Illegal Pre-season/Nightime Turkey Hunt Results in Fatal Accident

Turkey hunting season doesn’t begin in the Upstate until April 1, McCullough said. Hunting turkeys at night is illegal, even during turkey season….

Gaffney man dies after turkey hunting accident

Published: Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 4:39 p.m.
Wildlife Photography©Jim Robertson  All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography©Jim Robertson All Rights Reserved

Last Modified: Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 4:39 p.m.

A Gaffney man died following a hunting incident off Robbs School Road over the weekend, authorities say.

Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said in a statement Sunday that the body of Brian James Gilliam, 42, of 1202 Bonner Road, Lot 6, was discovered in a wooded area off Robbs School Road about noon Saturday.

Fowler said Gilliam was found after neighbors of the property reported seeing a light projecting in the air late Friday night.

“It appears Gilliam was in a deep ravine on the property and was attempting to climb out of it on large, unstable rocks when he slipped, and the muzzle-loaded shotgun discharged, striking him in the right arm and shoulder,” Fowler said in the statement. “After being shot, Gilliam walked some 40 yards to the cleared area where he was found.”

Fowler said his investigation indicates Gilliam and a friend had trespassed on the property Friday night to illegally hunt turkeys but later became separated. A flashlight in the “on” position was found pointing upward on a tree stump near the body. Fowler said it appeared that Gilliam used the light to alert his friend of his location.

The friend, who Fowler did not identify, was picked up about 2 a.m. after failing to locate Gilliam, and returned to his home with a turkey he said Gilliam shot and gave to him before the two became separated, Fowler said. Gilliam’s daughter and others searched Saturday but were unable to locate the missing hunter.

Gilliam had no identification with him but was positively identified through fingerprints, Fowler said. An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday morning.



Capital Press: Bird flu strikes game bird farm in Washington

by Don Jenkins

Capital Press

Published:January 29, 2015



Highly pathogenic bird flu has broke out game bird farm in Okanogan County in north-central Washington.

A 5,000-bird game flock in Okanogan County has been infected with highly pathogenic bird flu, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

It’s the largest avian influenza outbreak to date in Washington, where three non-commercial flocks in other parts of the state had previously been infected, apparently by migrating birds. Wild birds and a captive falcon that died after eating wild duck also tested positive for bird flu.

“There’s no real way to predict where it might crop up,” WSDA spokesman Hector Casto said.

The owner of the flock in Riverside, near Omak, reported this past weekend to the WSDA that about 40 pheasants and 12 turkeys had died.

The Washington State University laboratory in Puyallup confirmed the birds had been sicked by highly pathogenic bird flu, as opposed to a less contagious and less lethal low pathogenic strain.

Samples have been sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, to pinpoint the strain. So far, three different highly pathogenic bird flu strains have been found in Washington since mid-December.

Castro said the flock has been quarantined and will be destroyed. WSDA plans to establish a larger quarantine zone around the game farm to restrict the movement of birds and poultry products. The WSDA has not released the name of the flock’s owners.

Castro said the flock tested negative for bird flu in November, but that was before bird flu first appeared in the region. Bird flu was confirmed Dec. 1 in a British Columbia, Canada, poultry farm near the Washington border. Between Dec. 1-19, 11 B.C. commercial poultry operations and an 85-bird backyard flock fell victim to the virus.

Highly pathogenic bird flu was confirmed last week in a 145,000-bird Foster Farms turkey farm in Stanislaus County, Calif., the first U.S. commercial operation to be infected.

Backyard flocks also have been infected in Oregon and Idaho.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture on Wednesday lifted a quarantine in place since mid-December around the premises where a backyard flock in Winston in Douglas County was infected in mid-December.

WSDA last week lifted a quarantine in Benton and Franklin counties around where two backyard flocks were exposed to the virus in early January.

A quarantine remains in place where a non-commercial flock in Clallam County was infected.

