Thursday, June 29, 2017

Outdoor TV Personality Pleads Guilty to Wildlife Violation

Unless you live in a vacuum, you have probably heard the news of another outdoor television personality being convicted of a wildlife crime. This time it is Bill Busbice Jr. Co-founder of Wildgame Innovations and co-host of the television show Wildgame Nation carried on the Outdoor Channel.

Outdoor Hub and many other outlets carried the news when it broke earlier this week. Here is a link to the whole story. In short, Busbice was hunting on his ranch in Wyoming for his television show. He had with him a camera man who captured the entire event on film and audio. The crime was also witnessed by two other anonymous hunters who reported the crime.

Busbice is charged with shooting a cow elk, and leaving it to rot. He was shooting at a trophy bull elk, and in the process shot the cow. But continued shooting at the bull until he finally killed it. Then Busbice instructed his ranch manager to drag the cow to an irrigation ditch to hide the kill and to hide the intestines of the bull. He was sentenced to 1.5 years of "unsupervised probation" which I really do not know what that is. and ordered to pay a fine of $23,000. He also lost his hunting and fishing privileges for 2 years which is reciprocal in 45 additional states including his home state of Louisiana. It is important to note that earlier in 2016, Busbice was cited in Wyoming for purchasing a resident tag as a nonresident and also purchasing more than the legal allowed number of deer tags.

As the news broke, Outdoor Channel sent out a statement that can be read here, but says basically, they are severing all ties with Busbice, his brand and his TV show will be removed immediately.

Now for my take on the whole mess.

Personally I have never been a fan of Busbice's show. It has always appeared to me that he comes across as someone that is far more concerned with killing stuff than about promoting the lifestyle of hunting. His arrogance and "better than you" attitude exudes through the screen. I believe this is even noted in his response to the whole incident where he apologized for not tagging the cow elk. But makes no mention of the wanton waste of leaving the cow to rot. He makes no mention of his ordering his ranch manager to dispose of the cow or the mess he put this man in. He makes no mention of his stating on audio the need to delete the portion of the killing of the cow. He makes no mention of the ethical dilemma he placed on his camera man.  In short, had this event not been witnessed by other hunters, Busbice would have gotten away with this crime. And he would have no remorse for his actions. His remorse is in being caught. His remorse is in loosing his sponsorship's, and his TV show. Which leads to the obvious question, what else has he done that was not witnessed? How many other wildlife crimes were committed to make his TV show? How many other animals were laid waste by his arrogance?

The hunting industry needs to come down hard on the likes of Bill Busbice Jr. In an age when hunting is loosing membership, when recruitment of the younger generation is as difficult as it has ever been. The hunting industry needs to speak loudly against this type of action and as the old saying goes, "remove the cancer before it spreads."

His actions not only place doubt in the mind of many about him, his company and family. It also places doubt on the entire industry. How many other TV personalities have done similar for the chance of getting good footage? How many other TV personalities have killed over the limit, have bought the wrong tag, shot the wrong animal, etc and not corrected it?

A few months ago another TV personality was convicted for killing a turkey under the wrong license. As soon as it was brought to his attention, he immediately corrected the situation. Paid the fine and he brought it to the attention of his fans. We all know mistakes can happen. Especially in the maze of getting a  hunting license in different states. Which license covers what. For example, my home state is the only one in the nation where a big game permit is required to hunt turkeys. If you are hunting here from another state, most people would never think of a turkey as a big game. Its a bird for crying out loud. Why would you need a big game permit to hunt a bird? But you do. So we understand mistakes can happen. We do understand poaching. Poaching is not a mistake, it is intentional. We do not understand wanton waste. Wanton waste is not a mistake, it is intentional. We do not understand disposing of a cow elk in an irrigation ditch. We do not understand lying about your resident status to get a tag. These things we do not understand.

If Bill Busbice Jr. is really the upstanding man he claims to be, he would issue another statement that says he made a series of decisions that led to his dismissal. He takes full responsibility and because of the damage done to his brand, himself, his family and the Outdoor Channel, he will remove himself permanently from any role within Wildgame Innovations and Wildgame Nation from any future programming. In essence he needs to step down and sever all ties with the brand he created.

I never wish ill will on anyone. I do not smile when others are hurting. I am not smiling now. Truth be told, I am very sad. I am sad for the Busbice family. I am sad for the Outdoor Channel, and for the hunting industry. I am sad for the image it brings to all hunters. But I am not sad for Bill Busbice. He made these decisions and now he must live with the consequences of those decisions. I pray that he find peace and use this opportunity to teach others about the downfall of poaching.

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