It’s happened once again. A TV show host broke the law in order to make a show. And while we’ve seen it happen countless times already with no-name outdoor shows trying be the next big thing, this time it’s different. This time it happened with one of the biggest business owners in the outdoor industry, and one of the biggest landowners in the state of Louisiana. That’s right. “Big Bill” Busbice has found himself in big trouble.
Here’s a look at the report that was posted at the Archery Wire this morning and is making the rounds in social media…
A Louisiana resident and star of a reality hunting television show pleaded guilty in a Kemmerer court to intentionally allowing an antlerless elk go to waste and an additional charge of taking an elk without the proper license, according to a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Billy A. Busbice, Jr., of Olla, La., who owns a hunting product company and appears in “Wildgame Nation,” entered the pleas before Lincoln County (Wyo.) Circuit Court Judge Frank Zebre May 23, according to the news release from the department’s Green River Office.
Zebre sentenced Busbice to 180 days of jail suspended, providing that he lead a law-abiding life during one-and-a-half years of unsupervised probation.
The judge ordered him to pay the maximum fines for both violations and the maximum in restitution for the illegal take of both elk for a total of $23,000.
Zerbe also revoked all of Busbice’s game and fish license privileges for 2017 and 2018. Because Wyoming is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, this revocation applies in 45 states, including his home state of Louisiana.
The case started Oct. 16 when hunters told Kemmerer Game Warden Chris Baird they saw a possible wildlife violation on the Spring Creek Ranch, which is owned by Busbice, on La Barge Creek. They saw a man hunting and a younger man with a video camera appearing to film a herd. The hunter shot one elk, presumably a cow, and then shot a bull. They saw the two walk to look at the bull and then leave.
Another man came, field-dressed the bull and hauled it away with a backhoe, Baird said.
“The hunters told me the first elk, which was later determined to be a cow, still lay in the meadow after the man had taken the bull away with the backhoe.”
On Oct. 17, Baird met with Busbice, who admitted to accidentally killing a calf elk while trying to harvest the large bull.
After the sun set, Busbice said he told the ranch manager and the cameraman to drag the carcass to an irrigation ditch to conceal it. They made no attempt to field-dress or preserve the meat.
The cameraman and the ranch manager corroborated Busbice’s story.
“Mr. Busbice told me they had been filming the elk hunt to feature on his reality TV hunting show,” Baird said.
Busbice admitted that he did not call Baird because he was concerned about having recently been cited for previous wildlife violations.
In 2016, Busbice was cited for false oath for purchasing a resident general elk license as a nonresident and purchasing more than the authorized number of deer licenses. He paid $1,430 in fines for those violations.
Say what you want, but a 2-year license suspension hardly seems like anything close to what should have been dealt in this case. Sure, the report says that he was fined the maximum at $23,000, but a 2-year suspension is a slap on the wrist for such an act. Bill Busbice deliberately broke the law, on several counts, and this is all he gets? Others have been involved in hunting crimes that were far less in severity and quickly got slapped with a 5-year hunting suspension.
So why is it different here?
180 days of jail suspended if you promise to be a good boy for the next year and a half.
Surely money and power haven’t swung the law in Busbice’s favor, right? And is it that money and power that would make a man think he is above the law? Is there a, “It’s my ranch…I’ll do whatever I want,” mindset in play here?
Bill Busbice got off easy on this one, no doubt. The question is how will hunters and the hunting industry respond? Will they continue to buy products from a man that has so blatantly given hunters a black eye? And how will the Outdoor Channel handle this situation? Will they continue to allow Busbice’s Wildgame Nation TV show to be a part of their network?
Time will tell the tale on whether or not one man can truly live beyond the law. Comment below and let us know your thoughts on this case.