Here’s One List You Don’t Want To Make

The past three or four days have been interesting, to say the least.   On the final day of my most recent fishing trip I called home to learn that a storm inflicting damage on a portion of southern Minnesota indeed personally touched my life.   The damage was due to hail, roughly the size of a baseball, pummeling my farm and resulting in damage to all of the buildings and any vehicles that were left outside.

Of particular disappointment was to my house which loyal blog readers will know is new after last summer.   In fact, it wasn’t until last October when I finally moved into the new house after a long summer during 2005 of construction and related headaches.   Now, the house is totaled (on the outside) requiring a new roof, all new siding and gutters after only about 10 months since they were first put on.   Yea, kind of a bummer, if you don’t mind me saying so.

After last summer making one of the worst decisions in my life by hiring the wrong building contractor to complete my housing project, I vowed never again to make the mistake of failing to check out the business aptitude as well as the overall ability of a contractor to treat me fair and to complete the job right.   Indeed, I’ve learned a lesson the hard way that the decisions you make in choosing a building contractor are results that you must live with for many years — literally!

Not being one to dwell on those past mistakes, I thought this time around I am going to more thoroughly check out any skilled labor that I might ultimately choose to work on my now new house project.   The storm, you might say, has given me another chance to this time make the right choices in finding the ideal people to best serve my housing interests.   So you begin by talking to friends and asking around…you know, everybody seems to have ideas on who you should use to get the job done.

So two days ago, on the recommendation of a friend, this contractor shows up looking to bid on my project and prove his worthiness.   I must admit I’m leery…even downright skeptical whether or not he’s the right choice.   Then we strike up a conversation about hunting.   Seems he’s a big hunter…loves to hunt.   In fact, he told me he could not wait to get home that day just to spend some time outside shooting the bow.   Slowly I’m warming up to the guy…figure he’s one of us.   Hell, I’d much rather do business with a sportsman who shares similar outdoor interests as I do.   I figure…somebody who connects in such a manner with me is bound to treat me fair as one would only expect from another outdoors brother.

Well…I was wrong.   Just when I was about to give the guy the benefit of the doubt I discovered a dark little secret about his past.   A secret that I must say absolutely killed the deal.   I typed his name and home-town into Google and this little secret practically jumped out at me…begging me to take heed.   You see, what I had found was this new prospective building contractor on a dirty list kept by several different state game agencies.   On this particular list from my home state of Minnesota I found the name of the contractor hoping to do work on my house.   That’s right, a big-game law violator who still has several more years of suspension on his hunting privileges.   In other words, in Minnesota, as well as in several cooperating states, this guy cannot legally hunt big game this season or for several more seasons to come.   His past actions and subsequent court conviction is right there in plain sight for the public to view.

Now quite honestly up until that point I did not know such a list even existed.   What a great tool.   Here I am doing a Google search (the poor man’s background check) on a name and address when I find the list of fish and game violators…and that’s how it should be.   Our fish and game law violators who have lost their privileges because of their flagrant actions should be identified for public scrutiny.   When your name inauspiciously lands on such a list it should become fodder for folks attempting to decipher your character.

Needless to say this guy’s business card got promptly tossed in the waste can upon learning of his game conviction.   Quite frankly I didn’t need to research any further…if you hold yourself out to me as a sportsman and the records clearly show something different…all credibility is instantly gone.   Kaput!

But what still concerns me is this guy’s remark that he had to go home to practice with his bow.   Is he planning to hunt this fall?   Is he perhaps planning to illegally hunt in Minnesota or one of the other states that also recognizes his suspended big game license?   Suddenly my interest in the contractor rests more on his upcoming hunting adventures rather than any work he might be expecting to do on my house.

Certainly he doesn’t know I’ve seen his name on the game violator list.   He doesn’t realize his chances to do any work for me have all but disappeared thanks to his apparent poor behavior afield.   He also doesn’t know I will do whatever is necessary to cooperate with his local conservation officer should I learn of any future illegal plans from our next conversation.

Yup, I’ve learned that choosing the wrong construction contractor can be a big headache if the necessary care isn’t used to filter out the “bad eggs” found throughout the profession.   Conversely, it might soon become a learning lesson for one particular contractor who has a demonstrated history of past game violations if it turns out he didn’t use greater care in choosing the right potential customer.   Truth is…if a person holds themselves out to me as a sportsman then their actions better reinforce the words…or this time they just might end up being the ones to pay the consequences.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.

What The Hell Was He Thinking?

