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Official Publication of the ACEOA

www.aceoa.org

SPRING 2009

EDITOR:
Warren Hinson

in this issue...
ARTICLES
President’s Corner ...................................................................................... 3 Notes From The Trenches ......................................................................... 5 Mr. Bill Perryman Receives Lifetime Service Award.................................... 7 Old Fashioned Fisherman Shares Fresh Tips ............................................. 9 ACEOA Sponsors FFA Campers .............................................................. 17 Love, Respect, Patience and Persistence .................................................. 21 “Blaze” the Arson Dog ............................................................................. 33 Feral Hogs Create Havoc on Crops and Habitat ....................................... 39 ACEOA Attends Iron Men Ministries ........................................................ 43

PUBLISHER: Brent-Wyatt West
601 Interstate Park Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36109

SALES OFFICES:
Bryan Elkins, Sr. Jim Downing 601 Interstate Park Drive Montgomery, Alabama 36109 (334) 213-6229

ON THE COVER
In Loving Memory of Mr. William (Bill) Perryman.

The People You Meet ............................................................................... 47 Conservation Board Considers Outlawing Practice of “Gassing” Rattlesnakes ...................................... 51 Gulf Coast Agencies Mount Massive Search and Recovery Effort ............. 57 NWTF Stewardship Project on Oakmulgee WMA..................................... 63 Marine Police Recruits Begin Training ...................................................... 67 Venison Chili............................................................................................ 71 The Early Years ....................................................................................... 77 Advertisers Index ................................................................................... 191 Business Directory................................................................................. 196

The ACE Magazine is the official publication of the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer Association. Purchase of advertising space does not entitle the advertisers to any privileges or favors from members. The ACE Magazine does not assume responsibility for statements of fact or opinion made by any contributor. This magazine is created and produced by Brent-Wyatt West. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
ACE Magazine 1

Mr. Bill Perryman Receives Lifetime Service Award
CEOA was joined by officers from Wilcox County to recognize Mr. Bill Perryman for his lifelong service to the officers of Wilcox County, the Conservation Department, and the State of Alabama. Mr. Perryman has helped officers in Wilcox County for more than twenty years. At the request of Officer Dan Quincy and the recommendation of Capt. Kenny Blalock; ACEOA awarded Mr. Perryman a lifetime service award and an honorary membership in ACEOA. ACEOA along with Officer Dan Quincy and his wife Jackie held a dinner and presented Mr. Perryman his award. Officer Quincy coordinated the event and made sure that it was a surprise to Mr. Perryman. Current and former officers from Wilcox County were in attendance as well as Mr. and Mrs. Perryman along with family members.

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Mr. Bill with Capt. Blalock and CEO Dan Quincey.

Through his service to the officers of our department Mr. Perryman earned a great deal of respect and admiration. Mr. Perryman tirelessly supported the officers in Wilcox County as well as the mission that they undertake. We are proud to have been in the company of such a great gentleman. l

Our deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. William (Bill) Perryman. Our prayers are with his beloved wife and family. In honor of Mr. Perryman, ACEOA has established The William (Bill) Perryman Award to be given annually to a deserving person who possesses the standards and dedication to the conservation department that Mr. Perryman exemplified in his service to the Conservation Officers in Wilcox County. Mr. Bill with ACEOA members. The ACE Magazine 7

Old Fashioned Fisherman Shares Fresh Tips
by David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hardscrabble life growing up in the hills of Choctaw County pretty much determined how Gray Mosley goes about anything these days, including his fishing trips to the Tombigbee River. Self sufficiency was the model Mosley learned and continues to follow, whether it’s sawing and milling his own lumber to catching his own bait for a fishing trip. From his axe and chainsaw to his trusty boats – a 1972 Ouachita bomber-style boat with a 50-horsepower Mercury and a 1981 Polarkraft jon boat with a 40-horse Evinrude – Mosley’s tools may not be the latest and greatest, but they suit him just fine. When fishing is on his mind, the obvious goal is to catch enough fish to eat. But to allow the number of fish in the box to determine the quality of the fishing trip is a mistake, according to Mosley. “You don’t catch them every time you go,” Mosley said. “It’s just not going to happen. People get caught up in how many fish they catch. A mess of fish is really all you need. If your catch eight or 10 crappie big enough to get a good fillet, that’s enough to feed several folks. “What I do is just old-fashioned fishing – an old man and old boats. They have been used several times. But I take care of them. That’s why they still run so well to be as old as they are. I don’t have anything new but fishing tackle. Boats don’t catch fish.” Bait does catch fish, though, and it’s hard to find it any fresher than what Mosley takes to the river. “This community we live in is called Red Springs,” he said. “I guess whoever named it was because of the red sand and there’s a spring in most every hollow around here. Of course, they feed down through the hollows and create bigger streams as they go along. These streams are filled with what I call branch minnows. Some people call them creek minnows, but some people call a creek what I call a branch, too. I just put a little barrel trap in there and catch enough bait to go fishing.” Mosley said he has made minnow traps, although the ones you can buy for $6-$7 each might be a more feasible alternative. “It’s just a wire mesh barrel trap about 6 inches in diameter with a funnel in each end,” he said. “I put a piece of light bread in them and in about 20-30 minutes you’ve got enough minnows to go fishing. You’ll end up with three or four dozen, depending on how many traps you put out. You walk up to one of the little holes in the branch and you’ll see if there are any minnows in it. If you see minnows, put the trap in there and in 30 minutes, at the most, you’ll be ready to go fishing. I can’t tell you the name of the minnows, but some have gold stripes and some have

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a dark spot on their tail. We called them spot-tailed minnows. There’s more of that species than any others. “One reason I like a branch minnow is they are much livelier than what you get out of a minnow vat at the bait shop. That’s just the way I came up. I’ve pretty much always caught my fish bait. I have bought bait over the years, but if it’s convenient I catch my own. The ones I catch are much more durable than a minnow out of a tank.” When Mosley catches bait, he takes water out of the stream to fill his minnow buckets. “It’s a lot better to take water out of their environment,” he said. “That water is much colder. They are accuscontinued on 13
Photo by DaviD RaineR

Gray Mosley of Choctaw County unhooks a nice “slab” crappie that hit a Beetle Spin in a slough off the Tombigbee River. The ACE Magazine

