Could You Lose Your Job Because You Went Hunting?

The answer is yes, of course.  Especially if you were supposed to be at work, your work was not completed prior to your hunting trip, or if you lacked time off to actually miss work.

But could you lose your job just because you went hunting?  It might surprise you to learn that Dan Richards, president of the California Fish and Game Commission, nearly lost his after going on a mountain lion hunt… in Idaho.

Mountain lion hunting has been prohibited in California since a 1990 ballot issue gave the species special protection.  However, it continues to be completely legal in neighboring Idaho, which uses hunting as a means to control cougar numbers.

Richards’ participation in the scientifically based, legal hunt sparked outrage in the anti-hunting community.  Led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), anti-hunters lobbied 40 legislators to call for Mr. Richards’ resignation claiming that the hunt made him unfit to serve on the Fish and Game Commission.

Sportsmen rallied to Mr. Richards’ defense, flooding the California legislature with calls that persuaded elected officials to back away.  (However, the victory came with a price.  Commissioner Richards’ mountain lion hunt has been cited as the chief reason why California legislators are considering Senate Bill 1221, a ban on hunting black bears and bobcats using hounds.)

Richards’ close brush with being ousted for hunting has sparked a national conversation with hunters across the country.  Could you lose your job for going on a legal hunt?  What if you’re a sportsman from Michigan (where mourning dove hunting is not allowed) and you hunt doves in neighboring Ohio or Indiana?  Should you have to worry that anti-hunting groups might try to get you fired from your job?

One Michigan state representative has introduced legislation aimed at protecting sportsmen from this exact situation.  Michigan Representative Joel Johnson (R-Clare) recently introduced legislation that prohibits the state from prosecuting, punishing, or penalizing someone for lawfully taking game in another state.

I gave the Representative a call and here’s what he had to say about his bill:

“A situation in California was brought to my attention where a state official was nearly forced to resign by interest groups for a completely legal mountain lion hunt he went on out of the state,” said Michigan Representative Joel Johnson (R-Clare).  “I don’t want this problem coming to Michigan.  Our residents will not be unjustly prosecuted or punished for legally taking game in other states.  We in Michigan welcome sportsmen and encourage our hunters to pursue sporting activities both in Michigan and around the country.”

The idea is a good one, sportsmen who legally hunt, fish, or trap in another state shouldn’t have to fear punishment from their home state.  Hats off to Representative Johnson for standing up for sportsmen and recognizing that there are groups out there like the HSUS trying to brand hunters as villains.

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4 comments on “Could You Lose Your Job Because You Went Hunting?

  1. I don’t think it’s right to lose your job for legally taking game in another state. However, it’s a basic issue of freedom for both you and your employer, so I wouldn’t necessarily be against it in certain circumstnaces. Furthermore, I see no need to introduce legislation to this effect. We live in an over-legislated society where politicians think everything can be solved by putting another law on the books. The resulting hodgepodge of regulations should be familiar to every hunter and fisherman out there (ever try reading through your state’s hunting or fishing regulations rule book?).

    I’m a hunter and a fisherman, and a great supporter of our rights to do so. But I also believe the main problem with our society right now is that politicians and regulators keep making ridiculous laws that limit our freedom and prosperity. It’s time to stop.

    • Jeremy Rine says:

      Most folks would probably agree that there are too many unnecessary laws considered and passed in states every year.

      However, I think the bigger picture that Rep. Johnson’s bill recognizes is that there are animal rights groups that would not hesitate to pressure your employer (see the California example above) to have you terminated simply for going on a legal hunt.

      The bill is a good example of a lawmaker recognizing that these groups are essentially trying to cast hunters as unemployable (i.e. if you hire a hunter we’ll pressure an employer to terminate him/her). Whether, you support the bill or not, it’s good to know there are lawmakers out there who are looking out for sportsmen and “get” the animal rights agenda.

  2. BUD FIELDS says:

    When I was working in the factory it was really difficult getting vacation scheduled during the deer seasons. Many iof the older seniority workers were farmers and they wanted the same weeks off for working the fields. I remember getting reprimanded MANY times for taking a day off to go hunting. NOW… after retiring… I am an outdoor columnist for a local newspaper and I am hosting my own outdoor program for a webcasting company and it is my JOB now to go fishing, trapping, camping and hunting… FINALLY… something I really enjoy doing and can get by with enjoying the outdoors.

  3. Jim Kirk says:

    I think that this is part of a broader problem in our society that has occurred with the decline of unions.

    As companies responsibilities to their employees as far as health care, pensions, safe working conditions have been rolled back by the radical right wing agenda, workers are now way more vulnerable to dismissal for what they say and do even though it doesn’t violate any law.

    I would like to see the entire bill of rights extended to the work place, so as long as what they were doing was legal nobody would be able to be fired for their off work activities.

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