November 05. 2006 6:59AM No ducking law in hunting case Osceola residents charged with harassment of waterfowl hunters. OUTDOORS: COMMENTARY LOUIE STOUT Waterfowler Chris McDonald grew tired of being harassed. The South Bend resident and his hunting companions have been badgered by a handful of St. Joseph River residents for two years. "Every time the ducks would fly in or we'd shoot, they'd begin blowing air horns, play loud music, or come out to confront us," said McDonald, a construction worker and avid duck hunter. "I couldn't deal with it anymore." McDonald contacted DNR conservation officers by cell phone when a similar incident occurred during the two-day mini-season Oct. 14-15. Before officers arrived, harassing residents went into hiding. When the officers left, a resident boated into McDonald's decoys and began harassing him again. "He told me he didn't care if he got fined cause he'd pay any fine they threw at him," McDonald said. Well, he's gonna get a chance to put his money where his mouth is, because McDonald reported the incident again and DNR officials stepped in and caught two residents red-handed. "I got a call from an officer Friday night suggesting I not hunt the same place on the river," McDonald said. "I knew something was up." When duck season resumed Saturday morning, two "hunters" took McDonald's spot on the river not far from Baugo Bay. Once the clock ticked to legal shooting hours, they opened up on passing ducks. It wasn't long before loud music blared from speakers positioned along the shore. And an air horn blared. Repeatedly. Meanwhile a tape machine in the duck hunters' boat recorded it all. Unbeknownst to the residents, the hunters were conservation officers Mark Hines and Mike Fox. On the opposite river bank, officer John Mortimore watched it all from a spotting scope. "They continued to harass my guys until we called off the operation and went to shore to confront the people," said Mortimore. Two Osceola residents were cited for violations of Indiana's Hunter Harassment Law. Mortimore wouldn't release their names pending further investigation, but said he believes he has more than enough evidence to get convictions. If so, the harassing residents face fines up to $1,000 and a year in jail. Mortimore said both parties admitted they were trying to keep the ducks away so they couldn't be hunted. "I explained to them that was against the law, that McDonald has every right to hunt that section of the river and he was not endangering their life or property," he offered. "Just because you live on a river doesn't mean you own the water or mustn't share the resource." Mortimore said there are areas of the river where waterfowl hunting would be dangerous and not permitted, but this wasn't one of them. "People need to educate themselves in regards to hunting activities," Mortimore continued. "Also, if they'd read the history of this country, they'd realize that hunting and trapping is what made this country." McDonald hopes the ordeal is over and plans to hunt the spot again. "I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, but they were pushing me to the point I didn't have a choice," he said. "It was either that or I had to hunt someplace else, and this spot is a good one for duck hunting. I wasn't doing anything wrong and am never careless with my gun. I don't take chances." Mortimore pointed out that the conservation officer's role is to look out for hunters' welfare as well as to check them for hunting violations. Two weeks ago, he took part in a major waterfowl operation in Michiana that targeted waterfowl hunting violators. "If you live by the edge of the sword, expect to get arrested by the sword," he noted. "That goes for the people who want to interfere with legal sportsmen as well as those who violate our fish and game regulations."