Flamboyant hunting guide gets federal slap
Member of a noted Shore family is fined $5,000 for goose kill
From the Baltimore Sun
By Matthew Dolan, Sun reporter
April 20, 2007
The old Cap'n Buddy sported flashy rings as he crowed about his good
fortune. A Rolex on his wrist, he covered his feet in snakeskin boots
and boasted on a homemade Internet video that he's "old and bold and
full of gold."
Today the captain is a little less full.
After a two-year sting operation in which federal agents posed as
law-breaking hunters, 73-year-old Levin Faulkner Harrison III pleaded
guilty yesterday to overseeing the illegal killing of Canada geese in
excess of the daily limit.
A federal magistrate judge in Baltimore imposed a $5,000 fine on the
self-described "Boss Hogg of Tilghman Island." She also ordered Harrison
to contribute $675 to a wildlife fund and took away his commercial
hunter guide license.
The hunting violations were nothing new for Harrison, who is
descended from a family of the island's largest private landowners yet
introduces himself as the fun-lovin' Cap'n Buddy. He has had six prior
misdemeanor convictions for breaking laws designed to protect fishing
and oystering in the Chesapeake Bay, lawyers said.
One prosecutor called him "a bit of a scofflaw."
Yet Harrison again avoided prison time. He could have faced a maximum
penalty of six months behind bars and a $15,000 fine, but that wasn't
part of the "Buddy Plan" - also the name of his old boat.
"The government does not believe that's necessary to deter Mr.
Harrison," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Romano, who
recommended the no-prison sentence as part of a plea agreement.
Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner agreed but warned Harrison that he
risked time behind bars if he breaks game laws again.
"You can't do that anymore," Gesner chided. "I hope you take this
Harrison remained somewhat defiant after the hearing in U.S. District
Court in Baltimore yesterday. Dressed in a blue suit with decidedly less
bling, Harrison explained that his online video caught the attention of
federal agents who eventually charged him with hunting violations.
"They thought I had money so they come after me," he said.
The music video called "Laugh Your Bass Off" and posted on
goodoleboysoutdoors.com (registration required) shows Harrison sniffing
a wad of hundred-dollar bills.
"Cap'n Buddy's my name, fishin' my game," he says on the video while
bikini-clad women dance behind him on his boat.
Later, he jokes on the video, "It ain't never easy being me."
His lawyers, Andrew C. White and Roy B. Cowdrey Jr., argued that
characterizing Harrison as a chronic lawbreaker was unfair.
"I don't think that's an accurate reflection of the man," Cowdrey
said, adding that Harrison had been held ultimately responsible before
for the misdeeds of his employees.
The attorneys said the length and breadth of the undercover
investigation surprised them for a plea that ended with a single
"They flew the agents in from Texas," Cowdrey said.
Harrison and his business had originally been charged with six
counts; five were dropped as part of the plea agreement. After the
hearing, Cowdrey eventually stopped a reporter from asking follow-up
questions about the future of Harrison's businesses, which he said, by
the way, will be fine.
For more than 50 years, Harrison has fished the bay while overseeing
a processing plant, an inn, a restaurant and a fleet of charter boats.
So famous was his family's Harrison's Chesapeake House that island
diners included presidents and senators.
A larger-than-life character on the 3-mile-long island, he took to
the roads in a camouflage Hummer and upgraded his 50-foot charter boat,
Buddy Plan, to the 62-foot Capt. Buddy.
In the late 1980s, according to reports in The Sun, he and several
partners built the $20 million Harrison's Pier V at the Inner Harbor.
The partnership defaulted in the mid-1990s and the city took over.
But in the eyes of gaming wardens, Harrison is now more infamous than
According to police and court records, Harrison has been fined for
violating state fishing regulations at least three times in the past 13
In 1993, Harrison was found guilty of possession of striped bass out
of season and fined $3,500, with $1,500 suspended. But the captain had
friends in high places.
The governor wrote a letter to the judge praising Harrison's
character, and the Department of Natural Resources secretary at the time
testified for the defense. Harrison also was fined for illegal
possession of striped bass in 1999 and 2000.
In July 2006, the Maryland Natural Resources Police said an officer
caught Harrison again, this time with undersize striped bass at his
seafood processing plant.
In court papers filed in yesterday's federal case, undercover U.S.
Fish and Wildlife agents contacted Harrison's Country Inn and Sport
Fishing Center in late 2005. The two agents put down a deposit for a day
of goose hunting at $185 apiece.
When they arrived at 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2006, the agents drove to
the designated farm field in Bozman, followed by Harrison in his Hummer.
The license plate read CPBUDDY.
At the field, Harrison set up decoys and used a birdcall to attract
geese, court papers say. After one of the two agents had killed his
daily limit of two Canada geese, the agent told Harrison they had
reached their daily bag limit.
Then Harrison's employee piped up, according to prosecutors. With
Harrison standing nearby, the unidentified employee said the agents
could shoot the employee's limit, too.
The agents eventually shot a total of eight geese, court papers say.
Harrison warned them while he went to fetch lunch that they should hide
any excess birds in their car to avoid detection from law enforcement.
As the day ended, Cap'n Buddy, ever the host, posed for a picture
with the agents and their geese. They revealed themselves and charged
him moments later.