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olD FashioneD FisheRman shaRes FResh tiPs –
tomed to that. You obviously can’t put tap water out of a commercial well on them because the chlorine will kill them. Water out of natural well is OK, but I always use the water out of the branch I catch the bait out of.” When Mosley launches his boat, he goes on a “milk run” to the spots that have produced for him over the decades. “Probably 20 percent of the water holds 90 percent of the fish,” he said. “You learn these places that are productive. That’s what I concentrate on. I look for structure. If you’re fishing in the river, you look for a good tree top – oak or hickory that’s been there for some time. The leaves are all off and the branches are clean. Water depth, especially in the river, is important. If you can find treetops up on a shelf, which was the old river bank before they built the Coffeeville Lock and Dam, that’s ideal. “Fish feed out of the deep water into the shallow. They’re coming out of 30 feet of water into 15. That’s my favorite spot, especially in the fall of the year.” Current has a great deal to do with where Mosley fishes. “When I’m fishing the river, you don’t want much current,” he said. “Otherwise you can’t fish because you stay hung up. The current will wrap you up in the structure. Calmer water is best. “I fish sloughs in the spring of the year when the water temperature rises. The fish come out of the river in the shallower water into the lakes to spawn. That’s when you catch them in 2-4 feet of water.”

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Especially in the spring of the year, Mosley gives the fish the opportunity to hit artificial baits, as well. “I fish the small tube jigs, and small Beetle Spins are productive in the spring of the year in shallow water,” he said. “But I don’t go without a bucket of minnows. I’ve been out there when they wouldn’t hit anything but a minnow. That may be because I concentrate more on minnows. That’s my mainstay.” And to maximize his efficiency on the water, there are always around a dozen ready-to-fish jugs in the bottom of the boat. “I might throw out a dozen jugs and let them fish for catfish while I’m catching crappie,” Mosley said. “Those small catfish are hard to beat when they’re fried right.” Mosley said he doesn’t really understand why some fishermen launch their fancy rigs and run miles and miles before they wet a hook. “They’re passing some of the best fishing there is,” he said. “That’s my opinion, but I don’t think you need to run 15-20 miles to fish. “The main thing is to find fish close by and concentrate on that. That’s the way I operate. I don’t know a lot, but I catch enough to feed my family and share with my neighbors.” l
Visit www.outdooralabama.com to learn more about the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or to read previous columns by David Rainer.

The ACE Magazine

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Love, Respect, Patience and Persistence
by Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

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made my way to the tree stand through the darkness. I had walked it a hundred times. I knew every tree and every marker that marked my trail. My foot prints from my last hunt were still visible. No flashlight was needed. I was entering the domain of Big Swamp buck country in Lowndes County. It was the last morning of the 2009 deer season. The rut was still on and my hopes were high. I quietly climbed into my ladder stand and settled in. The sun would soon rise and I would be ready. It was really cool that morning with a light north wind that was perfect for this stand. As the sun came up, I heard a faint sound. I recognized it as a quiet tree call of a hen turkey. She got louder and I knew she was close. She was soon answered by another hen. Suddenly the woods were awakened by a loud gobble and then another! This gobbler was hot. Soon he got another gobbler started. I could tell he was a Jake but he was enjoying this first experience with his gobble. The biggest deer in Lowndes County could have walked past me and I would not have paid him any attention. I was totally engulfed in this pre-season ritual. The dominant gobbler gobbled 15 times in the tree. The hens flew down and the gobblers followed. The last gobbler on the ground was a challenge. He was the boss and he would take anyone on. I never saw any deer that morning but I witnessed something much better than deer hunting. This boss gobbler that morning became a challenge to

me. I was sure that this gobbler and I would match wits over the next couple of months. Love, respect, patience, and persistence – these are often words used in a relationship with one’s spouse or friends and believe me, I use them with my wonderful wife, Gayle. But this story is not about a spouse. It is about a wildlife species that I happen to love and respect as well. It is about the majestic Eastern Wild Turkey. You might ask how could you love something and then go out and hunt it with a 12-gauge 3” magnum shotgun. You might ask how this could be fair to hunt something that has a brain the size of a peanut. To hunt a wild turkey is much like the challenge issued by that gobbler the last morning of deer season. He is telling you he has all his wits about him. He can spot movement at 300 yards. He can pick out something in his domain and be gone in a flash, faster than you can pull a trigger. The wild turkey makes you work hard to perfect your game plan and still beats you! Now, I’m not going to waste your time telling you how to hunt turkey. I’m not going to tell you the calls to use or the strategy to take. I am probably the worst turkey hunter in existence. I am very seldom successful. It is not about my successes. I most often remember my unsuccessful hunts the most and there are plenty of them. If the gobbler does all of this to me, how could I not respect him? I watch a lot of outdoor shows on TV but I am often disappointed by the glory of the kill. These programs so often make it look very simple. First get in your blind, put out your decoys, call a few times and kill your bird. I worry that this is where turkey hunting is going. Maybe all hunting in general will end up like this. It is becoming too simple. Maybe everyone is expecting a kill and becoming disappointed when they waste a morning or an afternoon without killing anything. I am worried that we have lost respect for wildlife. I use the word respect in a true sense of the meaning. Maybe hunting is becoming a total lack of respect for the wildlife species. I have worked with Jackie Bushman and Buckmasters on several ventures and I truly believe the respect for the whitetail deer still
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Love, Respect, patience and peRsistence –
remains within this program. They work hard and video P.O. Box 815 many hours to show one kill. It is truly not easy. Other Athens, to play games with the 601-759-3546 a shows seemAL 35612 theory of killing deer. They choose sides to see who can kill the most and the quickest. Is this right? Is this the way hunting should be portrayed? Turkey hunting is often done the same way on the Outdoor Channel and other popular outdoor channels. The wild turkey deserves better. He is much too wise, keen, and deceptive C A V A T due respect. X to not receive I N G To hunt the wild turkey requires a great deal of patience. This 8782 County Road 26 I critique my is where I truly fail. When morning hunt, Hope Hull, AL 36043 I often attribute my failure to lack of patience. Maybe I moved too soon or maybe I tried to get too close. I have turkey hunted with some old timers in the past. They truly have patience. They will sit in one spot, call every thirty minutes, and remain there all day if necessary. They believe that, even though that gobbler did not come when he first heard the call, sometime during the day after other business is done, he will return to the place where he heard that hen. I just don’t have the patience to do this but sometimes that is what it takes. No matter how hard ‘get up and go’ is pulling at you, stay put. I guess this is a strategy in a way and I said I was not teaching strategy. Patience is a key prerequisite for turkey hunting. I often get into trouble with my persistence while turkey hunting. I find myself hunting the same bird way too often.

