Hunter sues over alleged fraudulent big-game hunt

Poor baby, imagine his mental distress, anxiety and loss of sleep from not receiving the right head in the mail…

Rick Vukasin is demanding reimbursement or else the original argali horns, but he said a possible exchange is complicated by international treaties governing hunting of the rare sheep, a threatened species in Tajikistan.


The Associated Press

 This December 2012 photo shows Vukasin, 65, of Great Falls, Mont., posing with a rare argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo” that he shot in the Pamir Mountains.
Enlarge this photoThis December 2012 photo shows Vukasin, 65, of Great Falls, Mont., posing with a rare argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo” that he shot in the Pamir Mountains.

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                You travel around the world, to shoot an endanger species, and expect sympathy? What…                (February 15, 2014, by more important things)                                                        
                A good example of someone who deserves to get ripped off.                (February 15, 2014,                     
                What kind of a person would kill endangered animals for just a trophy? How infantile…                (February 15, 2014,                                                          

RENO, Nev. — A big-game hunter from Montana is suing a Canadian outfitter and a renowned hunting guide in Tajikistan he accuses of turning his once-in-a-lifetime adventure of bagging a rare, wild argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo” into a nightmare.

Rick Vukasin, 65, said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Reno last week that he spent more than $50,000 pursuing the animal in the Pamir Mountains of northeast Tajikistan near China’s border in December 2012.

The electrician said he felt like he was literally on top of the world after he tracked, shot and killed a 400-pound, big-horned ram with the coveted, spiraling horns at an elevation of 14,000 feet. But he was mortified two months later, when he opened the box shipped to his home in Great Falls to find the horns were not the 58-inch-long ones from his trophy animal.

“I could tell right away,” Vukasin said. “I was sick.”

The native Montanan who grew up hunting deer on the eastern front of the Northern Rockies had stalked moose in Saskatchewan and red stag elk in New Zealand.

“But the thing I really wanted to do was a Marco Polo sheep hunt,” he said. He pored over books, guides and websites before settling on the excursion halfway around the world.

“The biggest of the species is in Tajikistan. So I figured if I was only going to be able to do this once, I’m going top shelf,” he said.

Vukasin and his guide, Yuri Matison, saw animals the first day but had difficulty tracking them, partly because it’s hard to breathe at that altitude, he said. But the next day he said he “felt lucky” to land a prize with a rack in “pretty good shape … not all busted up from fighting.”

The horns he ended up with are missing a few noticeable chips and weathered to the point he suspects they are at least 2 years old.

Vukasin said Matison and the booking outfitter — Ameri-Cana Expeditions of Edmonton, Alberta — first insisted the horns were the originals and then offered to send a replacement.

Vukasin is demanding reimbursement or his original horns, but he said a possible exchange is complicated by international treaties governing hunting of argali, a threatened species in Tajikistan. Only 60 permits are issued there annually for the sheep named after the 13th-century explorer.

The Safari Club International considers the argali’s horns the “most spectacular” of all the world’s sheep, according to its record book.

Vukasin said Ameri-Cana co-owner Dan Frederick dismissed his concerns, telling him “It’s just hunting.”

“Granted,” Vukasin said, “you can have bad weather or you might not see any animals or you might miss the shot. That’s hunting.

“But to shoot the animal and take pictures of it and then not to get it, somebody has to be responsible.”

Frederick didn’t return calls or email seeking comment. The Associated Press was unable to locate Matison.

Vukasin said he contacted an FBI agent in Great Falls, Mont., who indicated he probably was a fraud victim but there was little authorities could do unless they found a number of other hunters who’d also been duped.

FBI spokesman William Facer in Salt Lake City said Friday the agency could not comment.

Linda Linton, a Reno lawyer, said she filed Vukasin’s lawsuit there because Matison and Ameri-Cana advertise and do business there regularly at conventions of the Safari Club International and the Wild Sheep Foundation, the latter of which named Matison to its Mountain Hunter Hall of Fame in 2009.

Vukasin is seeking $75,000 in damages for lost money, “worry, anxiety, loss of sleep, physical and mental distress.”

“I’ve been fighting them more than a year. I finally got fed up and decided to do something about it,” he said, adding he’s convinced others have been victimized. “I have this stuff sitting in my living room and every time I look at the horns, I just get that much more mad.”

Bill promoting hunting, fishing passes U.S. House

By Dave Golowenski For The Columbus Dispatch
Sunday February 9, 2014

A divergent range of sportsmen’s groups commended the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE) last week.

The package of eight bills represented by SHARE would promote hunting and fishing on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and make the purchase of a federal duck stamp easier. Among the act’s authors is Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green).