WSDA and USDA officials have take samples from birds at 32 places inside the quarantine zone, and all tested negative for bird flu, Castro said.

No Offense, but Have Yourselves a Merry Christmas

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year (you’ll notice I didn’t call it Xmas, or “the holidays”). It’s the season of chilly nights, snowy days

Text and Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Photography ©Jim Robertson

and cozy mornings by the crackling fire, that I long for during the dry summer months. The Solstice —with its leafless trees, longer days and promise of spring—adds its magic to the spell. To this devout unbeliever—this compassionate atheist—the arrival of winter has always been known as Christmastime.

Make no mistake; I don’t believe in virgin births, any more than I believe in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny or the talking walnut. It’s all a bunch of anthropocentric hooey. But I think it’s sad that Americans aren’t supposed to say “Merry Christmas” any more.

I wouldn’t expect store clerks to assume their customers are all church-going Christians. I for one am not and never have been—my church is the DSC_0082wild forest, mountains, rivers and oceans. Yet I still think of the giving season simply as Christmas. When I’m out shopping for Christmas presents, I’d rather hear a hearty “Merry Christmas” than a sheepish “happy holidays.” Instead of spreading good cheer, the latter comes across as an embarrassed, “the capitalist corporation I work for will fire me if I’m caught wishing you a Merry Christmas.”

I enjoy all kinds of Christmas music—as long as it’s joyous—and all sorts of Christmas decorations, particularly those that celebrate trees and greenery. I’m not offended by manger scenes, especially the ones that include lots of animals bedded down on nice dry straw. But the religious slant can definitely be taken too far. I get irritated when someone includes a cross in their Christmas display.

To me a cross is a symbol of cruelty, suffering and death, not peace, love and generosity. It doesn’t belong anywhere near Christmas. I’ve never believed in needing savior to achieve redemption. And I’m already painfully aware of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man (not to mention, to the pigsDSC_0101 and turkeys, as well as the ducks and geese I hear being shot at out there as I write this—all in the spirit of holiday feasting).

Not that I think anyone’s ever coming back from anywhere, but I can identify with this memorable line in the Woody Allen film, Hannah and her Sisters, when Max Von Sydow’s character, Frederick, laments about the garbage on TV: “You see the whole culture. Nazis, deodorant salesmen, wrestlers, beauty contests, a talk show. Can you imagine the level of a mind that watches wrestling? But the worst are the fundamentalist preachers. Third grade con men telling the poor suckers that watch them that they speak with Jesus, and to please send in money. Money, money, money! If Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”

I’ve never thought of December 25th as the birthday of any god-incarnate or the day that reindeer can fly or when Santa visits every house in one night. But I’ll always call it Christmas—the name for a season that ought to last all year long. It’s not just a holiday—the spirit of selfless giving should be a year-round sentiment.

Oh, and if anyone up there really is listening, all I want for Christmas is world peace for all beings— and enough freaking snow to ski on.


Butterball: Tell Butterball to Stop Torturing Turkeys

Butterball: Tell Butterball to Stop Torturing Turkeys

By Mercy For Animals
West Hollywood, California

From the day they hatch until they are violently killed, the lives of Butterball turkeys are filled with misery and deprivation.

How do I know? Because I worked undercover at a Butterball turkey hatchery in North Carolina on behalf of Mercy For Animals — a national animal protection charity. At Butterball, I used a hidden camera to document horrors that few people could even imagine, including:

• Baby birds being callously tossed into a macerating machine to be ground up alive

• Workers roughly throwing and dropping newborn animals with no regard for their welfare

• Newly hatched birds regularly getting stuck in and mangled by factory machinery

• Turkeys having their sensitive toes and beaks cut or burned off without any painkillers

Unfortunately, these abuses are merely a sample of the ongoing cruelty and violence that turkeys are forced to endure at Butterball. Previous investigations by Mercy For Animals have exposed Butterball workers violently kicking and throwing turkeys, and bashing in their heads with metal pipes. One such investigation led to a raid of the Butterball factory farm by law enforcement and resulted in multiple criminal cruelty to animals convictions of Butterball workers, including the first-ever felony cruelty conviction related to factory-farmed poultry in U.S. history.

