Injured hunter claims hog hunting helicopters flying through dangerous loophole

The “Pork Choppin’” law allows hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.


SAN ANTONIO – They called it the “pork choppin’” law when it passed a few years ago. It allowed hunters to legally shoot feral hogs from helicopters. Since then some hunters have paid thousands of dollars to go on the excursions.

Now a lawsuit filed by a Medina County man claims some operators are flying through a dangerous loophole.

Thomas Swan runs an organic farm in Devine. For him going on a helicopter hog hunt wasn’t just about the thrill of the experience.

“Being a farmer I get to see the true destruction of wild pigs. What a lot of people don’t understand is they actually are a problem,” Swan said.

Last September Swan and a friend were on a hog hunt near Burnet when the helicopter they had hired experienced engine failure. The pilot made a hard crash landing right in the lanes of Highway 281.

“The pilot said ‘hang on’ a half a second before we hit the ground,” Swan said.

Swan managed to escape injury for eight years as a Marine Sgt. in Afghanistan. He was sitting with his legs hanging out the door of the helicopter with his feet resting on the skids. The impact sent him spilling out onto the asphalt.

Swan says he suffered a badly broken ankle, broken tailbone and injured lower back.

“It’s probably the most painful thing I’ve experienced,” Swan said.

The crash is still being investigated by the NTSB, but Swan’s attorney, Ladd Sanger, who is a pilot himself, believes the chopper ran out of fuel. NTSB documents we obtained indicate the helicopter was operating with a Part 91 “General Aviation” certificate, not a Part 135 “Commercial Charter” certificate has tougher safety standards.

“That means that you have maintenance programs, that means you have FAA oversight, that means you have an operations manual, you have a chief pilot, you have a director of operations, you have training standards,” says Sanger.

Sanger claims many hog hunt operators are taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to fly up to six hunts a year with just a “General Aviation” certificate, if they stay within 25 miles of an airport and notify the FAA ahead of time.

He says the FAA needs to eliminate that loophole, or else more hunters will end up like Thomas Swan, whose injuries have made it difficult to continue farming.

“It was definitely a scary experience that’s for sure, the scariest experience I have ever been through,” Swan said.

We contacted the two companies that organized the trip, Heli Gunner and Lift Inc., neither had any comment. We spoke to other companies in the business who say before going on an aerial hunt you should ask if the operator has a Part 135 “Commercial Certificate.”


‘Poacher hunting big cats’ mauled to death by lions in South Africa

Poacher: It is thought the man was hunting lions when they mauled him to death
Poacher: It is thought the man was hunting lions when they mauled him to death AFP/Getty Images

Police are investigating if a man killed and eaten by a pride of lions at a private game reserve in South Africa was a poacher who had been hunting big cats.

His screams for help raised the alarm but the lions quickly killed the man and devoured most of his body before being chased off.

The head was left untouched and is the only means available to police of identifying the man who was carrying no documents.

It comes just months after poacher Luteni Muhararukua was charged and killed by a rhino he was hunting for its horn in nearby Namibia.

At first police thought the dead man was a tractor driver who worked at the game reserve but when he turned up alive realised it may be a poacher.

Killed: The lions quickly ate the man, leaving just his head (EPA/Dai Kurokawa)

A hunting rifle was found close to what was left of the blood drenched body which police believe belonged to the victim of the lions.

Police in Limpopo have called in the Department of Home Affairs to help them to try to find out who the dead man is.

Police Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said: “The person who who we first thought it was believed to be an employee who was driving a tractor.

“It was thought his tractor broke down and the lions got him as he walked back to the compound but he was found to be alive.

“The process of identifying this body has already commenced and it might be made easier as his head was amongst the remains found at the scene”.

Mr Ngoepe confirmed police were investigating the possibility the deceased might have been a poacher after a hunting rifle was found near the scene.

Lions kill up to 250 people a year in Africa and a male weighs 190kg and a female 130kg and they can ran at over 80kph and there are less than 20000 left in the wild in Africa.