Groups including Safari Club International, the National Rifle Association and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership praised the bill and urged the Senate to follow the House’s bipartisan approval.

Meanwhile, a measure that would raise the price of a federal duck stamp to $25 from the current $15 moved out of a Senate committee last week. Revenues generated by the stamp help fund wetlands conservation.

No bump in price has occurred since 1991, the longest period without an increase since the program was established during the 1930s.

Honked off

A Mississippi hunter is reporting he got his 8-point buck after he blew his nose. The sound apparently ticked off the buck, which came running toward the hunter’s stand in full attack mode.–house.html


The Guns of Mid-Winter

When I wrote my book, Exposing the Big Game, its subtitle, Living Targets of a Dying Sport, was appropriate. But like so many things in this rapidly changing world, by the time the book came out, that subtitle was becoming obsolete. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the sport of blasting birds, murdering deer, culling coyotes and plunking at prairie dogs—in a word, hunting—is seeing a seemingly inexplicable resurgence.

Lately we’re seeing longer hunting seasons on everything from elk to geese to wolves, with more new or expanded “specialty” hunts like archery, crossbow, spear (and probably soon, poison blow gun) in states across the country, than at any time in recent memory. Meanwhile, more Americans are taking up arms against the animals and wearing so much camo—the full-time fashion statement of the cruel and unusual—that it’s starting to look ordinary and even, yuppified.

So, when did cruel become the new cool and evil the new everyday? Are the recruiting efforts of the Safari Club and the NRA finally striking a cord? Did the staged “reality” show “Survivor” lead to the absurdly popular thespian cable spin-offs like, “Call of the Wildman,” “Duck Dynasty” and a nasty host of others? Is “art” imitating life, or is life imitating “art?” Did the author of the Time Magazine article, “America’s Pest Problem: It’s Time to Cull the Herd,” ratchet up the call for even more animal extermination?

Whatever the reason, I don’t remember ever hearing so many shotguns and rifles blasting away during the last week of January. By the sound of the gunfire, coupled with the unseasonably dry and warm weather here in the Pacific Northwest, you’d swear it was early autumn.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2014. All Rights Reserved

Dallas Safari Club Lauds Obama Admin Decision on Antelope–Becomes-Law–DSC-Lauds-Move-for-Rare-Species?instance=home_news_bullets

Three Amigos’ Becomes Law; DSC Lauds Move for Rare Species

WASHINGTON (Jan. 21, 2014)—President Obama has signed into law the 2014 Omnibus Bill, which includes a Dallas Safari Club (DSC)-backed provision to ensure the future of three antelope species nearly extinct in their native countries but flourishing on ranches in Texas.

The “Three Amigos” provision, for which DSC has lobbied over the past several years, exempts U.S. populations of scimitar horned oryx, Dama gazelle and addax from Endangered Species Act protections. The exemptions clear the way for ranchers to maintain herds of these exotic game animals and to offer hunts without federal intervention. Hunting revenue incentivizes ranchers to ensure that populations will continue to thrive.

Author of the provision, Rep. John Carter (R-TX-31), said, “This legislation gets big government out of the way so that ranchers can begin working to bring these rare antelope populations back to former levels. This has been a long time in coming, but we got it done.”

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX-32) and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA-42) also were key supporters.

“I’m pleased that the House and Senate were able to reach an agreement that allows American sportsmen to continue conserving the ‘Three Amigos,’” said Sessions. “Despite the onerous and unnecessary federal regulations that have recently threatened the ongoing work to preserve the existence of these endangered antelope, this Omnibus Bill takes important steps to protect the ‘Three Amigos’ and preserve a rich sporting heritage.”

The antelope were exempt from the Endangered Species Act from 2005 until 2012. During that time, populations experienced dramatic growth in the U.S. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was forced to remove the exemptions due to legal action that prompted a cumbersome and lengthy permitting process, all of which led to a dramatic population decreases. For example, scimitar horned oryx numbers in Texas are now at nearly half of 2010 levels.

“We’re very grateful to Congressman Carter for offering ‘Three Amigos’ legislation, and to Congressman Pete Sessions and Senator John Cornyn for insisting that it be part of the Omnibus Bill. This conservation measure wouldn’t have happened without their dedicated leadership. Senator Cornyn also played a big role behind the scenes in securing Senate support for this specific legislative fix,” said Ben Carter, DSC executive director. “Thanks to our DSC team and the Exotic Wildlife Association (EWA) reps in Washington for helping to make this happen.”