On top of all of this horrific violence, Butterball’s turkeys endure selective breeding to grow so large, so quickly, that many of them suffer from painful bone defects, hip joint lesions, crippling foot and leg deformities, and fatal heart attacks.

This has got to stop.

Please join me, and Mercy For Animals, in calling on Butterball to end some of the cruelest factory farming practices.

Thank you.


18-year-old woman shot while turkey hunting

Updated: 2014-05-09T13:03:49Z

The Associated Press

— Authorities are investigating after an 18-year-old high school student said she was shot while turkey hunting at a northwest Missouri lake, and the shooter left without helping.

The woman told authorities told authorities she was hunting turkeys at the lake by herself when she was shot. KMBC-TV reports that she yelled for help but the shooter left. The girl was shot in the leg but was able to drive herself to the hospital, where she might need surgery.

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson,

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson,

Controversial wild turkey hunting method gain popularity


2014-05-09T19:35:00Z Decoy dilemma: Video clips help controversial wild turkey hunting method gain popularityRICH LANDERS – The Spokesman-Review Ravalli Republic

For perspective, Native Americans camouflaged themselves with the horns and skins of buffalo to stalk bison. The tactic’s effectiveness was all that was important for Indians hunting to survive.

But modern sportsmen have more to consider.

A decoy company’s video hyping the “scoot & shoot” technique – or “fanning” as some call it – is getting a lot of play on the Internet. Some hunters apparently find no problems with sneaking and hiding behind the fanned-out tail of a realistic gobbler decoy, at least on private land.

The Mojo Outdoors video clips show hunters rising from behind a gobbler decoy’s fanned tail and shooting running toms, sometimes as close as 10 feet or less.

Ethical hunters strive to be undetected so a steady, clean shot can be made at a standing gobbler’s head from a distance optimum for shot placement.

But the video brazenly shows hunters missing turkeys at ranges so close their shot pattern spreads only about 3 inches.

In several cases, the hunters rise from the decoy, spooking the incoming gobblers at close range and then taking running shots, with poor results. Multiple shots are fired and in some cases the fleeing or flying birds must be killed with body shots.

An ethical hunter rarely has to worry about a pellet in the turkey breast he serves at the table. Not so in these cases.

The link for the Mojo Outdoors scoot & shoot decoy video was sent to five people experts in the field of turkey hunting and hunter safety. Following is a summary of their reactions.

• Steve Hall, executive director of the International Hunter Education Association, said a hunter in the field must look at shooting from the offensive perspective – be sure of your target – as well as the defensive.

“Our stance has always been don’t wear anything resembling animals that are being hunted, especially on public land.”

He cites examples of Texas hunters shooting a man in dark clothing after mistaking him for a hog, and the 19-year-old Kansas hunter who was hiding in a goose decoy when he was shot by a drive-by shooter.

Missouri was a leading state in compiling data on causes for turkey hunting accidents, said Hall, who’s been analyzing hunter accident stats for more than three decades. By pointing out dangerous practices – such as wearing red, white or blue colors and sneaking up to the sound of calling turkeys – hunter safety educators have dramatically reduced turkey hunting accidents in the past decade.

“The safe practices we teach are usually borne from empirical data,” Hall said. “In the case of turkey fanning, I must say we haven’t collected any, yet.

“Do I have evidence against it? No. Would I promote it or do it myself? Heck no.”

• Jimmy Parman of Newman Lake, voted Washington’s hunter safety educator of the year in 2013, said he hasn’t directly addressed fanning tactics.

“It never occurred to me that anyone would be dumb enough to do this,” he said. “I’ll be talking about this with my students from now on.”

