Friday, May 6, 2016

A Black Eye for Pennsylvania Elk?

A Pennsylvania Bull Elk

In 2013 the hunter who won the RMEF bull tag for Pennsylvania harvested a near state record bull, it may in fact be the new record but I don't keep up with such things. The significance of this event is that when fellow PA hunters became aware of who this person actually was it created a bit of controversy in the hunting community. The hunter, Tod Reichert, had been involved in an incident with the 2007 Washington state Governor's Tag bull. The case was not settled until 2012...

"According to Micheal C. Ormsby, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Washington, Reichert bought the 2007 Eastside any-elk Governor’s Auction Tag for around $47,000. He hired Wick to provide guide services for his hunt, and apparently just to make sure, also hired a helicopter to spot animals — illegal in Washington.
In December, Reichert killed a bull in the Umatilla National Forest with Wick’s help but outside of the area that the guide was licensed to provide outfitting services.
Later, Reichert falsely claimed that Wick had not provided professional help nor had he paid any money for his services, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Then, in 2008, Wick again provided help in the forest to that year’s Governor’s Tag buyer (which set the man back $65,000), but at the time, Wick was not authorized to provide guide services, according to the feds.
Both defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury last December.
Reichert was sentenced to a two-year probation that also stipulates he can’t enter or remain in any national forest for any recreational purpose."

After the controversy of Mr. Reichert's PA bull, wording was added to the new bill that created the KECA bull tag and continued the RMEF auction tag. The wording added to the bill reads as follows...

"  Background check.--A recipient selected to receive a license under subsection (b) or (c) must be subjected to a background check prior to being awarded the license. If one or more serious game law violations resulting in license revocation within the preceding ten years, or three or more game law violations within the preceding ten years are found, the license may not be awarded to the recipient and another recipient shall be chosen."

For all intents and purposes this wording was added due to the stink that followed the 2013 RMEF tag hunt and ironically, this person has won the same PA tag again for 2016. Apparently he still falls outside of the parameters of exclusion, however there is a twist that has come to light. There have been charges filed for a bull that was killed by Mr. Reichert last year on a Washington state raffle tag hunt. Allegedly the bull he killed was shot in a management unit that was not even open to the harvest of branch antlered bulls. 

My take on all of this? I do believe people make mistakes and deserve second chances, however, there is also the old saying of 'fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.' It would appear that this person, in their pursuit of trophy bulls, cannot steer clear of trouble. The guides who he used the last time around called him a stand up guy who admitted to past mistakes and had learned his lesson. Who steps up to guide him this time around and what do you say about him now? The potential is there to be made the fool and harm your reputation as well. I guess that comes with the territory of giving 'controversial' people the benefit of the doubt.

More than likely this new case will also be dragged out and no doubt Mr. Reichert will keep his PA bull tag for this year. If convicted in this new case it will be a black eye for Pennsylvania, the elk, the RMEF, the sportsman of PA, Elk County Outfitters, and whatever outfit guides him this year. At some point you have to say enough is enough and get these types out of the running for these tags, it is not worth the bad publicity they bring no matter how much money they put into elk conservation. To look the other way and say nothing or not act because of money is selling out and bringing shame and questionable values/motives into the whole process. The elk and hunting deserve better than that.