Organizations partnering with DSC on this legislation include the EWA, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Rifle Association, Safari Club International and North American Deer Farmer’s Association. DSC’s Washington representative Glenn LeMunyon and EWA’s Liz Williams and John Blount also played vital roles in the process.

About Dallas Safari Club (DSC)

Desert bighorns on an unbroken landscape, stalking Cape buffalo in heavy brush, students discovering conservation. DSC works to guarantee a future for all these and much more. An independent organization since 1982, DSC has become an international leader in conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters worldwide.

Read more: The Gilmer Mirror – Three Amigos Becomes Law DSC Lauds Move for Rare Species

It’s Terrible About Those Death Threats

I don’t know who is sending would-be rhino Corey Knowlton all those death threats we keep hearing about, but I think it’s just terrible.

It’s terrible they waited until after he’d killed all those other 120 species—from every continent—that line the walls of his trophy1613918_577895065613412_412557772_n room. Too bad they held off until he had a chance to murder one of every species of wild sheep in existence, for instance. It’s a shame the 35 year old lived long enough to become the co-host of a hunting show on The Outdoor Channel which extols the virtues of snuffing out wildlife and encourages animal assassination in the name of sport.

It’s an absolute tragedy they waited until he won last week’s Dallas Safari Club auction to hunt a black rhino in Namibia. Now, unless the threats are in fact serious and carried out in the coming weeks, he will get the chance to destroy yet another undeserving sentient being in the name of ego, selfishness, arrogance and hedonism.

For those not keen on lethal action, here are 3 things you can do to help:

3) FB page with USFWS contact info and sample letter for writing to ask them to deny permit:


“Endangered” Hunter Auctioned off to Save Species

Believing the spin that “hunters are an endangered species,” trophy-hunter hunting group, the Sahara Club, a conservation group dedicated to preserving the hunter herd for future generations of trophy-hunter hunters to harvest, auctioned off asuccessful anti-hunt chance to hunt an aging, expendable hunter to raise funds for their cause. Taxidermy services will also be awarded to the winning bidder. Proceeds will be used to enhance hunter habitat for the species known taxonomically as Homo huntsman horribilis and will go towards funding more logging roads to allow access for their trucks and four-wheelers, as well as building more conveniently located gas station/mini-marts, taverns and mobile home parks.

Biologists blame a long history of inbreeding for the decline in hunter fertility and viability. When asked about the ethics of hunting down and killing this unfortunate individual, a Sahara Club spokesman stated, “Overall I think it will be a good thing. While it may bad for this individual hunter, it is in the interest of conservation of the hunter species.” If the auction idea proves to be a success, the group plans to hold similar events for loggers, ranchers, commercial fishermen and other resource extractors also said to be endangered species by industry spin doctors.

Individuals chosen to be hunted down and harvested can thank the Safari Club for recently coming up with the idea of auctioning a rhino trophy hunt on an endangered black rhinoceros.


(This has been another installment in EtBG’s “Headlines We’d Like to See.”)


Black Rhino Auctioned for $350K in the Name of Conservation


by Marc Bekoff

Should we kill in the name of conservation? Individual animals are not disposable commodities

We live in a troubled and wounded world in which humans continue to dominate and to relentlessly kill numerous nonhuman animals (animals).

A Texas hunting club recently auctioned off an endangered black rhino purportedly to save other black rhinos and their homes in Namibia. The Dallas Safari Club says, “Namibian wildlife officials will accompany the auction winner through Mangetti National Park where the hunt will occur, ‘to ensure the correct type of animal is taken.’” This is not a very comforting thought.

This sale, in which an animal is objectified and treated like a disposable commodity, raises many questions about how we try to save other species. One major question is, “Should we kill in the name of conservation?” People disagree on what is permissible and what is not. My take and that of compassionate conservation is this is not an acceptable trade-off. (Please see “Ignoring Nature No More: Compassionate Conservation at Work”, Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation, and a Forbes interview for more on compassionate conservation.) The life of every individual matters.

The world is in dire need of healing and we must revise some of the ways in which we attempt to coexist with other animals. Some of these methods center on heinous ways of killing them “in the name of conservation” or “to foster coexistence”. Compassionate conservation stresses that the life of every individual matters and trading off an individual for the good of their own or another species is not an acceptable way to save species. And, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that it works in any significant way.

Black rhinos do indeed find themselves trying to avoid humans out to kill them, but in Namibia only 10 rhinos have been killed since 2006. Of course, this is 10 too many, but far fewer than have been killed in neighboring South Africa where around 1000 were killed in 2012 alone.

“To destroy nature is not to conserve nature. To mount the head of a wild animal in your trophy room is not conservation, it is repugnant.”

