GREAT SPORTSMEN AND THEIR DEEDS OF THE 1997 SEASON
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1998:
Chris Cochrane and six hunting buddies thought
they’d killed a deer on December 27, near Turner’s Bay,
New Zealand. Then, thinking he’d seen the deer move, one
man fired another shot, reportedly causing “serious injuries” to
Cochrane’s pelvis and buttocks. Airlifted to medical help,
Cochrane achieved an unusual daily double when he was also
charged with poaching, along with all six pals.
Reports reaching ANIMAL PEOPLE indicate that
no U.S. hunter was involved in both the shooting of a human
and in poaching in which charges were filed in the same incident
during the fall/winter 1997 hunting season––but no shortage
of hunters were involved in one or the other.
As the December 1997 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE
noted in describing earlier accidents, many recent
shootings call into doubt the value of hunter safety classes:
• Jeffrey Dean Nevitt, 21, of New Ellenton, South
Carolina, was killed November 15 while hunting with five
friends, including former New Ellenton police chief Harvey A.
P i t c h e r. Reported Kathy Steele of the Augusta Chronicle,
“Pitcher resigned after allegations in February 1997 that he
failed to properly teach a state-mandated concealed weapons
course. In August he pleaded guilty to perjury, admitting that
he falsely signed certificates to verify the number of hours students
took to complete the course. He was fined $100.”
• James Edward Gilbert, 15, shot himself dead
while hunting alone on November 22 near his home in
Yalobusha County, Mississippi. On November 23, an unidentified
juvenile killed Roy Keith Morgan, 36, of Booneville.
Both Gilbert and the unidentified juvenile were recent hunting
safety class graduates.
• So was David Hall, 13, of Whitefish, Montana,
who accidentally shotgunned another recent safety class graduate,
Christopher Weaver, 14, also of Whitefish, on
December 21 while duck hunting.
• Haskel B. Matthews Jr. and his two sons, of
Hampton, Virginia, heard a safety lecture from game wardens
on December 6, then joined a parent-and-child special deer
hunt at Hog Island, a state hunting preserve. Four hours later
Matthews Jr. hit Haskel B. Matthews III, age 14, with a shotgun
blast to the back, neck, and shoulder. The boy survived.
Herman Leon Smith Jr., 23, of Damascus,
Arkanas, became the fifth known Arkansan hunting fatality of
the season during a December 2 squirrel hunt, when buddy
Marvin Proctor, 32, tripped and shot him in the head. The
four other victims were killed by hunters who had taken safety
courses. Proctor was two years too old to have had to take one.
Hunting near Motley, Minnesota, about a mile
from where Teresa Poynter, 13, was shot in the chest on
November 9 as she played her clarinet in her living room,
Thomas E. Smith, 47, of St. Cloud, was on November 18
shot through both legs. No one was charged in either incident.
Poynter, hospitalized 13 days, returned to school in December.
Georgia endured “the most accident-prone hunting
season in almost 20 years,” Jason B. Smith of the
Augusta Chronicle reported on January 1, 1998, with 113
reported accidents and seven deaths in 1997, through
September 23, plus others yet to be tallied. Among the most
recent dead were a 17-year-old from Houston County, shot
November 15 by a friend who slipped and fell as they checked
a hog trap, and a 13-year-old from Fayetteville, who apparently
shot himself on November 16 while falling from a tree stand.
Matthew J. Clark, 17, of Lawrenceville, Georgia,
on December 31 became the last known human hunting victim
of the year when a companion somehow shot him in the head as
they drove along a rural road about an hour short of midnight.
Clark at deadline was reportedly in critical condition.
Earlier on December 31, Travis Brendemuehl,
28, of Lancaster, Wisconsin, was reportedly in fair condition
after a rabbit-hunting buddy shot him in the shoulder from
behind at close range.
January 4 brought the first reported human hunting
victims of 1998. Art Walsh, 43, of Marystown,
Newfoundland, lost a leg to a buddy’s close-range shotgun
blast. Jamie Reeves, 13, of Winchester, Ohio, was in critical
condition after he was shot in the head at close range while deer
hunting with a muzzleloader, accompanied by his brothers,
ages 28 and 11. Who fired the shot was unknown.
Called to account
Among the few hunters called to account for accidents,
Robert Morley, 32, of Cleves, Ohio, was convicted
of criminal recklessness on December 11 for shooting R y a n
Combs, then 17, of Dearborn County, in the jaw and neck in
1996 while hunting coyotes. Combs has had extensive surgery.
Blake Bayer, 38, of Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, was
charged on December 3 with reckless endangerment, for
allegedly shooting a horse out from under a 12-year-old girl on
Thanksgiving while hunting near an airport. Bayer allegedly
fired four shots in all, killing that horse and causing two others
to throw their riders.
Brian Mahle, 28, of Zanesville, was charged with
involuntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting Betty
Hankinson, 73, also of Zanesville, as she drove her car on
December 4 near the city limits.
The naked & the dead
Not every case was an accident.
In Upper Hyner Heights, Pennsyvlania,
Associated Press reported, “Hunters from surrounding
camps learned of the show” on November 29 when two exotic
dancers put on a private performance for hunters at an establishment
called The Lodge. “The audience grew to 30 or 40,”
the AP report continued, “many of whom were drinking alcohol,
police said. After the performance, the women and the
husband of one dancer tried to drive away. But a sport utility
vehicle blocked their path, police said. According to police,
two men got out and told the dancers they were not leaving.