The behavior exhibited by some people never ceases to amaze me.   Yet often this same behavior has a tendency to down-right disgust me.   Especially because to the general public this sort of negative press is often attributed to being a “hunter” and the sport of hunting, not to some criminal act totally separate from our beloved traditions.   Again, we’re all given a black-eye because one of our own falls miserably short when it comes to using good judgment and discretion in their behavior.

I’m talking about the recent indictment of country music artist Troy Gentry.   Allegedly he is accused of purchasing a tame black bear that federal officials are claiming he shot with a bow inside an enclosed pen.   Supposedly he paid $4,650 for a bear known as “Cubby” to use while he taped a mock wild black bear kill here in Minnesota back in fall 2004.   I’m reading that the bear’s death was videotaped and subsequently edited to make it look like he killed it in a “fair chase” hunting situation.   Supposedly he even registered the kill with the MN DNR as if it were wild in an effort to further this shameful ruse.Troygentry

If convicted the country singer, as well as the game farm owner of the bear, could face stiff federal charges.   Gentry on conspiracy to falsely label an animal and the game farm operator on separate charges.   In fact, both could face fines up to $20,000 plus a maximum of 5 years in prison for their respective actions in this little stunt.

Now if I were the judge and they were found guilty…I would be inclined to give them both the maximum penalty because they obviously both are too damn dumb to know how to sensibly act.   I doubt either one of them understood the gravity of what they were doing.

Problem is common sense does not always play a big role in directing the lives of some people.   Pure greed and the intense desire to be seen as a success among peers will drive men that should know much better to do some really stupid acts.   First, take the owner of the bear…if you have a pet animal that presumably you are licensed to keep, how can you sell a pet when you must know the nefarious fate it will eventually have?   I guess money has power and intoxicates the sensibilities…how else do you excuse it?   Now take the country singer who has even more at stake — namely his reputation.   Why would he even take the risk of possibly being publicly exposed as a complete fraud?   If convicted he should forever live with the fact the public will see he is a real phony…stripped of any past sportsman accomplishments because now they would all be suspect.   Hell, in my book he could have been caught with a street hooker and eventually he might have walked away from that incident salvaging some of his reputation.   But not now, not if he is convicted of this violation.   Never again should the title of sportsman be in any way associated with his name.

And folks that’s how it ought to be.   If the details turn out to be true then apparently Mr. Gentry was under an extreme amount of pressure for the public to see him succeed as a hunter.   In the end, all he likely proved was the fact he is a moron lacking a conscience.   The sporting community should stand up and ostracize folks like this to never allow them back into our circles.   Much like a convicted sex offender has lost all credibility and trustworthiness around kids…is it really much different for someone who purports to be a hunter and sportsman when their behavior has been proven to stoop this low?   Seriously, criminals (which is a better term than “hunter” in this case) like this should not be allowed ever again to hold a hunting license…anywhere…period…end of story.

Of course, the likes of defendants such as Gentry will probably claim they were “framed” and the alleged events didn’t happen at all like what is being reported.   Yet, I really don’t feel sorry for him.   Fact is, he had a video camera rolling that probably served as the biggest piece of evidence against him.   I don’t know that for certain, but it’s just a strong hunch I have.   Sometimes when the tape is rolling people will do strange and outrageous things for the camera.   Of course, it’s one thing to tape events of a hunt as they actually happened, yet another thing to turn it into a Hollywood production by fabricating all the important details.

Personally, I’m not into country music so I wouldn’t be very inclined to listen to this poor excuse for a so-called sportsman/singer anyway.   But if I did enjoy that genre of music I would now be very inclined to be voting with my pocketbook and never purchase any of his music again.   Besides, why patronize an artist who federal officials are attempting to prove makes poor decisions on spending his money anyway?

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Penn & Teller Shoot Down The Gun Control Myth

If you read my blog last month you’ll know that Penn & Teller do a wonderful “tell-it-like-it-is” program called Bullshit! featured on cable TV’s SHOWTIME Station.   Last month they took on PETA.   This month the dynamic duo is back at it once again with another provocative video piece this time taking on the gun control fanatics.

No matter how you feel about the issue of guns and how they should be regulated, this highly-emotionally charged issue is not going away anytime soon.   It is so refreshing to see a pair of big name entertainers sticking their necks out to voice their opinion as being pro-gun.   Granted, almost the entire 28 minutes of this show is spent shooting holes in the argument that guns should be much more highly regulated.   And of course, only Penn & Teller can accomplish it in such an entertaining fashion.

Take a look at the video by linking HERE.

Be forewarned—the video is nearly a half hour long, will play best if you have a high-speed Internet connection, and does contain some rough language.   Aside from that, it’s well worth a look.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.