The above quotation comes from an essay in called “Must conservation of wildlife including killing wildlife”. It was based on a 60 Minutes report titled “Hunting animals to save them?” While it dealt with wildlife ranches in Texas where people can pay a small fortune to kill various animals in canned hunts, it does raise important questions about killing in the name of conservation. Some other valuable snippets worth deep consideration include:

“If we want to conserve a population of, for instance, people native to a particular section of our country, would we kill a few to conserve the others? Isn’t that saying the group is more important than the individual? Isn’t it saying the individual gives up his or her rights to life because he or she belongs to a particular group, a particular species?”

“Each life—human animal and nonhuman animal—is an individual with an individual personality. Take a group of purebred puppies, for example—they may all look the same but they aren’t. They are their own individual beings with individual traits and personalities. Wildlife are individuals with their own individual traits and personalities. To say one is more deserving to live than another, in the name of conservation, bastardizes the word.”

Killing animals to save others sets a bad example and a regrettable precedent and is not the way to foster peaceful coexistence. When people say they kill animals because they love them this makes me feel very uneasy. I’m glad they don’t love me.

Cruelty can’t stand the spotlight and it is important that news about the sorts of activities discussed above be widely disseminated and openly discussed. That major media is covering them is a step in the right direction.

Bob Barker Says Dallas Safari Club’s Black Rhino Auction Is A ‘Cheap Thrill’


Credit The Price Is Right/Facebook
Bob Barker recently returned to “The Price Is Right” to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Bob Barker, the legendary game show host, has chimed in on the Dallas Safari Club’s black rhino auction that’s taking place this weekend. He wants the club to call off the event.

The club hopes to raise as much as $1 million to protect the rare black rhino by auctioning off the right to hunt one. But the auction has kicked up international controversy. Club members have been receiving death threats, and the FBI is investigating. (Update: On Saturday, the rhino hunt permit was sold for $350,000, the Associated Press reported.)

Friday afternoon, PETA released a letter from Barker, who hosted “The Price is Right” for 35 years. He’s also an animal rights advocate. (You remember his classic sign-off, right?: “Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”)

The rhino to be hunted is an old bull that’s past the point of helping sustain the herd. This is the sixth such auction in Namibia, but the first to be held outside the country. The Dallas Safari Club says 100 percent of the money raised will go toward conservation efforts.

But in his letter, Barker says it is “presumptuous to assume that this rhino’s life is no longer of any value.”

“The rhino that your organization reportedly has in its crosshairs is an older ‘non-breeding’ male who has apparently been deemed expendable,” Barker wrote. “As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like a rather harsh way of dealing with senior citizens.”

Barker continues:

“Just because you’re ‘retired’ doesn’t mean you don’t have anything more to offer. In fact, I personally feel that I’ve accomplished a great deal since I quit my day job. Surely, it is presumptuous to assume that this rhino’s life is no longer of any value. What of the wisdom that he has acquired over the course of a long life? What’s the world coming to when a lifetime’s experience is considered a liability instead of an asset?

The Safari Club’s executive director, Ben Carter, recently spoke with KERA about his group’s efforts. Listen to that conversation here.

Here’s Barker’s full letter, provided by PETA:

I am writing to ask you to call off your planned auction of a chance to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. The rhino that your organization reportedly has in its crosshairs is an older “non-breeding” male who has apparently been deemed expendable. As an older male myself, I must say that this seems like a rather harsh way of dealing with senior citizens.

I can certainly sympathize with this animal’s plight (and I would think that many of your older members could as well). How many seniors have been written off simply because they have a certain number of birthdays under their belts? But just because you’re “retired” doesn’t mean you don’t have anything more to offer. In fact, I personally feel that I’ve accomplished a great deal since I quit my day job. Surely, it is presumptuous to assume that this rhino’s life is no longer of any value. What of the wisdom that he has acquired over the course of a long life? What’s the world coming to when a lifetime’s experience is considered a liability instead of an asset?

There are only about 5,000 black rhinos still alive in Africa. What kind of message does it send when we put a $1 million bounty on one of their heads? These animals are endangered for that very reason: money. What makes you any better than the poachers who kill rhinos to feed their families? At least, they are honest about their less noble motives. You try to dress up greed under the guise of “conservation.”

True conservationists are those who pay money to keep rhinos alive—in the form of highly lucrative eco-tourism—as opposed to those who pay money for the cheap thrill of taking this magnificent animal’s life and putting his head on a wall.

If you want someone’s head to go on a wall, pick mine. I will happily send you an autographed photo to auction off instead. My mug may not fetch as much money as that of a dead rhino, but at least we’ll all live to enjoy another sunrise in our sunset years.


