Mollie Newton: Arkansas hunters were dealt a great injustice

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— To the editor:

I am writing this letter in the regards of the "poaching men from Arkansas." One of those men just happens to be my husband, and I wanted to clear a few things up with everyone. No. 1: Never believe everything you read about someone. This is something I have never thought about before when reading of other men labeled "criminals." Just because someone is listed as pleading "guilty" to a list of charges does not mean they actually did them.

In our case, what it means is our family no longer had the financial means to fight for innocence. We lasted as long as we possibly could, paying lawyers in Arkansas and Colorado monthly as well as for three flights to attend court in Colorado. Let me just add that after paying to fly out there to court, William and Bradley, along with their Arkansas lawyer, were told they would have to come back in two weeks because a Colorado game warden was unable to make it and no one bothered to call us beforehand.

Of course they did not care, because these boys were being treated as criminals. I'm not sure what happened to "innocent until proven guilty."

The whole story was twisted to make the citizens of Colorado feel pride in the DOW and justice system for getting criminals off their territory - when really, the sting was set up specifically for someone else who did not make the trip this year.

William and Bradley bought hunting licenses and made an honest mistake of hunting in the wrong unit (it was one unit over from where they were supposed to be - not private property).

When questioned, William even drew the DOW a map to show exactly where he hunted this year and last year. He truly thought it was within the unit. He did not try to hide anything from them.

They told him it was not in the correct unit, and at that point they stated he hunted without a license. Because he told them about the deer he killed in the same spot last year, which was mounted and hanging in our house in Arkansas as his prized possession, they had Arkansas Game Wardens come to my house and remove it the next day. That is where the "illegal possession of wildlife" came into play.

The cut on William's nose happened during the week of hunting when his four-wheeler rolled down the mountain. He had broken bones and was too scared after that to load his deer due to another passenger and their deer. William's deer was tagged while tied to the tree so coyotes wouldn't get it, and it was retrieved within the hour.

This was viewed as "attempted willful destruction of wildlife," which is a felony.

The story could go on and on with all of the ways the truth was twisted in his case. I want everyone to know there was an outpouring of letters sent to Colorado from our community, explaining that these men were honest, hardworking, outstanding citizens with squeaky clean records. Criminals were not done justice in this case. Two respectable citizens were done a tremendous injustice.

This is only written to present another side to the article written July 15. In spite of all the events, my respect does remain for all men involved in Wildlife Management. We need men to uphold these positions in each community. Thank you for the job you signed up to do, but please pay more attention to the real criminals out there. Know when to admit a mistake and let it go.

I ask that Colorado and Wyoming citizens not hold a grudge against hunters from Arkansas. We absolutely love your state and respect the beauty that so many may take for granted. Unfortunately, my friends, family or community will not be back there because of the way Ben and Bradley were treated.

We have definitely passed on the word that if out-of-towners go there, it is in everyone's best interest to use a guide. The land is confusing and maps do not always coordinate as you may think. God bless.

Mollie Newton

Hampton, Arkansas

Comments

cantstandtexans 6 years, 5 months ago

The story was twisted eh??!!! Oh..that's it!! You husband and his...PALS...were simply set up and poor guys....they had squeaky clean records eh? Don't make me throw up lady!! If it were left up to me..."YOUR" husband and his pardners in crime would have been sent to the firing squat!! Next time he decides to break laws...I'm gonna guess it won't be here in Colorado!! I'm gonna suppose that every shred of evidence against these 6 dudes must have been committed by others that just happened to be hunting in the wrong GMU with the wrong tags and without any knowledge that they just happened to have strayed into the wrong GMU and/or onto private property!!. Bah bah bah bah....Poor guys....they were innnocent....UNTIL THEY "WERE" PROVED GUILTY!! And by the way...the BLM maps are Not confusing. It's extremely easy to figure out where you hunt and where you need to be. I have seen far too many out of state hunters doing whatever is possible so they can fill their tags!! Yes...I have watched them!!! I know of others who has seen unethical activities by non-Colorado hunters and Colorado Hunters as well!! It's not about the kill lady!! It's about see and being in a more natural area. Killing a animal is easy. JUST FOLLOW THE RULES!! Which according to the LAW...your husband and his Pals did not!!

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Blondi 6 years, 5 months ago

Your letter leaves a lot of unanswered questions. You state that everything was twisted to make the citizens of Colorado feel pride in the DOW and justice system for getting criminals off their territory. Let me quickly assure you that while yes, it is important to keep criminals off our territory, there are many DOW guys that we are proud of and then there are others who are so stupid and incompetent that one can only feel contempt and embarrassment for them. You will also take note that there are a great many folks in Moffat County who are not happy with the judicial system here, so your argument is not going to stand up. Your letter is full of excuses.