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I’ll often pass gobbling birds to go to the one that whips Enterprise, AL 36331 me on a regular basis. Is this persistence – or stupidity? 334-347-8448 Last season I fooled with a turkey for several weeks early in the season. He was a really great turkey and gobbled his head off. Then he disappeared. I never really quit listening for him but I was beginning to think I was hunting a dead turkey. This did not bother me. I kept going to the area. One morning he reappeared like he never missed a day on his hardwood ridge. I set up on him and held my gun at ‘ready shoot’ for one hour and ten minutes. When he gobbled, he gobbled three times. Probably, over two 122 Rabbit Town Road • Albertville, AL 35950 hundred times he ripped the woods. This is one of the few times my calling did not spook the bird. I hammered him 256-891-7865 with cutting, yelps and cackles. He loved everything! His hens could not even resist me and they led him to his death. This was, without a doubt, one of my most memorable kills. My persistence paid off. Love, respect, patience and persistence are words I use to describe the eastern wild turkey and what it takes to hunt him. If I could choose only one species to hunt forever, my choice would be the Eastern Wild Turkey not for my successes but for my failures. He is formidable, keen, alert and truly a remarkable bird. P.O. Box learn I would encourage anyone to361 to hunt this bird. I Jackson, to 36545 would also encourage themAL learn to love and respect him. Hunt him with patience, and persistence. Hunt him fairly. He deserves it. l

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The ACE Magazine

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“Blaze” the Arson Dog
M
eet the newest member of the AFC Law Enforcement Section: Blaze is his name, Arson is his game! In an effort to reduce the high number of arson cases in the state, the Alabama Forestry Commission recently purchased the bloodhound puppy to track down offenders. During the past four years, an average of over 42% of all wildfires in Alabama have been determined to be “incendiary” in nature, not only destroying natural resources, wildlife, and property, but also endangering human life. According to statistics, most arsonists set fires within two miles of their homes. Working with his handler, Forest Investigator Donnie Parker, the new “K-9 officer” will be specifically trained for woods arson investigations. “Blaze is a man tracker,” according to Alabama Law Enforcement Chief Craig Hill. “It’s amazing what a bloodhound can do to follow a trail somebody left. You can wear gloves to hide your fingerprints, you can work at night so chances are people won’t see you. But it’s almost impossible to not leave behind human scent. There have even been documented cases of bloodhounds successfully tracking people who have driven off in vehicles,” Hill said. Another important task for Blaze at the AFC will be his use as a wildfire prevention message and educational tool. Making special appearances in schools and camps, he will help teach children about the dangers of wildfire, much like Smoky Bear. The Alabama Forestry Commission provides an arson/ forest crimes hotline so that citizens can call and report: • Suspicious activity in areas where wildfires have occurred • Theft of timber • Theft or vandalism of timber harvesting equipment The toll-free number is 1-800-222-2927. Information provided is confidential and you will remain anonymous. l

Birthdate: July 7, 2008 Born in Darlington, South Carolina Pop’s name: Elvis of Roblyn’s Neck Mom’s name: Southern Bell Magnolia Moved to Alabama at the age of 12 wks
Sponsors for the bloodhound program include: The Tuscaloosa County Fire Protection Association, District Three Volunteer Fire Fighters’ Association, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers. The Commission welcomes continued support and assistance in the ongoing upkeep of Blaze and the bloodhound program.

This information is provided by the Alabama Forestry Commission For More, Please Visit: www.forestry.alabama.gov

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The ACE Magazine

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“Blaze” the arson Dog –

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More Blaze
by Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

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ver a year ago, I was contacted by Forestry Chief of Enforcement, Craig Hill about assisting in funding for a special arson dog. Our board and state ACEOA officers

were eager to be a part of this project and approved funding without hesitation. We met Blaze at our last board meeting. Chief Craig Hill and Blaze’s handler were very appreciative of our donation. We were proud to be one of the associations that made this project possible. As you can see by the story, Blaze has made the news! l 08ad1

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The ACE Magazine 35

Feral Hogs Create Havoc on Crops and Habitat
by David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hris Jaworowski has witnessed first-hand how a feral hog situation can get out of hand in a hurry. Jaworowski, Area Wildlife Biologist for the Lowndes Wildlife Management Area (WMA), saw two feral hogs when he started his career at Lowndes in 1997. The next year, he saw between 50 and 60 hogs. “By the third year, they had pretty much taken over a 5,000-acre tract,” Jaworowski said of the 11,124-acre WMA in central Alabama. “Supposedly, our hogs came from an intentional release by a neighboring landowner in the early 1990s. Those 10 hogs have multiplied exponentially.” The hogs first showed up in the White Hall area south of County Road 40, a parcel of land from the TennesseeTombigbee mitigation program that required the agricultural fields be returned to hardwoods. Those fields were planted in hardwoods, and the remainder of the property is primarily bottomland hardwood with an understory of palmetto. “It’s very thick habitat,” Jaworowski said. “Unfortunately, that makes it very easy for the hogs to hide. There are plenty of hogs in Lowndes, but that doesn’t make them easy to harvest. Hogs have an uncanny ability to get down in those impenetrable, dense swamps where few hunters want to go. So it’s not an easy hunt and offers a big challenge for the hunters. But they’re great table fare and a lot of fun to hunt.”
PHOTO BY CHRIS JAWOROWSKI

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The rooting action of feral hogs can wreak havoc in agricultural fields and wildlife openings.

Once an area has a feral hog population, trapping is the only viable alternative to keep the population in check.

Jaworowski said he knew when a neighboring landowner lost over 200 acres of corn in one year to crop depredation by hogs, it was going to take a concentrated effort to keep the animals in check. Feral hogs present a double whammy for those who try to control their population – hogs are prolific breeders and they have few natural predators. “What’s amazing about hogs is the reproductive capability,” said Jaworowski, who has made feral hogs presentations to wildlife-related groups around the nation. “If you start with two boars and two sows, they’ll have two litters a year, but three in 14 months. Their litter size ranges anywhere from four to 14 with an average of six to eight. So if you started with two boars and two sows with six piglets in each litter with a 50-50 sex ratio, how many would you have in three years? You do the math and you end up with 16,000 pigs. The bad thing is that number increases exponentially every six months. Feral hogs become sexually mature at six months of age. So every six months, that number will go up by a factor of four. Of course, that’s with no mortality at all. There is some natural mortality on the hogs, but not enough to have an effect. And six in a litter is a very conservative estimate. “Very few natural predators will tackle a hog. More often than not, it’s something grabbing a piglet or a hog dying
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PHOTO BY CHRIS JAWOROWSKI