Their bones are worth a small fortune in the Far East with a skeleton fetching up to £7000 and the skin £3000  teeth can fetch £500 each.

Their bones have become highly prized in the the Far East as tiger bones are becoming rarer and rear with their threat of extinction.

The lions attacked the suspected poacher at the Ingwelala Private Nature Reserve in Hoedspruit outside Phalaborwa.

The owner of the reserve, who identified himself as Josh, said he was told not to speak to the media because the police investigation was still under way.

A local worker, who works at a nearby nature reserve, described the area as lion territory and added:”The head was still there but the lions had eaten most of the rest.

“A scream was heard and the lions were scattered by the sound of gunshots but it was too late to do anything for him. He was eaten”.

Hunting fraternity gather to remember rider killed in fall from horse

Mr Graham, pictured in October
Mr Graham, pictured in October

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Huntsmen and women from Leicestershire and further afield gathered at the weekend to pay tribute to a 54-year-old member of the Fernie Hunt who died in a horse-riding accident last week.

William Graham, formerly of Lubenham, near Market Harborough, fell from his dark bay horse as he jumped a timber fence in fields between Saddington and Mowsley on Wednesday, January 31.

An inquest on the father-of-three’s death has been opened and adjourned.

Mr Graham, pictured in action last month
Mr Graham, pictured in action last month

On Saturday, people from the hunting fraternity gathered for a day’s hunting near Hallaton, in his memory.

Philip Cowen, joint-master of the Fernie Hunt, said: “Many people who are connected with hunting in Leicestershire and further afield came together for a special day’s hunting which was dedicated to Will.

“ There is an incredible bond which runs throughout those who are involved with the hunt, whether as riders, followers or supporters and the moving tributes on that day will last long in all our memories.

“Will was a true gentleman and we all owe him so much for a life which has been cut short far too soon.”

Mr Graham was a member of the Fernie Hunt (Image: Andrew Carpenter)

He added: “Will fell from his dark bay horse as he jumped a timber fence mid-way between Saddington and Mowsley. The horse was not injured in the fall.

“Although born in Scotland, Will had lived locally for many years. He leaves a wife, Lucy, and their nine-year-old daughter, with two older children from a previous marriage.

“Will’s tragic death whilst out hunting with the Fernie last week has stunned and shocked us all. Sadly, he died when his horse fell on top of him at a fence which has been jumped on numerous occasions previously, close to Saddington village.

“There are no words to describe such a devastating loss particularly for his family, but also a great many other people in the locality who knew him so well.

Mr Graham, pictured in October
Mr Graham, pictured in October

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to them all at such a sad time. Will was a constant source of energy, passion, enthusiasm and determination in whatever he turned his hand to – whether in his line of business, when on the sportsfield or when relaxing at home. His loss to our community is immeasurable.”

He added: “Will was an accomplished and very competent rider who has followed the Fernie hounds for about 15 years.

“He particularly enjoyed both the social side of the sport, and the excitement which can be provided in both jumping natural obstacles and watching the hounds as they use their scenting abilities to follow the lines of the trail across natural country and open farmland.”

Polly Portwin, of the Countryside Alliance said: “Will was a great supporter and representative of the Alliance and we extend our deepest sympathies to Lucy, their family and all those closest to them.”

Chris Parker, also a joint-master of the Fernie Hunt said: “Sadly Will lost his life whilst enjoying a sport that he loved, and to which he has been a huge contributor both directly and behind the scenes for many years.

“He was clearly enjoying himself on the day in question right up to the moment that this dreadful accident occurred.

“Words do not adequately convey our emotions, or the profound degree of sympathy which we all feel for his wife, daughter and their wider family.

“He will be greatly missed by all his friends in not only the hunting world, but from many other aspects of life as well. He was also a hugely successful businessman, and he particularly enjoyed skiing and sailing.”

The inquest on the Mayfair, London, based investment management company director was opened at Leicester Town Hall and was adjourned, pending reports until April 23.

Pet dog strangled in bobcat snare during family outing in SV

Sage with Stewart’s grandkids.