I'm confused. Does tagging a deer while tied to a tree actually keep coyotes from getting it? And retrieving it within the hour makes for "attempted willful destruction of wildlife," ? ? ? I'm not getting the whole picture here.

If I can read a BLM map, anyone can. They are not that hard to figure out. In Colorado it is your responsibility to know where you are and make no mistakes about it. You also state "there was an outpouring of letters sent to Colorado from our community, explaining that these men were honest, hardworking, outstanding citizens with squeaky clean records." Yet in one of the forums in this newspaper, there is someone from your community who calls herself the Queen and says that your community of one red light is really being hurtful and talking about your husband and his friends and that they will continue to do so for a long time. You are who you are and you are known by the friends you keep. Perhaps your husband should seek out new friends.

I'm very sorry that your husband got hurt when his ATV rolled off the mountain, but I'm not sorry they all got caught.

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Cole White 6 years, 5 months ago

Iggnorance is no defense. If you don't know where you are at or have never hunted an area.....if there is any question as to whether you are taking something illegally, then DON'T shoot it. "gee I didn't know" would cover my but so why should it cover yours. I've hunted with people in the South and deer are like rabbits down there and people shoot what ever they want. Well it doesn't work that way out here.... IF you can't follow the laws, if you can't understand the rules, then STAY HOME.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

four counts of hunting without liscences? thats a mistake? Bragging to other hunters about your misdeeds thats a mistake? hunting on private property and hiding the antlers so you could retreive them later is a mistake? claim innocence all you want, they are not innocent and now they have been found guilty so they are not allowed to hunt here anymore. Yeah they really sound innocent to me. stay home.

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lonelyone 6 years, 5 months ago

Ms. Newton, I just read your letter and I can understand many of the things you mention. I'm not saying your husband and friend are not without blame. But I have heard some of these same comments from other hunters. It IS their responsibility to know where they are hunting and if they are in the right area. As far as the Justice system goes, I've heard so many times that things get drug out for such a long time that you finally just throw your hands in the air and say book me! And let me assure you that it doesn't matter if it is a hunting matter or drugs or anything else, it can take forever for the courts to get things taken care of. I don't think there is such a thing anymore as a speedy trial. We also live in a small town........we do have more then one red light tho, but it's still a small town and we know how these things can haunt you for a long time. If you and your husband and his friend really believe they did nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hang your head over and that goes for his Mother too. We may not totally agree with you, but that's ok too.

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

Just talked this over with my husband, who hunted for many years. He always carried a map with him and if he was stopped, ask the DOW officer to mark his map where the DOW thought he was. He said they won't do it. That being said, it is always the hunter's responsibility to know where he is. If he wasn't sure, then he broke the law. It may not seem fair, and I know it is easy to get turned around out there, but it is ALWAYS the hunters responsibility to know his area and where he is in it.

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mnewton_ark 6 years, 5 months ago

grannyrett...you are totally correct. I never had a problem paying fines for hunting in the wrong unit b/c I agree that they should have known where they were. All I wanted people to know is that the DOWs honestly made up a list of over 22 misdemeaners and 3 felony charges when this first started. It was absolutely rediculous to read the things that they wanted to charge William with for this. He feels awful for making such a horrible mistake of thinking the guys he was with knew exactly how to get around that mountain. We were always willing to pay for the honest mistake that he made, but not the rest of stack that were completely untrue. I am not going to even read this stuff anymore, because it upsets me so much. My only intention was to explain the other side of this story. Maybe I did not do that great of a job, but now I don't think it would've made a difference anyway. I think people feel better believing the lies, so that's okay. I just hope no one else has to go through what we have been through financially, mentally, or spiritually. Have a wonderful week and God Bless!

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

Mollie---Stay tuned and see what happens to the local boys that killed over 70 elk this last winter. I'll bet that is going to get real ugly before it's all over and done with.

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lonelyone 6 years, 5 months ago

Do you really think so Granny? It's been some time now and we've not heard much about them since it first started. I hope they (our local hunters) are punished to the full extent of the law, but I want this made public so Molly and her family and friends know that it's not just the out of staters that are being punished. Boy that would have a terrible affect on our hunting or so I think. Take care Mollie.

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm with you on the locals, lonelyone. I hope they throw the book at them. Anyone that charges that much to hunt on his property ought to feed the darn things. You can bet they don't chase them off during hunting season. Rodney depends on them for income, but when it comes time to pay the piper, he sure gets mighty stingy. The wheels of justice grind slowly. It's going to take time, but I am sure hoping they get theirs!

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