken to court and had to pay out a million dollar settlement which they never even appealed. Until now, this has been hidden, never mentioned in the news media. If you are harassed or innocently charged, you have grounds for a lawsuit.

I asked a high-ranking official of the MDC if landowners who register their land with his agency are of higher risk because of it. He laughed at that idea, saying that registering your land will mean nothing when it comes to your rights as a landowner-hunter. “Can’t you see the obvious reason for that requirement?” he asked me. “Remember 20 years ago when we tried to get rules that made small landowners have to buy permits by making the land size requirement 80 acres? It was a boondoggle that made small landowners madder than hell and they dropped the idea.”

He went on to say the registering of land was a stroke of genius by the MDC bureaucracy because thousands of landowners, skeptical of any government interference would not do it. Therefore those thousands of landowners who won’t register their land now have to buy a deer tag to hunt their land, and the increase in revenue is immense. You can’t get landowner permits if your land isn’t registered with the MDC. That, along with the elk and bear tag sales situation adds well over a half million dollar increase to the MDC coffers each fall!

In some ways, the move is backfiring. I talked to one landowner in the northern part of the state who owns 240 acres. He is indeed ‘madder than heck’ about the whole fiasco. “I won’t register my land with any agency just to get a 20-dollar deer tag free,” he told me. “But I will kill any deer I want now without a tag, and one of my sons will do the same. The MCD will never know a thing about it.”

Many landowners are doing the same thing. It is really easy to conceal a deer kill, and it is now going to make violators out of people who once did things according to the law. And landowners who once supported the MDC are unhappy with the land registration requirement.

But this advice comes it from an ex-conservation agent…“If you kill a big antlered buck, and you call in and tell about it, you are apt to have an agent at your door. When you call in, don’t you realize that the reason you are asked about the circumference of the beam and the number of points? That tells agents how valuable that rack might be? Don’t give that info, just say you killed a little eight pointer. You cannot be charged for giving whatever information you choose.”

“And remember that if an agent shows up during the deer season wanting to see your deer and look in your freezer, he has to have a search warrant!” He said emphatically. “No agent has any rights to demand a thing of you without that search warrant. If he asks you to let him come in, or look in your barn or your shed and you agree to it, you are asking for a fine. Close the door and ignore them. If you get one wanting to see where you killed your deer, just answer that you are too busy. You do not ever have to show and agent where you killed a deer or a turkey or even a coyote. Even a search warrant doesn’t require you to do that, and if you do, you are for certain going to receive a citation. Don’t be stupid!”

Call me at 417 777 5227 or email Letters can be sent to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo 65613.