STAR VALLEY, WYO – It was last weekend. Christy Stewart was with family walking her dog up Wickiup Knoll Trail outside of Afton same as she’d done almost every day for the past four years. Her dog, a 3-year-old Pyrenees named “Sage,” practically grew up on that run.

On Sunday, Sage died on that trail.


Out of sight for just minutes, the dog caught a scent of fresh meat used to bait a bobcat snare. It didn’t take long. Sage suffocated, hung in a trap just 20 feet off the trail.

Afton Game Warden James Hobbs investigated the incident and reported the trap, baited using a cubby set, was legal. It was not signed in any way that Stewart noticed, and that was her main complaint.

“To me, it’s common sense of not setting a snare so close to a popular recreation sight that would have avoided this nightmare. We all have our rights but there has to be a better way of avoiding senseless injury or death. Warning signs of “TRAPPING IN AREA” would be a good start,” Stewart said.

Stewart added that she wasn’t against trapping, per se, and is not interested in seeing laws changed in that regard. She just wants a heads up on any ongoing trapping so she or any other dog owner could be made aware.

“Nobody deserves a heartache like I have,” she said.

Trappers sometimes do not like to sign their traps for fear of vandalism from members of the public unsympathetic to the practice. Others don’t like to advertise where their traps are set to other trappers or opportunistic fur-gatherers.

Typical cubby set bobcat snare (

Lisa Robertson formed the advocacy group Wyoming Untrapped in 2012. WU is dedicated to creating a safe and humane environment for people, pets and wildlife through education, trapping regulation reform and compassionate conservation. The organization keeps the only statewide database of pet/trap conflicts.

WU has documented an escalation in incidents since fur prices began rising a few years ago. Recently, WU reported several trapping alerts in the last two months, including another snare trapping in Star Valley up Strawberry Canyon where a dog almost suffocated. Reports of traps near popular trails have also been reported in Shell and Ten Sleep.

“Traps are indiscriminate and deadly, causing pain and suffering to those who lose a beloved friend and family member,” Robertson posted on WU’s Facebook site.

With legal traps set so close to popular trails and little to no signage, and considering many dogs are allowed off-leash on the trails, Robertson said, “Basically, there are no safe areas for the public.”

Column: Legal ramifications of hunting accidents

By Barry Covert  –  Guest Columnist

Hunting season is an annual tradition for many New Yorkers. While hunting is meant to be an enjoyable recreational activity, accidents happen and even the most seasoned hunters can make mistakes and/or be at risk from fellow hunters.

Planning, accident-prevention measures and common sense are key. It goes without saying that alcohol and hunting do not mix; perhaps a close second is fatigue and hunting do not mix.

Safety courses are mandatory for new hunters but also should be utilized by infrequent hunters who want to “dust off” the old rifle or shotgun.

Should someone become injured, giving aid should be a hunter’s first priority. However, they should also bear in mind the legal ramifications of an accident. A hunter can be held liable in civil and criminal court for injuring someone while hunting so they must understand their options.

Importance of intent

The bulk of hunting accidents generally fall into three categories: accidental firing that injures a person; missing a target and accidentally hitting a person; and mistaking a person for an animal.

A hunting accident can result in criminal charges and/or a civil lawsuit. The issue of intent is central to liability. In a civil lawsuit, if the person using the gun intended to shoot an animal, that person cannot later argue that there was no intent to hit the unintended victim. In those cases, because the intent was to hit something, that intention supersedes whether or not the intended target was hit.

Under criminal law, intent is treated differently. If the accident is fatal, the prosecution often argues that intent is not relevant because the defendant was criminally negligent. In New York, a person is criminally negligent when they fail to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk. That risk must constitute a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the same situation. N.Y. Penal Law § 15.05.

Non-fatal accidents

In criminal cases, if the accident does not result in the victim’s death, the hunter may be penalized with fines of $5,000 to $10,000, up to one year in jail or both. See Pen. L. §§ 70.00(4); 80.00(1); 120.20; 120.25. In those instances, the chances of being found criminally liable decrease. Such liability requires the criminal action and a supporting mental state. This is where the intent becomes more relevant; punishment is more likely if the defendant fails to provide the necessary aid to the injured party because it shows disregard for that person’s life.

