Nugent’s SD Pheasant Hunt May Be Afoul Of Game Law

Rocker and celebrity hunter Ted Nugent may have run afoul of South Dakota game laws by shooting pheasants after some of his hunting privileges were revoked in California.

Photo: Joey Foley / Getty Images
Rib America Festival, Military Park, Indianapolis, Ind.

Nugent’s loss of his California deer hunting license through June 2012 allows 34 other states to revoke the same privilege under the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, though each state can interpret and enforce the agreement differently.

South Dakota honors other states’ license revocations through both the compact and a state law that doesn’t differentiate between large game such as deer and small game such as pheasant, said Andy Alban, law enforcement administrator for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.

Alban wouldn’t confirm or deny whether the agency was investigating Nugent, but said: “In South Dakota, if a person had any hunting privileges revoked elsewhere, all of their hunting privileges would be revoked here.”

Nugent, famed for his 1977 hit “Cat Scratch Fever,” was hunting pheasants with his black Labrador retriever, Gonzo, at Dakota Hills Shooting Preserve on Oct. 16 in the southwest South Dakota town of Oral, according to Nugent’s Twitter posts and published reports.

A spokeswoman for the 61-year-old singer-guitarist said he was afield Thursday and she was trying to reach him for a statement.

California revoked Nugent’s deer hunting license on Aug. 13 after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of deer-baiting and not having a properly signed tag, said Dana Michaels, spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

The California deer-baiting charge was filed earlier this year after game wardens said they saw Nugent kill an immature buck on an episode of his Outdoor Channel television show “Spirit of the Wild.”

Investigators found that the deer had been eating bait called “C’mere Deer.” Baiting wildlife is legal in some states but illegal in California. Nugent originally faced 11 charges, but his attorney entered the two no-contest pleas as part of a deal with Yuba County prosecutors.

“I should have been better informed, more aware and I take full responsibility,” Nugent said in a statement after the plea. “The honorable hunting lifestyle is my deepest passion.”

The Outdoor Channel announced Monday that it had entered into an exclusive multiyear endorsement agreement with Nugent that is set to start in January.

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact allows 35 states, including South Dakota and California, to share information about fishing, hunting and trapping violations. It obligates members to report wildlife violation convictions to member states, giving them the capability to honor each other’s suspensions.

In recent Twitter posts, Nugent also talked about hunting in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Wisconsin was notified of California’s revocation, and he would not be allowed to purchase a deer license there through June 2012, although he is licensed to shoot small game and waterfowl, said Laurel Steffes, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman.

“We would honor it and not sell him the deer license,” she said, noting that he would not need a license to archery hunt on private licensed deer farms in Wisconsin.

Nugent can still legally hunt in Michigan, where he has bought several types of licenses for 2010, state game officials said.

Photo: AP Photo
Ted Nugent holds up a rooster pheasant he shot at the Dakota Hills Shooting Preserve in Oral, South Dakota.

Although a compact member, Michigan doesn’t have a parallel charge to the one that got Nugent in trouble in California, said Mary Dettloff, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The violation in California would not have resulted in a mandatory license suspension if it had happened in Michigan.

Nugent – known as the “Motor City Madman” – lived in Michigan most of his life before moving to Texas in 2003.