Bob Barker

MT Sentators Host “Sportsmen’s” Town Hall

Bitterroot Valley legislators to host sportsmen’s town hall on regulation changes

HAMILTON – Two Ravalli County state senators will host a sportsmen’s town hall meeting this week on proposed changes to hunting in the Bitterroot Valley.

The meeting will be held at the Bitterroot River Inn in Hamilton on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, and Sen. Scott Boulanger, R-Darby, will host the event.

The purpose of the meeting is to allow sportsmen to offer ideas, comments and concerns about proposed changes to the local hunting regulations, including requiring all hunters to obtain an unlimited permit to hunt elk in three of the four districts in the valley.

Other topics will include the youth cow elk season, whitetail doe seasons, hunting district boundary changes, anti-trapping initiatives and wolves.

Guest speakers include Keith Kubista of the Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, who will address the anti-trapping ballot initiative.

Safari Club Regional Representative Jon Wemple will talk about the loss of elk hunting opportunity under the

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

proposed valleywide permit system.

……Meanwhile in Oklahoma……

local OKC hunting news:

Oklahoma deer hunters have a final opportunity to take firearm into the woods
when the 10-day holiday antlerless gun season opens Saturday in most
of the state.
Deer taken during the antlerless season are not included in the hunter’s combined season limit.
Okla. state wildlife officials encourage a high doe harvest to reduce overpopulation and improve buck-doe ratio for a more healthy deer herd.

Archery deer season continues thru Jan. 15th statewide.

The Washita National Wildlife Refuge, which is located west of Butler, Okla., still has duck blinds available for three midweek hunts this season.
This refuge offers some of the best goose hunting in the state.
All the weekend dates have been filled. However, the midweek hunts are still available.

Safari Club A-Holes Auction Permit to Kill a Rhino

[And finally, this article, the last of today's series on anti-animal A-holes (brought to you by good folks at "Ammoland"), needs no introduction...]


Rhino Permit to be Auctioned at Dallas Safari Club Convention
Published on Friday, October 11, 2013

DALLAS, TX - -( —Through an historic collaboration between  governments, one hunter will have a chance to hunt a black rhino, help manage  and conserve the species, and import a rare trophy to the US in 2014.

The Dallas Safari Club (DSC) has been selected by the Government of the  Republic of Namibia to auction a special hunting permit with all proceeds  earmarked for rhino conservation in that country.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has promised full cooperation with a  qualified buyer.

DSC will sell the permit during its annual convention and expo Jan. 9-12 in  Dallas.

An unprecedented sale price is expected.

“This fundraiser is the first of its kind for an endangered species,” said  DSC Executive Director Ben Carter, “and it’s going to generate a sum of money  large enough to be enormously meaningful in Namibia’s fight to ensure the future  of its black rhino populations.”

The Government of the Republic of Namibia approved the permit in accordance  with CITES provisions to generate crucial funding for rhino conservation  initiatives including anti-poaching efforts—while at the same time managing the  black rhino population within Mangetti National Park, where the hunt will take  place.

Science has shown that removing certain individual animals can help rhino  populations grow.

Black rhinos commonly fight to the death. In fact, the species has the  highest combat mortality rates of any mammal. Approximately 50 percent of males  and 30 percent of females die from combat-related injuries. Extremely aggressive  bulls are known to be population-limiting factors in some areas. Selectively  harvesting these animals can lead to population increases and greater  survival. [This is total b.s., by the way. Don't these people have any faith in nature whatsoever?]

Rampant and indiscriminate poaching is threatening rhino populations across  Africa. Rhino horn has high black-market value, especially in Southeast Asia,  for ornamental uses and folk remedies, although medical research has disproved  actual benefits.

The Conservation Trust Fund for Namibia’s Black Rhino will receive 100  percent of the hunting permit sale price. Both DSC and contracted auctioneer Ed  Phillips of Houston offered to forego their customary sales commissions to  support the special cause.

Louisiana conservation attorney John J. Jackson, III, helped facilitate the  auction item and proceeds will be channeled through his Conservation Force, a  501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, for income tax deduction purposes.

The winning bidder may hire his or her qualified outfitter or guide to lead  the hunt, which will be accompanied by Namibian wildlife officials.

About Dallas Safari Club (DSC) Desert bighorns on an  unbroken landscape, stalking Cape buffalo in heavy brush, students discovering  conservation. DSC works to guarantee a future for all these and much more. An  independent organization since 1982, DSC has become an international leader in  conserving wildlife and wilderness lands, educating youth and the general  public, and promoting and protecting the rights and interests of hunters  worldwide. Get involved at

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