FeRAl HOgS CReATe HAvOC On CROPS And HABITAT –
from natural causes. From what we’ve seen, the natural mortality is not that high. Without man going out and trying to control these things they’re basically going to keep reproducing and keep spreading across the state.” Jaworowski said the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that feral hogs are doing over $800 million of agricultural damage annually in the United States. By the year 2000, Lowndes WMA had to begin a serious control project. The hogs are trapped all summer long, and hunters are encouraged to harvest hogs on the management area. Every hog trapped on the area is humanely euthanized and given to families that need the meat for food. “We basically allow people to hunt hogs during any other open season on the area, using the weapons and ammunition approved for those hunts,” Jaworowski said. “So we basically have a hog season from early August all the way through February and during turkey season when hunters are out on the area.” Jaworowski said the most effective way to control hogs is through live trapping – setting up large corral traps baited with corn topped with molasses. The traps are 4 feet by 8 feet and 4 feet by 16 feet with horse panel (heavy duty galvanized wire fence) and inch-and-a-half angle iron posts. Not only is crop depredation a major problem, hogs are also just as destructive on the native habitat, competing for food with every game species in the woods – deer, rabbits, turkeys, bobwhite quail, etc. “They’re eating all the food that our native species need to make it through the winter,” Jaworowski said. “They’re omnivores. If they can get their mouths on it, they’ll eat it. Their primary food sources are tubers, earthworms, grubs and your mast crops – hard and soft mast like acorns, persimmons, and crabapples. Everything that we as hunters do to make our places more beneficial to native wildlife, your hogs will consume those same resources. “Not only does consuming the resources cause a problem, but the aggressive rooting they do in the fields can be murder on equipment.” Jaworowski said people don’t realize the veritable Pandora’s Box they are opening when they intentionally trap and relocate hogs to virgin territory. “Whether it’s the high prices of leases or the price of travel, people don’t want to drive 300 miles to go hog hunting,” he said. “So people, who don’t know the amount of damage they’re bringing to their property, release these hogs. In a few years, every landowner in the area has feral hogs. “Education is the key. We’ve got to teach people that trapping these things and moving them into new areas is going to cause nothing but destruction – destruction to agriculture and even road systems. I’ve got roads with four inches of gravel, and they’ll root through the gravel

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PHOTO BY CHRIS JAWOROWSKI

Traps can be made in a variety of configurations and may catch a single boar or a number of smaller hogs.

to get the grubs and earthworms below them. People just don’t understand how destructive these animals are.” Jaworowski will help conduct a series of hog control seminars this year, which will cover basic biology, reproduction and different control methods. Demonstrations will be made on the different trap types, how to set them, baiting and pre-baiting traps to get the hogs accustomed to the trap before the trap is set. The seminars are set for Feb. 26 at the AAES Wiregrass Center, 167, East AL Highway 134 in Headland; March 4 at 5 Rivers Delta Center, 30945 Five Rivers Blvd. in Spanish Fort; March 12 at Southern Sportsman Lodge, 9022 U.S. Highway 80 West in Tyler; and March 20 at Belk Activity Center, 2101 Bowers Park Drive in Tuscaloosa. Cost is $10 per person. Call 334-844-1010 to register. A special feral hog hunt is scheduled March 1-10 at Lowndes WMA. A hunting license, management area permit, and management area license are required when hunting on management areas. “You can say we use every control method possible,” Jaworowski said. “We’re going to try everything we can, within reason, to get rid of these things. They’re destroying the property and hurting the native wildlife. We don’t want these things on the property.” l
Visit www.outdooralabama.com for more information on the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or to read previous columns by David Rainer. The ACE Magazine 41

ACEOA Attends Iron Men Ministries
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ron Men Outdoor Ministries funds disabled children, children without parents, mentally and physically disabled adults, elderly individuals, terminally ill children and adults to be involved in such events as fishing, hunting, attending rodeos and car races, Thanksgiving meals, and Christmas. The ministry also supports an orphanage in Argentina with 150 small children. ACEOA is proud to donate to this fine ministry. l

(L-R) Associate D4 Director Grady Myers, State ACEOA President Chris Jaworowski, Chief Executive Director of Iron Men Ministries Rick Murphy, ACEOA Executive Director Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Administrative Assistant Gayle Morrow. The ACE Magazine 43

The People You Meet
by Scott Kellenberger, ACEOA District II Director

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have had the privilege of meeting many interesting people through the years I have served as a CEO with the Marine Police Division; from millionaires to river rats and everything in between have enriched my work and my life. James “Tiger” McKee from Langston, Alabama is just such a person. I knew that I heard his name mentioned before and I have read a few of the articles he has written for various police and firearms magazines but I didn’t know what his profession was until I found his website and discovered that he operates the SHOOTRITE Academy in Langston, Alabama, where he also resides. Langston is just off of the Tennessee River where I work. SHOOTRITE is known as one of the premier firearms facilities. As a firearms instructor, I was especially interested in meeting Tiger and seeing what I could learn from someone who trains people for a living. After meeting Tiger in his classroom, it wasn’t long before I enrolled in his basic Defensive Pistol classes. Lt. Jim Kirkland WFFD, a good friend and frequent work partner, also attended. As lifelong shooters, former police officers and veteran CEOs, we were both curious about what Tiger might show us that we hadn’t seen before. We learned quickly that Tiger’s classes are not designed for entertainment. The classes require concentration and effort but Jim and I both decided that we had fun and learned a lot. Another thing I found out is that Tiger sees everything each shooter is doing all of the

time. I don’t believe I made a mistake that he didn’t catch. By being Tiger’s student, I learned a lot about the art of instruction. Jim and I later took Defensive Pistol II and Patrol Carbine (AR-15) classes with Tiger. Each class is two days long allowing the participants to get to know one another. In the beginning, I also discovered that Tiger is one of a small handful of top defensive firearms trainers in the country. I took a while figuring this out because Tiger is generally quite and extremely modest for someone with his level of knowledge, ability and expertise. He trained with the Legendary Col. Jeff Cooper and instructs with Clint Smith at his

Tiger McKee instructing a student.

Tiger McKee, owner of SHOOTRITE Firearms Academy.