Defending the tactic as OK in a “safety zone” of private land doesn’t hold water, Parman said:

“Every landowner will tell you he’s dealt with trespassers and poachers.”

• Dave Murphy, veteran Spokane turkey hunter and former Primos pro-staffer, said, “This is new to turkey hunting and I really don’t think those who made up the safety recommendations ever saw this coming.

“What if someone breaking the law was to shoot a rifle, say 200 yards away, at that fan? Do you really want your face right behind it?

“I don’t like the idea at all!” said Murphy, who’s promoted safe use of gobbler decoys and calls. “I have not and will not encourage anyone to do it.

“Put your back to a tree and put your decoy out in front of you. In that way you can hopefully see anyone sneaking in on your decoy and the tree protects your back.”

• Leonard Wolf, local sportsman who hunts mostly on private land, is less judgmental.

“As a seasoned and experienced turkey hunter who regularly takes out novice hunters and spends over 20 days annually in search of long beards, mostly for others as an unpaid guide, I would compare these Mojo products to automobiles and drivers,” he said. “A souped-up sports car in the hands of a skilled driver on an appropriate course could be safe while it would be dangerous on public streets or in the hands of an amateur, he said.

“I would never suggest (scoot &shoot) be used by novice hunters and NEVER on public land!” he said.

“I can see where these decoys might appeal to an inexperienced hunter, and if that were to occur and these decoys were used incorrectly under the wrong conditions, I see no evidence of guilt on the part of the manufacturer, nor would I place any blame on them.”

He points out that beneath the photo of a scoot-n-shoot gobbler decoy with a fully fanned tail and engorged red head, the Mojo Outdoors webpage warns that the product should be used “only in very controlled hunting areas.”

• Tom Hughes, National Wild Turkey Federation assistant vice president and wildlife biologist who’s helped prepare the organization’s safety materials, condemns fanning.

“I consider it an extreme form of stalking turkeys, and we’ve already affirmed that stalking turkeys is unsafe and a bad idea.”

After years of studying data, Hughes said the NWTF had a “strong belief that the traditional method of sitting in place and calling a turkey, moving as needed to new locations, is safer and more successful than sneaking methods.”

His last word on scoot-n-shoot: “I can’t really think of a better way to assure that someone’s going to get shot while turkey hunting.”


Hunter killed in Clay County identified

[Odd that all the hunters who get killed are always “tremendous” “happy” people, when so many you meet wouldn’t fit that description.]

 911 call made after Clay County hunters shot released

 Hunter killed in Clay County identified [while the turkey is still anonymous.]

CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) – A hunter is dead after he and another man were shot while turkey hunting in Clay County Thursday morning.

Officials with Kentucky State Police confirm to WKYT that Brian Griffin, [Wait, isn’t that the dog from Family Guy?] 28, died from his injuries. Griffin and the other injured hunter were airlifted from the scene to UK Hospital.

The shooting happened in a rural area between Manchester and Fogertown in rural Clay County. Officials have been searching the area where it happened for most of the day with a K-9 unit while friends helped look for Griffin’s keys at the scene.

Police tell us three men were turkey hunting along Highway 638. That’s when their hunting trip was cut short while walking along a ridge line. They were shot by an unknown person, according to Clay County Sheriff Kevin Johnson. [Maybe it was Miss Kentucky.]

The third man in that group called for help, Johnson said.

“Two of the gentlemen were hit. The third individual was not hit, and he was able to call 911,” said Trooper Lloyd Cochran with Kentucky State Police.

Throughout the day, we’ve learned a bit about the man who was killed, Brian Griffin, from the Clay County High School basketball coach, who once played ball with Griffin.

“Brian’s a great friend of mine,” said Coach Robert Marcum. “He played at Clay County a few years back. And as a basketball coach at Clay County, I always welcome people into the gym that actually wore the Tiger jersey.”

Coach Robert Marcum also tells us he worked alongside Griffin at a prison for a few years as well.

