Facing down one misdemeanor charge for each year of his life, Brayden Reed of Shepherd, MT is in up to his neck.
“Brayden Reed has been charged with three counts of hunting without a license, three counts of hunting during a closed season, three counts of unlawful use of artificial light, three counts of waste of game, three counts of unlawful possession of game, two counts of killing over a bag limit and one count of hunting on private property without landowner permission.”
It seems that young Mr. Reed has a taste for backstraps and antlers but an aversion to lawful hunting methods and apparently the rest of the mule deer he left to rot at the Ahi-Nei Recreation area where he also illegally felled a tree and burned it while littering the ground with “beverage” cans, I will leave it to you to guess what kind of beverage cans.
It does not appear that need was the motivation for this poaching spree. So what then? Boredom? Teenage angst? Lack of guidance? Ego? Whatever it was, this young man’s blatant disregard for lawful hunting and methods of take is, unfortunately, all too common. We see the proof of this in the number of poaching cases streaming across our news feeds on a weekly basis.
What’s the answer?
In past blogs about poaching I’ve railed against leniency when dealing with offenders and have consistently called for a heavier hand to apply punitive measures. Afterall, the greater the punishment the greater the deterrent right?
Not that I’m waffling on that stance but this instance is making me look hard at my hard line stance on poaching punishments. This young man is 18 years old. Lawfully, an adult. However, he has the probability of a long life ahead of him and this just may be an opportunity for him to learn a valuable lesson and impact the future of poaching at the same time.
How? Simple. If found guilty, require him to perform restorative community service. Lots of it! Planting trees, picking up litter on public land, working off his debt to the people of Montana by working for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. He could labor on habitat restoration, CWD monitoring, the sky’s the limit, and in the Big Sky State… Well, you get the picture. All of this and a public speaking requirement to school kids on why poaching is wrong and what he’s learned from his nefarious past.
My point here is that I think this could be a golden opportunity for Brayden Reed, IF he is the kind of guy who cherishes his future. You all may think I’m way off base but I see proverbial lemons here and if he were my 18 year old son I’d expect him to start making the best damn lemonade possible.