In civil cases, a hunting accident must be intentional or a result of negligence in order for the defendant to be held liable. One defense against an intentional claim is that the defendant did not intend to shoot anything. This is difficult to prove in a hunting accident because hunting inherently involves shooting at a target. The most important factor is the defendant’s intent to use a weapon to hit a target; which target the defendant hits is less important.

Fatal accidents

If the accident is fatal, the state has several options for bringing charges. It can charge the defendant with involuntary manslaughter, which requires criminal negligence on the part of the defendant. A person may be found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree if that person recklessly causes another person’s death. The difference between criminal negligence and civil negligence is that criminal negligence requires the defendant to engage in blameworthy conduct so serious that it creates or contributes to a substantial and unjustifiable risk that another person’s death will occur, and fails to perceive that risk.

According to New York Penal Code § 265.35, a person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if that person intentionally discharges a firearm in a public place or with persons nearby, intentionally points a firearm at another person, intentionally aims and discharges a firearm at another person but does not injure them or intentionally aims and discharges and does injure them.

In the event of fatality, a wrongful death claim may be brought in civil court. Wrongful death claims can be either intentional or negligent. One defense against a negligence claim is assumption of the risk. This defense is most useful when the area in which the accident occurred is a popular spot for hunting, and the victim knew of the potential dangers. It can also be argued that the victim contributed to their own injury through carelessness.

Standard of care

In criminal and civil cases, the “standard of care” is used to address the question of negligence. The standard of care asks whether a reasonable person in the same situation as the defendant would have acted the way the defendant did. The defendant’s carelessness is measured against this standard. In order for the defendant to be found liable for negligence, the injury must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions.

Should the tragedy of a hunting accident occur, helping the injured party is of the utmost importance. It is also vital that hunters understand how their intentions and the injury’s severity could affect how they are penalized, as well as what the ramifications may be for negligent or careless behavior.

‘Tragic’ hunting accident claims life of 13-year-old Nebraska girl–year-old-nebraska/article_cab98f70-c9f0-5a7c-9164-756385ee6c0e.html

A school and community are mourning the death of a 13-year-old Shelby, Nebraska, girl who was killed in a weekend hunting accident.

Kimberlee Paddock, a seventh-grader at Shelby-Rising City Public School, was a kind, friendly, honor roll student who was involved in numerous activities, said Bill Curry, principal of the middle and high school grades at the K-12 school.

“She was the type of kid that others aspire to be,” Curry said. 

Kimberlee had been hunting with her father and two family friends Sunday when the black powder gun she was using accidentally discharged, Sheriff Ben Bakewell said.

The accident, reported about 5:30 p.m., occurred south of Genoa, Nebraska, about 20 miles west of Columbus.

Kimberlee was taken to Genoa Community Hospital and was pronounced dead there.

Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol determined that her death “was a tragic accident,” Bakewell said.

Counselors will be available throughout the week, Curry said.

A community gathering will be held at 7 tonight at Sacred Heart parish in Shelby.

“Sometimes, when there’s a tragedy, people just want to be together and be there for each other,” Curry said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Paddock family,” he said. “The whole community is hurting. Everyone wants to come together and help.”

Funeral services are pending.

Kimberlee, whom everybody knew as “Kimmee,” was a trumpet player in the school band, played “whatever sport was in season,” and loved art, the principal said. “You name it, she did it.”

She is survived by parents Mary and Scott Paddock, an identical twin sister, Jaimee, as well as adult siblings


 | January 9, 2018

By: Aubrey Brown | WCTV Eyewitness News

CHIPOLA, Fla. (WCTV) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking for the public’s help in identifying the person responsible for shooting a hunter in the leg.

According to FWC, the incident happened on the morning of December 29 on the Chipola River Wildlife Management Area near Waddell Mill Creek and Bump Nose Road.

Officials say a 21-year-old man was struck in the leg by a single projectile. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and released later that day.

