Outdoors Corner: Cheaters!

Lyle Johnson

I remember a few years ago, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents cited a Denham Springs man with 26 alligator violations. The agents cited David Caveretta for a multitude of violations.

Among the charges were four counts of taking alligators without a license, four counts of taking alligators during a closed season, four counts of failing to comply with alligator tagging requirements, 10 counts of illegal possession of alligator skins with parts and four counts of not abiding the nuisance alligator program rules and regulations. 

All these violations occurred in Ascension and Livingston parishes over the course of the past two years. “Well, there’s another outlaw, killing alligators when he ain’t supposed to, I hear about it all the time.” Could be what you’re thinking? But this guy was enrolled in LDWF’s nuisance animal program and was a permitted nuisance alligator hunter.

You see, he had applied for and was granted a permit to help people remove alligators that were a danger to humans and pets. He wanted to do the public a service and “help a brother out.” But somewhere along the line he chose to be selfish and cheat me and you in a very despicable way.

Seven-year-old Tucker Beeson is the son of Adam Beeson and grandson of Ricky Beeson. He shot this deer with a .243 at 50 yards in Area 3 in  Vernon Parish.

During the investigation, LDWF agents learned that Caveretta was using his nuisance alligator complaint tags on alligators that were not nuisances.  The agents found that if Caveretta was given a complaint tag for a specific alligator and that alligator was too small or if he couldn’t find that particular alligator, that he would use the nuisance tag to kill a larger alligator taken from a different area than the original complaint.

 Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents seized 10 alligator hides along with Caveretta’s remaining 13 unused alligator tags and his nuisance hunter permit. LDWF also removed Caveretta from the nuisance alligator program. The agents participating in the case are Lt. Will Roberts, Sgt. Randy Lanoux, Senior Agent Clarence Marques and Senior Agent Garrett Kimble.

Failing to adhere to nuisance alligator program rules and regulations and failing to comply with alligator tagging requirements each brings a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail for each count.

Taking alligators without a license carries a $250 to $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail for each count. Taking alligators during a closed season and possessing alligator skins and parts each brings a $400 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail for each count. You kinda hope he gets it all, right?

I get press releases from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries when they send them out and read about fish and game violators all the time. It usually perturbs me as the folks at this agency spend a herculean amount of time, effort and taxpayer (that’s you and me) money trying to make sure we have fish and game to pass on to the next generation.

But for all the “cheaters” who get caught, there are probably 20 times more who don’t get caught. Being an outdoors person, my opportunity to hear and even see photos of folks who have cheated the system and the public are way too many to count.

The conversation goes like this:

“Been fishing lately?”

“Yeah, man, the specs were biting so much that three of us limited out in an hour, so we went back to the truck and dropped them off. We went back and caught another limit. Man they were tearing it up.”

Another one:

“We’ve got a camp in the Spillway, and the sac-a-lait are tearing it up so much we can limit out, (50 per person) head back to the camp and leave the ice chest there. We get another one and do it again!”

A proud father had been showing me pictures of frogs his daughter was catching. He’d shown me two or three froggin’ trips, and I was pretty impressed with her skills. Then he showed me a photo of a mess of frogs they’d caught along with a bonus catch; a dead alligator they’d shot while catching frogs.

“Cheaters never win” is a saying I’ve heard since I was a kid, and I often wondered if that was really true because sometimes it seemed like they did. As I’ve lived my life, it’s a bit easier to see that the saying is true, even if they did get away with the act at the time.

That daddy showed his daughter you can get away with breaking the law by killing the gator and nothing happened. The next time she’s tempted to “cheat” in some way or another, it will be easier for her to try because she suffered no consequences the first time.

The scene repeats itself again and again. Perhaps she ends up like the guy at the beginning of the story, with handcuffs and an arrest record or worse. Then we’ll all wonder how that could have happened to such a nice kid. Well, she learned from her dad. He taught her well. Cheaters never win, especially in the long run.

This is what the waterfowl hunters will be looking forward to on opening morning of duck season.

Duck hunting season is just around the corner. From what I’ve been seeing and hearing, this season could be the best one in a long time. The East Zone includes our area: Nov. 13 (youth and veterans only), Nov. 20 - Dec. 5, Dec. 18 - Jan. 30 and Feb. 5 (youth and veterans only). The West Zone: Nov. 6-7 (youth and veterans only), Nov. 13 - Dec. 5, Dec. 18 - Jan. 2 and Jan. 10-30

So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Outdoor Calendar

  • Hunter Education Program: Hunter education classes have resumed. Classroom; online with a field shooting day and online for students who are 16 years or older. Website: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/hunter-and-trapper-education
  • Squirrel and Rabbit Season: Through Feb. 28. Daily bag limit eight; possession 24.
  • Deer/Archery: Through Jan. 31, State Deer Areas 1, 2 and 4; Through Feb. 16, State Deer Areas 5, 6 and 9; through Jan. 15, State Deer areas 3, 7, 8 and 10.
  • Duck Hunting: East Zone: Nov. 13 (youth and veterans only), Nov. 20 - Dec. 5 and Dec. 18 - Jan. 30, Feb. 5 (youth and veterans only). West Zone: Nov. 6-7 (youth and veterans only), Nov. 13 - Dec. 5, Dec. 18 - Jan. 2, Jan. 10-30
  • Wildlife & Fisheries Commission Meeting: 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4, Joe Herring Room, state Wildlife and Fisheries headquarters, Quail Drive, Baton Rouge.

Need an event publicized? Contact Lyle at reelman@eatel.net