By Jeff Lucas, USFWS
It was a cool, crisp morning on the Upper Mississippi River NWFR in Illinois.
For years, Federal Wildlife Officer Darryn Witt had heard about a group of waterfowl hunters taking over-limits of ducks in a remote area of the Refuge.
On this day, along with his partner, Federal Wildlife Canine Rudi, Officer Witt sat up on a vantage point hoping to finally get a glimpse of this elusive hunting party that he had heard so much about. On this day, Officer Witt and Rudi were in the right place at the right time.
Rudi helped Officer Witt find this stash of ducks. (Photo: USFWS)
Officer Witt observed two hunters shoot 18 ducks. On two separate occasions the hunters left the marsh to hide their take into the woods nearby and return for more. The daily limit is 6 ducks.
The Officer had a general idea of where the hunters had hid the ducks, but couldn’t be sure.
As the hunters began to leave their hunting blind for the day, Officer Witt and Rudi made their approach.
When asked how the hunt went, the hunters told the Officer that they “almost got their limit.” Officer Witt then ordered Rudi to track into the woods where he believed the over limit of ducks had been stashed. The hunters knew that they had been had. At one point during the preceding interview, one of the hunters said, “You never would have caught us if it wasn’t for that dog!”
Have you ever seen a dog smile? You would have this day.
The fines totaled $1,775.00; an expensive day of hunting. FWC Rudi left a lasting impression on these hunters for years to come.
Jeff Lucas is a Federal Wildlife Office with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service