“We’re asking that if you or someone you know was on Chipola River WMA that morning, to please give us a call,” said FWC Capt. Mark Clements. “It’s important that we investigate this incident fully to determine what happened.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Duck hunter nearly drowns in icy river after simple mistake


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV) — A Little Rock man is Facebook-famous after he uploaded a video after his duck-hunting mishap nearly cost him his life.

“I have duck hunted for 30 years and it’s never happened to me, and it happened, just like that,” Covington said, remembering last week when he, his son, and his dog were hunting on the Arkansas River.

Covington had decided to hop back on the boat to go retrieve a couple decoys that were floating in the water.

“I saw my life jacket and I thought, ‘You know what, I’ve been doing this a million times, I don’t really need the jacket,’ and so I didn’t take it with me,” Covington explained.

Those almost became his famous last words.

“I walked to the front of the boat, and before you know it, I fell through the ice,” he added.

It happened in the blink of an eye. Covington says as ice water began saturating his heavy jacket and boots, his body became heavy, and he was pulled to the bottom of the river.

Paralyzed, and helpless, he explained he “struggled trying to get back up into the boat.”

But Covington wasn’t going to let himself die without putting up a fight first. As he grasped the side of the boat, he yelled at his son not to jump in and help him.

“I said, ‘Matt, don’t come in! You’re going to drown, too!”

If anything, Covington was not going to put his son in harm’s way.

“For me to drown, I would’ve been gone. But then what really made my upset was about me being a dad—I almost drowned in front of my son,” he explained.

It was a guilt he didn’t want his child to bear for the rest of his life.

Fortunately, Covington made it to the boat and pulled onto shore. But sadly, some aren’t as lucky as Covington was. He says many duck hunters lose their lives on icy bodies of water in the wintry weather.

“The bad thing is, being a person who runs a mentoring program to kids through hunting and fishing, and I didn’t have my life jacket on,” Covington explained.

His experience serves as a reminder that the “it won’t happen to me” mentality is within everyone. And instead of beating himself up over it, Covington is using his second shot at life as a reminder that you can never be too safe.

Here’s a link to Covington’s video that went viral:

‘Idiot Hunter Deserved What he got’: Big Game Hunter Crushed to Death

  • Botha often took wealthy foreigners on hunts for leopards and other animals.

    Botha often took wealthy foreigners on hunts for leopards and other animals. | Photo: Theunis Botha/Youtube

Published 21 May 2017
The hunter had his own big game safari company that toted wealthy foreigners on tours since the 80s.

A professional big game hunter was killed on Friday, crushed by an elephant in Gwai, Zimbwawe, while out for a hunt with his hunter friends.


Trump Puts Hold on Elephant Trophy Imports

Theunis Botha, a settler from Tzaneen, South Africa, was on a hunt in the neighboring country when four elephants charged at them.

One female elephant picked up Botha with her trunk after he had fired at the others, collapsing on top him when she was shot by another hunter. Botha was then killed, crushed to death.

While sympathies poured out for the hunter, those critical of big game hunting responded otherwise.

“You should be crying for the innocent elephant that was senselessly murdered not this idiot hunter who deserved what he got,” one person wrote on an online forum about his death.

Botha had his own big game safari company that toted wealthy foreigners on tours since the 80s. From a family of white settlers who arrived in South Africa in 1878, the hunter served in the South African infantry during the Angolan War but left shortly after.

Possible hunter gunfire caused lockdown of Appoquinimink schools


Sounds of gunfire, possibly from hunters, caused Appoquinimink School District’s Cedar Lane Campus to go into a temporary lockdown Monday morning.

The lockdown, which was reported about 9 a.m., was short-lived after multiple state police troopers and its aviation unit responded to the vicinity and found nothing suspicious.

“It is believed to be hunters in the area,” said Sgt. Richard Bratz, a state police spokesman. “Waterfowl and small game are currently in season.”

Sounds of gunfire in the area of Cedar Lane Road, north of Middletown, caused Cedar Lane Early Childhood Center, Cedar Lane Elementary and Alfred G. Waters Middle schools to go on lockdown.