“Just a tremendous person,” Marcum says. “Never heard of anybody saying anything negative about him [except that he hunted]. You know, he’s just so calm natured and just a happy person.”

As for the second victim, a family friend says that man is Jason Roberts of Clay County who was flown to UK Hospital. We have no word on his condition.

As of 11 p.m. on Thursday, state police and Sheriff Johnson were still looking for the shooter responsible for this. The sheriff also wants to clear up a rumor, saying this case is not connected to drug activity in the area. He’s calling this a hunting accident.

Miss Kansas to host hunting show for Outdoors Channel


Updated: 2014-04-14T00:05:03Z

[A fresh face, camo, the smell of a bleeding dead bird in the morning–I must be dreaming. Or is it a nightmare?! Wake up Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.]

April 13 By Michael Pearce

The Wichita Eagle

— Theresa Vail’s job has included a lot of cameras and fashionable clothing since she won the Miss Kansas crown last year. Friday and Saturday she got a look at a future that will contain more of the same when she reliquishes her crown June 7.

From then on, though, the cameras will be videoing her on hunts and other outdoors passions for “Limitless,” a series she’ll be hosting on the Outdoors Channel next year. The clothing will be mostly camo, made by “She,” a line of women’s outdoors apparel Vail has been hired to promote and help design.

Vail filmed her first episode for the show while at the Governor’s Turkey Hunt in El Dorado. The show was about a Flint Hills turkey hunt with her father, Mark. Both shot nice toms 20 minutes into the hunt Friday morning.

Vail has received attention for openly speaking of her love of hunting, firearms and her career in the Kansas Army National Guard. She gained more national attention when she announced she would not cover her tattoos in the Miss America competition in Atlantic City last September.

Two months later, the 23-year-old chemistry and Chinese major at Kansas State realized that her career goal of becoming a dentist might be put on hold when the Outdoor Channel called to talk about her possibly hosting a series on their network.

“I told them I didn’t want to do what everybody else was doing and they said they didn’t either,” Vail said while taking a break from Friday’s hunt. “We both wanted it to have more than just me on hunts. I was sold from there on.”

She had gotten a taste of outdoors television in late December, when she and cameraman David Blanton met for an archery deer hunt near Pratt. It snowed hard, and the windchill and temperatures were brutal. She got a nice, mature whitetail with her bow. Blanton, Realtree Outdoors host, got a look at someone he thought could easily succeed in the business.

“She just absolutely energized me more than anything. She is an amazing person, really,” Blanton said. “She really wants to teach people they can do things outside their comfort zone, to believe in themselves. They’ll see when the shows begin to air.”

Vail said about half of each segment will be based on hunting, usually with archery gear. The rest will be about a particular personal challenge. To go along with a New Mexico elk hunt she’ll be spending a day training with the state’s Smoke Jumper fire fighters.

“You have 100 pounds of gear on, and you’re running up and down buildings carrying people in a fireman’s carry,” she said. “It’s going to be pretty tough, but I thrive on things like that.”

Another show will have her participating next year in a marathon in New Mexico that honors soldiers from the Bataan Death March in World War II. She recently hosted several pageant contestants at the event, which is held largely across boot-sucking sand dunes. Vail carried 46 pounds in a rucksack to compete in the event’s toughest category.

Vail also wants to be as hands-on as possible in her hunts that will include at least three trips for elk, several for deer and possibly at least one for bear. That means she’ll be insisting on field-dressing and packing out loads of meat, when needed.

Though a longtime hunter, she admits she does have plenty to learn.

“I’m not afraid to say, ‘Hey, I don’t know how to do this,’ but I want to learn and do it myself,” she said. “That’s empowering and more people need to do it. I’ve never (backpacked the meat from an elk down a mountain), but I will learn how and that’s the kind of thing that makes me so proud.”

Friday morning’s hunt with guide Pat Post, her father and two cameramen required some quick thinking.