Thunder Ranch training facility in Oregon. Tiger trains police officers, SWAT teams, active duty Special Forces operatives and executive security personnel from all over the country. He will train civilians but screens closely and will not train anyone with a criminal record. He has operated SHOOTRITE since 1994 and has logged more than 5,000 training hours. He even took time out of his busy schedule to help me design a combat course that we shot from our boats back in October. I consider myself a lucky man to have a job that allows me to work in the great outdoors and gives me countless opportunities to meet people like Tiger McKee. I was fortunate in this case to gain valuable training and make a friend at the same time. l
The ACE Magazine 47

Conservation Board Considers Outlawing Practice of “Gassing” Rattlesnakes
by David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources labama’s Conservation Advisory Board heard testimony February 7th, from both sides in the usual user-group conflicts concerning dog deer hunting and gill net fishing, but the topic that garnered the most attention tends to make most Alabamians cringe – the eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Ken Darnell of Elmore County is in the business of collecting snake venom to use in the production of antivenin. The problem for Darnell is that some of the rattlesnakes he purchases to use in the venom production have been “gassed.” “Gassing” snakes involves taking a long PVC pipe and poking it down into a gopher tortoise burrow. If a telltale rattle is heard, a small amount of gasoline is poured down the pipe and into the burrow. The snake will then flee the burrow and is easily caught.

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However, Darnell said the use of gas significantly reduces the lifespan of the rattlesnakes. “Some of my snakes, I’ve had for six years,” he said. “I’ve never had one that had been gassed to live more than two months. You can tell when they’ve been gassed. They just act different. With a healthy snake, I can collect venom every two weeks. “I’ve been told that the people can’t produce enough antivenin without the Alabama venom production.” Jim Godwin, a zoologist with Auburn University, and Craig Guyer, a herpetologist with Auburn, agreed that the practice of “gassing” should be eliminated. “More than 300 species from birds to mammals to amphibians to reptiles use gopher tortoise burrows, including some rare and threatened species,” Godwin said. “The
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A Gopher Tortoise heads back to its burrow, where it may find company in a variety of animals, including the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. The ACE Magazine

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Board outlawing Practice of “gassing” rattlesnakes –
eastern indigo snake has not been reported in the wild since the 1950s. There is a long-term project underway to reestablish the eastern indigo snake in Alabama. If the practice of gassing continues, it could undermine our efforts.” Guyer said it’s harder to determine how much the “gassing” affects the gopher tortoise, a protected species in Alabama. “When you gas a burrow, the snakes can easily leave,” Guyer said. “The tortoise is reluctant to leave. Gas does bad things to lung tissue. This is a very serious concern.” Board member Dr. Warren Strickland indicated he would make a motion at the March 7 meeting, which will be held at the Mann Museum at the Montgomery Zoo, to ban the practice of “gassing” rattlesnakes. Several speakers, including Edwin Lambert of the Coastal Conservation Association of Alabama, requested the designation of Florida pompano and Spanish mackerel as game fish species, which would prevent commercial harvest. Bob Shipp, head of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama and vice chairman of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, said the two species need game fish status. “Florida pompano is a species that has the potential to be a tremendous asset to our coastal tourism industry,” Shipp said. “It is one of the few truly exciting and desirable finfish that can be caught directly from shore while surf fishing. Yet due to over-harvest by net fishermen, first purse seiners and currently Alabama net fishermen, their abundance has declined dramatically. “Although the gill net ban in Florida has resulted in a resurgence of the species along the Florida west coast, which appears to have spilled over the Alabama shoreline, a much greater improvement in these stocks could result if we banned gill netting of this species and declare it a game fish.” Shipp said results from the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo indicate a significant decline in recreational catches of Spanish mackerel. “As for Spanish mackerel, we have a similar but more recent situation,” he said. “For much of the last century, Spanish have been abundant and well-managed along the Gulf Coast. However, for the past several years, the commercial harvest has increased from several hundredthousand pounds to nearly a million pounds.” Philip West, representing the City of Orange Beach, asked for a buffer zone along the Gulf shore line around Orange Beach. “Close to five million people visit the Alabama beaches each year and spend upwards of $1 billion,” West said. “We’re there to sell an experience. We believe the proximity of that (gill netting) practice detracts from that experience.”

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Avery Bates, a five-generation commercial fisherman from the Bayou La Batre area, said the current economic crisis makes it unconscionable to consider restricting commerce along the Gulf Coast. “Why would anybody, in this day and time, want to put anybody out of work when it’s so important to keep – not only keep five generations but 20 generations of fishermen – producing good, sound, healthy food from our waters,” said Bates, whose point was reiterated by several representatives of the seafood industry along the Alabama Gulf Coast. The board was also asked by avid dove hunter Anthony “Skeeter” Fillingim to move Baldwin County into the North Zone to allow an earlier season opening. Fillingim said that by the time the South Zone opens in early October, the doves have scattered or departed due to migratory patterns. Because doves are a migratory species and regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, any changes to the hunting zones in Alabama would have to be approved by the wildlife service. The earliest that could be done would be the 2011 season. However, Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley said a change to the opening dates of the South Zone could achieve the same purpose if the public supports it. Because of a board rule that no motion may be voted on unless discussed at a previous meeting, only proposals were raised at the February 7th meeting. Among the proposals are the 2009-2010 seasons and bag limits from the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. One of the changes for the proposed seasons and bag limits would increase the unantlered deer season on National Forest Service lands in Calhoun, Clay, Cleburne, Franklin, Lawrence, Talladega and Winston counties. Another change would be to expand the alligator season in southeast Alabama to include not only Lake Eufaula but also the rest of Barbour County, as well as Henry, Houston and Russell counties. The season would also be expanded by seven days. John Thomas Jenkins, Director of Marine Police, stated the division has no plans to ask for regulations concerning a speed limit on Alabama’s waterways or a 100-foot, no-wake zone from the shorelines. Board member Dr. Wayne May also said he is working on a motion that would refine the definition of certain aspects of the supplemental feeding regulations currently in effect. l
Visit www.outdooralabama.com for more information about the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources or to read previous columns by David Rainer.

