The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday passed on the chance to consider a case challenging a set of state hunting regulations forbidding hunters from using dogs or ATVs to hunt deer.
A pair of hunters from deep south-central Missouri had challenged the regulations as unconstitutionally vague. Both hunters were affected by a November 2008 sting in which a group of state conservation agents disguised themselves as so-called “deer-doggers” and monitored hunters in the Mark Twain National Forest.
The authorities arrested one of the plaintiffs challenging the regulations, Neil Turner. Turner eventually pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to illegally hunt deer and paid a $1,500 fine.
In 2010, then-Ripley County Circuit Judge Robert Smith sided with the hunters and invalidated the regulations. But a panel of Southern District judges rejected the hunters’ constitutional challenge in large part because they lack of standing.
Devin Kirby of Doniphan, an attorney for one of the hunters, said he still needs to review the decision with his client.
“The court never really ruled on the validity of the statutes,” Kirby said, just the plaintiffs’ lack of standing. “That leaves open the possibility of someone who is a hunter in Missouri and who hunts around or near dogs to come into court and still challenge the regulation.”
The case is Neil Turner and Bobby “Shannon” Jones vs. Missouri Department of Conservation, SC92029.