Post’s scouting had found where a sizable flock of turkeys was roosting in a high-rise of a sycamore over a gorgeous Flint Hills stream. The crew of five moved close to the roost while tom turkeys filled the still air with scores of gobbles.

Four toms strutted toward Post’s decoys shortly after fly-down. A mechanical problem caused Vail’s gun to only “click” when she pulled the trigger. Using the sound of her dad’s shot to cover her noise, she quickly worked the action on the semi-automatic 12 gauge and killed a nice tom five yards away.

Vail has also been hired by Bass Pro Shops for assorted company promotions and work on the She clothing line, which they own. She said she’ll finish the two semesters needed for her college degree online.

She also re-enlisted for another six years in the National Guard. Vail said they’re willing to work with her schedule since she often promotes the military. Her father has had a long career as an Army dentist.

After working with Vail on several projects, the two cameramen in Kansas to film the turkey hunt believe she’ll be able to get done all she’s mentioned, and probably more.

“She’s not afraid of trying anything,” cameraman Casey Keefer said. “There’s nothing timid at all about Theresa. She has so much drive and personality.”

Cameraman Jason Brown agreed, saying, “It’s like the title of her show, ‘Limitless,’ there are no limits in Theresa.”


Police chief shoots dead best friend in hunting accident

A police chief of a small Tennessee town shot and killed his lifelong best friend in a hunting accident.

Virgil McNeese was hunting turkey when he fired into bushes where 41-year-old Stanley Whitman was standing.

Father of four Whitman was airlifted to hospital but later died from his injuries.

McNeese has been chief of police for the town of Monteagele in Tennessee since 2006 and is a 19 year veteran on the force.

The two men were hunting in a pasture in Richard City, near the Alabama border, that well known by locals as a prime spot to hunt wild turkeys.

Whitman’s son, who reportedly was on the turkey hunt, ran to a nearby home to get help after the shooting, according to WRCB.

Where it happened: The field where McNeese reportedly shot Whitman dead

Where it happened: The field where McNeese reportedly shot Whitman dead


‘Our hearts are with the families and everyone affected, it was a terrible thing to see,’ said Adam Higgins, who heard the fatal shot.

‘I was getting ready for work and I heard a gunshot went off. Normally, up here, it wouldn’t be something you’d be concerned about.’


But he said as emergency vehicles arrived he knew something was wrong.

Marion County District Attorney Mike Taylor said it was too early to say whether McNeese could face criminal charges.

Whittman was placed on life support but family members agreed to switch it off after doctors told them he was brain dead.

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Couple involved in hunting reality show convicted of poaching in Nebraska

By Andrew Bottrell / World-Herald News Service

A North Carolina couple who outfitted hunting trips in central Nebraska has been convicted of poaching.

Jason and Britney Edney, of Hendersonville, N.C., will both serve federal probation and pay fines for the offenses after reaching plea deals.

According to a press release from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Monday, with the help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, investigators uncovered more than 25 instances of overbagging or hunting turkeys without permits, 29 illegally taken deer, 17 instances of failing to check deer and five small games violations.

The incidents occurred in Frontier, Dawson, Keya Paha and Lincoln Counties.

Jason Edney will be on five years of federal probation, which includes a ban on hunting, fishing and trapping. He will also pay $35,000 in restitution. Britney Edney will serve three years of probation, which includes a ban on hunting, fishing and trapping, with $10,000 in restitution.

Poaching is a violation of the federal Lacey Act, which bans the trade of fish, wildlife and plants that are illegally taken, transported or sold.

Three other people involved – Jay Myers of Alabama, Matt Woods of Alabama, and Greg Voliva of North Carolina – were convicted of misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act and ordered to pay fines and restitution.

The Edneys had been part of a reality TV series that had teams compete through hunting. Several of the illegal hunts were videotaped for the series, and footage was posted online to promote their outfitting business.

 Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, All Rights Reserved