The ACE Magazine

53

Gulf Coast Agencies Mount Massive Search and Recovery Effort
by Lt. Scott Bannon, Alabama Marine Resources Enforcement

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n January 8th, 2008, Captain Chris Blankenship of the Alabama Marine Resources Enforcement Division (AMRD) received a call he will never forget. The voice on the other end was a friend who also happened to be the lead investigator from the Bayou La Batre Police department. “Chris, do you have a boat out near the Dauphin Island Bridge. I have a guy who said he threw his four kids off the bridge.” Within minutes Chris was underway and had two more officers enroute. That phone call started the largest waterborne search of the Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound areas that anyone can remember. For thirteen days, fourteen of the Divisions sixteen officers became involved in the search along with the Alabama Marine Police and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Flotilla as well as approximately a dozen other agencies from surrounding counties, three other states and two federal agencies. The victims Ryan, Lindsey, Hannah, and Danny ranged in age from less than a year to four years old and had allegedly been thrown from a height of over 100 feet off the Dauphin Island Bridge. Day two, Marine Resources was the only agency to search. It had already been more than thirty hours since the crime had allegedly occurred and night was falling. The next morning the U.S. Coast Guard and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Flotilla began at first light. The Flotilla becomes the lead agencies for recovery operations in Mobile County and the Marine Resources Division began a daily ritual of 7:00 a.m. planning meetings, searching until dark then repairing and refueling equipment to prepare for the next day. Along with this, was the prayer that it can not be true, but if it was, that all four children would be recovered. The search centered on the Dauphin Island Bridge; AMRD officers used large boats scouring the bottom with fathometers trying to locate any potential targets as well as smaller boats to check the shallow area and ATV’s to do shoreline searches. The frustration built with each passing day without a recovery. Theories and possibilities abounded but all that

could be done was to continue to search. Every piece of trash became a victim and the thought that maybe the kids were not here was on everyone’s mind. Day five, the thing everyone wanted to happen (but did not want to be the one to do it) occurred. One of the children was discovered by a local duck hunter to the west on a spit of land called Point Aux Pines. The discovery provided the evidence required for the crime and the reassurance to everyone that they were doing the right thing. With the discovery of the child, the command center relocated to Bayou La Batre and the search focused from there to the Mississippi/Alabama state line. AMRD officers switched to primarily their shallow water Predator jet drive boats that are able to operate in as little as six inches of water. The average depth of water in the search area was two feet or less. The boats were used to transport searchers to areas for walking and to take search dogs known as cadaver dogs trained to locate the scent of deceased humans. Day six, a second child was discovered in Grand Bay two miles from the first. The search continued with the thought that all four could be recovered to help bring closure. The next logical expansion was into Mississippi. Day eight, the third child was located by a Mississippi Marine Resources Officer just across the state line. Due to the close relationship the Alabama and Mississippi officers maintain, communication was not an issue and within a few minutes AMRD had transported the detectives and crime scene investigator into the shallows of the Mississippi Rigolets. One to go. The weather at times was less than helpful. At times, the winds were gusting to 40 mph, seas were to two to three feet near the shoreline and blinding rain with temperatures in the teens made searching difficult and the volunteers were called off but AMRD continued with determination. Why could number four not be found? Day twelve was a day of high winds and intermittent
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Agencies Mount MAssive seArch And recovery effort –
rain with limited searchers. Lt. Ryan Bennett of the Alabama Marine Police showed up at the Command Center with news that a boat with two duck hunters sank near Point Aux Pines and they were in the water. With three boats able to get underway quickly, the men were recovered within ten minutes of the call. Both went to the hospital suffering from hypothermia, one was in near critical condition. On any given day, the nearest help would have been an AMRD officer or the U.S. Coast Guard and both of them would have taken nearly 45 minutes to reach the area. Was this the reason number four had not been found? Sunday, day thirteen was coming to a close. Boats were being pulled from the water, volunteers were grumbling about having to go to work and not continue even the Salvation Army, who had supplied hot food and drinks for two weeks, discussed not being able to return. The AMRD officers knew they would have to start cutting back hours to handle other issues. The mood was somber; number four had not been located. Was she nearby but had just been overlooked, had she traveled to the Mississippi/Louisiana area or is she in the Gulf of Mexico where there is very little traffic this time of year? The questions were endless. Then a call came that the body of a small female child had been found off the P.O. south Louisiana, nearly a hundred miles away. coast ofBox 815 Cheers of joy were heard, hugs and handshakes went

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around, phones began to ring with the news that it was over. The mood took an immediate change; no one was celebrating the death of a child but celebrating the ability for a family torn apart by tragedy to move on. AMRD had put in almost 700 man hours, 300 boat hours and 24 hours on ATV’s now it was over. Saturday, day nineteen, the final chapter to the tragic story of four small children and the Officers of AMRD was the funeral. With little family in the area, the mother had asked if some of the officers involved in the search could serve as pallbearers. Representatives from Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, Bayou La Batre Police Department, Dauphin Island Police Department and the Marine Resources Division were chosen. The day was ironic; four small children that brought so many people together through tragedy and spent the 10ad1 final time of their lives in the water were going to their final resting place in the pouring down rain. The day ended with the family providing a meal for all of the people who had given so much to bring closure. Sunday, day twenty-one, the officers of the Alabama Marine Resources Enforcement Division begin a new week. What is in store for the future? Nobody can predict what events may occur but the officers of AMRD know P.O. Box 310029 that if and when that phone rings the “Fish cops” will be Enterprise, help do what prepared to act. Prepared toAL 36331 they can to make it better. l 334-347-8448

En c o Co n struc tio n Co m pan y

The ACE Magazine

59

NWTF Stewardship Project on Oakmulgee WMA
by Jeff L. Makemson, ACEOA District III Director and Certified Wildlife Biologist

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akmulgee Wildlife Management Area (WMA) was the first WMA established in Alabama. It was created in 1937, with the passing of the Pittman-Robertson Act, and with the partnership of the United States Forest Service (USFS). For more than seventy years the USFS and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (AWFF) have been working together to manage and to protect the natural resources on Oakmulgee WMA. Much of our past and present success has been attributed to the great support our department and the USFS have received from various user groups and conservation organizations. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) is one example of a champion conservation partner. For years, the NWTF has been a leader in assisting states in restoring wild turkey populations, contributing financially to support research to better understand the habitat requirements and the biology of the wild turkey,