The husband, Larry Nagle, drove on and one of the men fired
three shots at the car from a semiautomatic pistol. Nobody was
hurt, but a tire was flattened. Nagle, 42, of Bellefonte,
stopped, retrieved a shotgun from his car’s trunk, and fired it
twice in the air, scaring away the men, police said.” T h e
alleged pistol-shooter, Garrett Alexander Joseph Boynosky,
44, of Old Forge, was arrested at his hunting cabin the next
day and charged with reckless endangerment and aggravated
A deer hunter identified as “Horvat, 54, of Big
Lake, Alaska,” was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds
on December 17 near New Salem, Pennsylvania. Police said
Horvat formerly lived in Amend, Pennsylvania. “There is no
well-founded reason to consider this an accident,” Fayette
County coroner Phillip Reilly said.
Florida police said December 5 that alleged
hunter/serial killer Danny H. Jenkins is no longer suspected
in the 1993 murders of two hunters who were shot from behind
and robbed, but Jenkins, 51, of Akron, remained under investigation
concerning the unsolved killings of Lisa Watters, 32,
and Andy Hussey, 31, shot a week earlier in 1993 in Portage
County, Ohio, and concerning the 1994 discovery of the skeletal
remains of an unidentified teenaged girl near the same site.
Jenkins told a local newspaper that he was among the hunters
who found the bones, but police have no record of him being
involved. Jenkins awaits trial for allegedly killing and robbing
two hunting buddies, brothers Duane and William Lockard,
60 and 61, of Suffield Township, on October 31.
David Vandyne, 38, of Irondequoit, New York,
who reportedly had “an unspecified prior criminal record,” was
charged on November 25 with allegedly killing and robbing
Randall McClellan, 44, of Clarkson, New York. It was not
clear whether Vandyne claimed to have been hunting.
“Nobody can remember a case like this,” said Monroe
County district attorney Howard Relin.
Minnesota law bars persons convicted of violent
crimes from possessing firearms until 10 years after they
complete their sentences, including probation, but in
November WCCO-TV of Minneapolis identified 569 licensed
hunters among lists of convicted violent felons.
Federal law contains similar provisions, so after
convicting Chad Giller, 24, of battery on October 31 for
allegedly beating his girlfriend in May 1995, Judge Robert
Rasmussen of Balsam Lake, Wisconsin on December 12
vacated the conviction to allow Giller to go hunting, and had
him charged instead with doing property damage. Giller earlier
voided a plea bargain by not taking an anger control course.
Doug Vestal, 29, of Bowling Green, Ohio, was
jailed on parole violation and weapons charges in December
after probation officer Dan VanVorhis saw his photo in a
newspaper as winner of a bowhunting contest. Vestal was on
probation for alleged domestic violence.
Among late 1997 alleged poaching cases, the
Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission c h a r g e d
seven people with illegally poaching perhaps thousands of
armadillos, opossums, and deer since 1994 to supply
Caribbean restaurants in Brooklyn, New York.
Former Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
staffer Todd Levi Reed, 19, in mid-December plea-bargained
a misdemeanor conviction, and forfeited his rifle for shooting a
trophy-class bull elk with a DWR-issued rifle as well as his
own and a handgun. Reed reportedly also agreed to pay restitution
of $2,500, 31% of the supposed legal minimum for a bull
elk of that size and age. Reed was the second DWR employee
of 1997 to be fired and convicted for alleged poaching.
On November 23 Christopher Smith of the S a l t
Lake Tribune detailed how Milton Laval Robb and four sons
have been allowed to continue a hunting guide business despite
receiving 30 citations since 1981 for allegedly breaking wildlife
laws. Three sons, Chris, Shawn, and Brandon Robb, and
an employee, Shawn McLeroy, are appealing a three-year suspension
of their small-game privileges. Laval and Brandon
already lost their bear and puma permits for five years due to a
1993 conviction for illegally possessing a puma––but according
to DWR investigator Doug Messerly, have apparently continued
to guide bear hunts in California, in violation of probation.
Days after the 1993 conviction, Smith reported, “the Robbs
were involved in a bizarre case of lassoing a cougar, choking
him senseless, dragging him across a hunting unit boundary,
and releasing him so a customer [William Mehl of Pennsylvania] could shoot him.” For that, Chris, Shawn, and Brandon
Robb in 1995 drew 36 months of probation, 50 hours of community
service, and $1,000 fines apiece, cumulatively equal to
what Mehl had paid them.
Rancher Hugh Broadus, 57, of Forsyth, Montana,
charged in a mid-November lawsuit that Montana Department
of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks agents Terry Hill, Robert
Winfield, Chris Anderson, and Gary Burke conspired with
Roger Brown, then a Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish
Commission agent, to arrange a 1993-1994 undercover investigation
of Broadus as a chance to hunt together at taxpayer
expense on the Broadus ranch. Brown was under investigation
in Florida for allegedly holding simultaneous employment with
the Montana department, which Broadus says paid for Brown’s
flights to Montana and back to join the hunting parties.
Broadus and four others were charged with illegally guiding
hunts for out-of-staters in November 1995, but the charges
were dropped in August 1996.
Six Idaho Northern and Pacific Railroad workers
were charged on December 24 with illegally killing wild
turkeys, deer, and even bears and a puma as their trains passed
through remote parts of Idaho. The chance to file many further
charges was reportedly lost because Idaho has a one-year
statute of limitations on filing alleged turkey-related complaints
and a two-year limit on charging alleged big game offenses.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reportedly
probing interstate live deer traffic, after finding whitetailed
deer from a part of Michigan quarantined due to bovine tuberculosis
on at least 12 canned hunting properties in Alabama, a
state USDA-certified as brucellosis-free since 1988.