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Our Readers Write…

Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 7:03 pm

Friend defends accused po

To The Editor:
I am writing in regards to the recent article “Northwest Tennessee men sentenced for poaching,” especially as it pertains to the involvement of Boss Manley, as he is a friend and frequent hunting partner of mine. This article paints Boss in an inaccurate light that is very damning to him. The article accuses him of poaching. My definition of poaching is knowingly and intentionally killing an animal that is out of season. This was simply not the case.
Boss and two other hunters went to Colorado on an elk hunt. It was on this hunt they first met Colorado game warden Dan Cacho. After checking their licenses, he inquired where they were hunting and what. He told the group if they were able to kill an elk to continue to hunt using the downed elk to lure a bear in. He told them bears were a nuisance and to kill one if they got the opportunity.
The opportunity presented itself and Boss was able to kill a bear. When he called down the mountain to get directions on checking the bear in, he was made aware that the season had not opened yet. In one moment he was on cloud nine sending pictures home to family and friends, and the next he’s scared to death of what the ramifications might be. A joint decision was made out of fear to discard the bear to avoid getting into trouble. 
After seeing no one for days in the remote area where they were hunting, another hunter mysteriously showed up and then left the mountain. Some time later Warden Cacho shows up and questions the group. Boss immediately, and not eventually as the article states, told him the entire story of what happened. Cacho assured Boss that he would take care of this and it would all stay on the mountain.
The newspaper article makes Cacho out to be this super detective. It claims he found the carcass when they showed him where it was. He’s even quoted as saying “a lapse in judgment like this is very serious.”  A lapse in judgment? Boss was encouraged by Cacho to kill a bear and then a day or two later is arrested by him. At the very least there was a lack of communication; at the most entrapment. He sounds like a young, gung-ho game warden trying to get a notch in his belt or trying to cover his tracks from misleading the hunting party.
This article has a second story, however. That is how the story made its way to Tennessee and came to be shared in the local papers and radio stations. I inquired about this with the Weakley County Press and was directed to the Union City Messenger. I was told the Colorado Division of Wildlife had sent them the story. Why they felt compelled to do that I don’t know. I will take that up with them later.
My next question was why the paper felt the need to print the story. I was told that “poaching is a serious offense and the story was newsworthy.” I provided the definition of poaching in my opening paragraph and this was not poaching. Just who is this story “newsworthy” to? I’d much prefer to hear a positive news story rather than one like this that was so devoid of facts. I also asked if Boss or Ronnie were contacted prior to printing the story and was told they were not.
Boss will be the first to tell you he should have checked the game laws himself. Discarding the bear was also a mistake. I can’t say I would not have done the same thing under pressure and would be more likely to now after hearing of his excessive penalties. But who among us wouldn’t trust a game warden to tell you to do something only to arrest you a short time later for doing what he told you to do? This whole thing is just garbage. This was a birthday trip from his wife, a trip Boss had wanted to take his entire life. Why would he go to the trouble and expense of buying a license, telling the game warden where he was hunting and sending pictures to folks afterwards if he knew he was doing something illegal? The answer is he wouldn’t have. 
As I said, Boss is a friend of mine. A friend is someone in your life by deliberate choice not by an act of birth. A friend is someone who knows you better than anyone but likes you anyway.  Friends are such important people in our lives they are mentioned in the Bible in John 15:13. It is with this knowledge I can tell you that Boss would not have shot that bear if he knew he was breaking the law. He remains a friend and is not diminished any in my eyes. I am disgusted however by the local media and the Colorado division of wildlife for making this a local story.  The local media should really consider the impact they have on a person’s life before printing something like this. Very distasteful in my opinion.
Mike Johnson

Published in The WCP 11.8.12