and promoting safe and responsible turkey hunting. More recently, in 2007, the NWTF was awarded a stewardship contract from the United States Forest Service (USFS) to perform forest health and wildlife habitat improvements on the 157,000 acre Oakmulgee Division of the Talladega National Forest. Many of the projects were located on the 45,000 acre Oakmulgee Wildlife Management Area (WMA), located on the west side of the Oakmulgee Division. The NWTF partnered with personnel from the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division to perform several projects on the WMA. The project included 362 acres of longleaf pine thinning, 1,185 acres of forest midstory removal, 135 acres of herbicide application to control non–native invasive plants such as kudzu and cogongrass, 144 acres of wildlife plots and linear wildlife openings maintenance, planting logging loads and skid trails, distribution of 100 tons of lime on wildlife openings, installed 55 red-cockaded woodpecker inserts, installed four gates and conducted prescribed burns on 2,635 acres. Red-cockaded woodpecker, Bachman’s sparrow, bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer and wild turkey are just a few species that will benefit from these habitat enhancement projects. Forest health has also been improved, along with reducing the possibility of a catastrophic wild fire outbreak in the areas where prescribed fire was applied. The stewardship contract allowed the revenue generated through the sale of timber to fund all the projects. This type of contract reduces the number of contracts and cost associated with preparing separate contracts, maximizes the amount of work that can be implemented on the ground in a timely manner and strengthens partnerships and collaboration throughout the process. Typically a project of this size would take eight to 10 years to complete, but with the NWTF Stewardship Contract, it will be completed in less than three years. As state and federal government budgets tighten, it is imperative that we form more partnerships and strengthen existing ones with conservation groups, with individuals and with corporations to accomplish our mission. The NWTF and the USFS are two instrumental conservation partners that we can depend on for continued assistance with managing and protecting Alabama’s Natural Resources on behalf of its citizens. l
For more information about the NWTF Stewardship Contract on Oakmulgee WMA, contact Joe Koloski at 601‑824‑2993 or jkoloskenwtf@yahoo.com. The ACE Magazine 63

Marine Police Recruits Begin Training
by Lt. Mitford Fontaine, ACEOA IV Director

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he Alabama Marine Police announce the hiring of four new officers and have added another by transfer. On January 19th, Officers Thomas Bobo, Bart Lindsey, Rod MacLeroy and Willie Thornton were sworn in by Director J. T. Jenkins. Officer Chris Glover transferred to the Marine Police from Marine Recourses. All of these officers are currently in the Alabama Marine Police Recruit Class being held at District III Headquarters at Wind Creek State Park. Once they have completed the course they will begin the field training program and report to their posts. Officer Bobo will be assigned to The Tombigbee River in Demopolis. Officers Lindsey and

New Marine Police Recruits — Photo by Mit Fontaine (L-R) Rod MacLeroy, Chris Glover, Bart Lindsey, Thomas Bobo, and Willie Thornton.

Thornton will be assigned on Lake Martin. Officer Glover will be assigned to Lower Pickwick Lake. Officer MacLeroy will be assigned to Lake Logan Martin. l

New Marine Police Recruits Sworn In — Photo by Mit Fontaine — (L-R) Director Jenkins, Rod MacLeroy, Bart Lindsey, Willie Thornton, and Thomas Bobo. The ACE Magazine

67

Venison Chili
by David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources levels), no participant had PbB higher than the CDC recommended threshold of 10µg/dl – the level at which CDC recommends case management; and the geometric mean PbB among this study population (1.17µg/dl) was lower than the overall population geometric mean PbB in the United States (1.60µg/dl) (CDC 2005). The clinical significance of low PbB in this sample population and the small quantitative increase of 0.30µg/dl in PbB associated with wild game consumption should be interpreted in the context of naturally occurring PbB.” The somewhat confusing CDC report seems to indicate the minute increase in blood lead levels was caused by the consumption of wild game taken with traditional ammunition, but the study really can’t determine if that is the sole cause because of vocational exposure to lead or lead-related hobbies. Pre-industrial humans had lower blood lead levels, but I consider that a moot point. NSSF noted that blood lead levels of children under six – those who the Minnesota Department of Health deem “most at risk” – had a mean of just 0.88 micrograms per deciliter of blood, which is less than 1 part per billion and less than half the national average. Children over six had even lower lead levels. The CDC’s level of concern for lead in children is 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood. NSSF also noted that Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture conducted a study that showed only 5.3 percent of whole cut venison donations contained “very small amounts” of lead fragments. Hence, 94.7 of the donations had no fragments at all. The CDC study indicated that more than 90 percent of hunters cleaned around the wound channel to ensure there were no bullet fragments. “Hunters have been taking game with traditional ammunition for over a century, and the CDC results simply confirmed what we already knew – that there is no threat in consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition,” Novin said. “Blood lead levels have been tested in Iowa since 1992, and there has never been an instance of a problem.” Novin said the response NSSF has received after blowing the whistle on this fiasco has been very positive. “It’s not really because of us but because of the CDC results,” he said. “When we brought this to the attention
continued on 73 The ACE Magazine 71

s a big pot of venison chili simmers on the stove, I can’t help but marvel at the imaginative—if not delusional—ways some people will try to deter us from consuming wild game. If you haven’t read about it, a dermatologist in North Dakota claimed there were lead fragments in venison donated to food banks. Unfortunately, it caused a panic and health officials in North Dakota and Minnesota made the food banks dump the venison. What a colossal waste. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a team in to do a study of the hunters in North Dakota to look for lead contamination. When the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) saw the results of the CDC study, it was obvious certain groups were using this as a spin tactic. Ted Novin, NSSF’s Director of Public Affairs, said the results from the study indicate what hunters have known all along. “The question posed is whether traditional ammunition poses a threat to people who consume venison harvested with that ammunition,” Novin said. “That question has been answered. According to the CDC report, the average blood lead level for hunters tested was lower than that of the average American. So we feel strongly that the CDC results speak for themselves – that this is a non-issue. I don’t know what other evidence people could want.” The section of the CDC study to which Novin is referring follows: “While this study suggests that consumption of wild game meat can adversely affect PbB (blood lead

A

The Early Years
by Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

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y retirement from Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Enforcement came in May of 2008. I served 25 years in a very rewarding career with this division. Several people have mentioned that I probably could write a book on the things that I have seen and have been involved. I have chosen to share my adventures with the people I most appreciate, our officers and our ACEOA supporters. When I was hired in 1983, I was blessed to have a partner who had police experience. Keith Mickle had worked for Decatur PD for several years. He was very street smart and often kept me out of trouble because he had this experience. This Part I of my career may give you the impression that our department was in complete turmoil; and in a way it was. Officer Craig Chapman had been brutally murdered in bordering Butler County in 1982. The person who did this spent very little time in prison and made a mockery of our court system. It wasn’t until several years later when he boasted about killing Craig to another agency that he spent additional time. The officers in Lowndes County had been fired for stealing the Probate Judge’s cattle. Stories evolved that they were only corralling the problem cattle for removal. Who knows? It did create a real problem for Keith and me when we arrived in Lowndes County. Public trust was at its worst. They could only see two more renegade Game Wardens arriving to continue the past, business as usual. On August 31, 1983, after we were sworn in, Captain Henley and Chief of Enforcement Dalton Halbrook called Keith and me aside. We were informed of the serious problems that were occurring across the river in neighboring Autauga County. It would be our job to observe and apprehend the corrupt conservation officer in Autauga County. What a way to start our career! Our first arrest could very well be one of our own; and we were to do it without help from any surrounding officers. This was scary stuff! It is important to give you a little history of the conservation officer from Autauga County. I will just give him the fictitious name of Billy Bob. The folks who were

