But during the 2009-10 hunting season Kinsland faced his biggest hunting disappointment.
Sitting on a deer stand on the WMA last November, and after having already seen a buck earlier in the day without getting a clear shot, Kinsland heard hogs squealing.
“I didn’t head to my stand that morning to get a hog,” said Kinsland. “I was deer hunting and wanted a deer. But, these hogs were there and I said to myself that if they pass a clearing I will go ahead and shoot at them.”
After a little while the sound of hogs moving and squealing went away. However, later in the day he again heard some commotion and movement coming from the same area where he had heard hogs squealing earlier.
This time he saw what he thought were the hogs he had heard moving from the area of the noise and crossing at an angle in front of him at about 100 yards in light brush. Kinsland picked out a clear spot in the brush that was about 75 yards from his deer stand and set his crosshairs on that mark in case one of the “hogs” passed through the clearing.
“The first one entered the clearing and I fired,” said Kinsland. “I then waited a little while longer for the second one to come through, which I knew was a little smaller. After getting tired of waiting, I dismounted my stand and walked over to the downed animal. When I got about 40 yards away I noticed the other one sniffing around and shot that ‘hog’ too.
“It wasn’t until I got within about 20 yards of the smaller, second one that I realized what I had shot. I just stood there for a while in disbelief and in sadness for the two bears.”
Kinsland had mistaken a Louisiana black bear and her cub for feral hogs. He contacted his longtime friend and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Red River WMA Supervisor Johnny Warren, who quickly notified the LDWF Enforcement Division.
“I immediately knew I was in a tough bind, but I am glad that I turned myself in since I try to teach my two young daughters and family honesty. By walking away from this incident I would be living a lie,” said Kinsland. “It was not a pretty picture that I was facing, but I had to deal with it.”
The LDWF agents issued Kinsland citations for two counts of taking bear in a closed season.
In August, Kinsland pled no contest and was sentenced to 120 days in jail (suspended), a $950 fine, 24 months of supervised probation and had to pay restitution of $5,000. He was also ordered to get his hunter education certification and to speak in 24 other LDWF approved hunter education courses to share his experience.
“I’m really enjoying my time with the hunter education courses and plan on becoming a volunteer certified hunter education instructor even after my court ordered courses are finished,” said Kinsland. “I try to explain to the class that even the most experienced hunter can make the same mistake I did and that you have to be able to see the snout, head and ears and make a positive i.d. before shooting at a feral hog.”
With Louisiana black bear and feral hog populations on the rise in many areas in the state, hunters are reminded that positive target identification is the most important rule in hunter safety and a basic component of legal game harvest.
Black bears and feral hogs share similar body styles and appearance, so hunters must be especially careful when hog hunting in areas where bears may be found.
Since 2001, the Louisiana Black Bear Repatriation Project has moved 48 adult female black bears with 104 cubs from the dense black bear population in the Tensas River Basin to the area called the Red River Complex, totaling 179,604 acres. The Repatriation Project was initiated to help rebuild the historic population of black bears in central Louisiana.
Since 1992, the Louisiana black bear has been protected because of its threatened status under the Endangered Species Act. Restoration and conservation efforts have led to increasing numbers of black bears. LDWF is working aggressively toward the goal of removing the Louisiana black bear from the threatened species list and having sustainable populations that offer regulated hunting opportunities in the foreseeable future.