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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2006

State senator gets hunting violation

By The Associated Press
November 15, 2006

HELENA - A well-known state senator was given a hunting citation over the weekend for shooting an elk on media mogul Ted Turner's ranch near Bozeman.

Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, said he accidentally wandered onto a part of Turner's Flying D Ranch while hunting earlier this month and shot an elk there. There were no signs or fences, he said.

Ranch hunting guides told him it was private land as he hiked out the meat over two days.

"I was absolutely convinced it was public land," Balyeat said.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said it gave Balyeat a $135 ticket for hunting without the landowner's permission after getting a complaint from Turner's ranch security office.

"It was a handled by Joe very well," game warden Joe Knarr said.

Balyeat, hunting in the Gallatin canyon area, said the land he walked onto was not marked as private and the mistake was an innocent one.

"I believe in private property rights," he said. "Ultimately, I should pay the fine because the final analysis is that I shot an elk on private land."

Balyeat said he briefly considered protesting the ticket because he believes it was an accident, but decided not to because of his status as a public official.

Knarr said the $135 ticket is a common citation and does not result in the loss of any hunting rights.

Knarr said Balyeat's explanation that he accidentally wandered onto the portion of the ranch is feasible. But Knarr pointed out it is always the hunter's responsibility to know whether he is in a place where he can legally hunt.

"He's got to know all the time where he is at," he said.

Balyeat said he holds no grudge against Turner or the way he manages hunting operations on his ranch.

"Even though I don't agree with Ted Turner's politics, I haven't had a problem with Ted Turner's hunting operations," Balyeat said.

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