involved in the investigation won’t have any trouble figuring out who Billy Bob actually is. He was one of our most decorated officers and had received five Governor’s awards. No one else has received that number of awards from the Alabama Wildlife Federation. He was very smart and had served many years in Autauga County as a remarkable officer. Nobody really knows why he went sour. He became involved with the sheriff of Autauga County at that time and some of his cronies. Politics, parties, and corruption gave him an ‘above the law’ attitude and a false sense of security. During this era, the Spoonbill Catfish was not protected. Regulations later put this fish on the endangered species list. Spoonbill Catfish provide the markets with “poor man caviar.” The eggs (roe) from the fish were bringing a premium. Commercial fishermen were coming from all over to catch the fish for its by-product. Billy Bob was said to be a buyer for the roe. This was never substantiated but he was definitely involved up to his chin. The Alabama River is considered an impoundment to the Lock & Dam at Jones Bluff. Gill-netting is restricted in these areas because the river is stocked with Striped Bass. Two miles below the lock & dam waters are open to gill-netting during daylight hours only. Spoonbill catfish are easily caught in gill nets and are prevalent in areas of the river closed to netting. No one knew the river like Billy Bob. He was already involved with other commercial fishing techniques. The rise in value for the roe generated a new interest for harvesting the spoonbill. When Keith and I were informed of his activities, we were shocked. To place this kind of responsibility on two rookie officers was beyond me. We were told that it had to be done by us and outside contacts would be limited. The information we obtained would only be heard by Captain Henley and the Chiefs in the Montgomery office. Keith Mickle had prior police experience and did not have to attend the police academy. Shortly after August, I went to Selma Minimum Standards Academy for seven weeks. Keith was in the county during the week by himself. On the weekends, I would work with Keith patrolling
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The early years –

continued

the county. Prior to deer season in 1983, I completed the academy and returned to Lowndes County for good. It was obvious that we were not very popular because of the former Lowndes County officers. Fortunately, things got better once the people of Lowndes County met us and saw that we were in this for the long haul. It still was very difficult. This probably should be in Part II of my stories; but it seems to be an ideal spot to elaborate on the problems we encountered during the early days. Keith and I were patrolling an area in North Lowndes County and encountered two individuals we suspected shooting doves off power lines on a public road. Unable to make a good arrest, we released the subjects with a verbal warning. They immediately informed us that they had ridden with the prior disposed officers and would be interested in riding with us and help us in the county. We simply informed them that we did not allow riders and we would learn on our own. They informed us that Lowndes County was a rough county and told us to be careful. I give you this information because this was the first negative contact we had made. Maybe it was coincidental. Shortly after this contact, someone began tacking (square roofing nails) in our driveways. Keith and I spent several days getting to the Montgomery warehouse to replace tires. We had the local Police Chief in Hayneville watching our residences but they were watching him and managed to get us when he wasn’t there. Fortunately, the warehouse had more tires than our friends had roofing nails. In the early years, Keith and his family rented a house in Hayneville. Gayle, Kelli and I moved to Lowndesboro and later built a home there. Requirements by the department back then required us to be on the Hayneville telephone exchange and could pretty much dictate where we lived in the county. These restrictions have now eased. In the spring of 1984, we received help from two young and aggressive officers in Perry County. They offered to help us work details to apprehend Billy Bob. Mike Nichols and Byron Smith were our new recruits in this very difficult situation. We had received information that Billy Bob was working with a group of commercial fishermen in Statesville and operated out of Steele’s Landing on the Autauga County side of the river. Night vision scopes were new; but we had acquired one through another agency. Mike and Byron manned observation points at the Lock & Dam. Keith and I launched our boat at Benton and had chase responsibilities. I don’t remember exactly how many nights we spent sitting in the mouth of Big Swamp Creek but we were convinced this is where the apprehension would be made. On one of those evenings, Mike and Byron had reached the observation point in late afternoon. We were set up in the creek in our boat. Mike informed us that Billy Bob

was there, below the dam in his state boat. He had his shirt off and was snatching for fish on the short wall between the floodgates and the powerhouse. According to the rules dictated by Montgomery office, we had to see Billy Bob place the nets. If we did not and found the nets in his state boat, he could say that he pulled them up and they were illegal nets. Billy Bob knew this, too. Remember, I said he was smart. Lt. Virgil Randolph had dropped off Mike and Byron that afternoon and went to a pre-determined hiding spot with his vehicle. After dark, Billy Bob had tied to the black buoys below the dam. We were convinced the nets were tied to the buoys. Radio traffic was limited. We had borrowed radios from another agency so that Billy Bob could not monitor our traffic. Remember, he had the same radios we used. Finally, we felt like we had him. Yeah, sure! For some unknown reason, Lt. Randolph left his location and was spotted by the Statesville lookouts. They went to the fishing pier below the lock & dam and flashed their lights. Billy Bob left the buoys and motored to the pier. He spoke to his lookouts and returned to the buoys. We believe he cut his nets and headed down river. Keith and I watched him go past us in his boat. We went to the lock & dam and began dragging for the nets. Because the generators were on, the nets disappeared down river quickly. Billy Bob obviously took his boat out at Steele’s Landing and returned to the lock & dam searching for us. We observed him climbing on the top of the restrooms at the fishing area looking for our observation points. He even called me on the radio. I did not answer. We were so close to closing this chapter on our “bad apple,” but it didn’t happen. This detail had been compromised and we knew we would not get this opportunity again. He was just too smart to do this again in this area. I close this “early years” chapter with just a short statement. Conservation Enforcement Officers are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. We often go places other officers are not allowed to go. We are given greater powers and our officers know this and are very careful not to abuse this power. Every agency has had officers who abused their law enforcement power. Because of the turmoil in Lowndes County during my earlier years, it should not negatively reflect on the department. Our department addressed these problems the best way they could. Their goal was to remove these officers who had abused their powers and to learn from these experiences. Please read in our next issue Chapter II, “The Catch.” This will be the end of an era as I share some very comical events. Please stay tuned. l
The ACE Magazine 79