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Man Found Innocent of Game Law Violations For Shooting Stuffed Turkey

May 15, 1985

LEE, Mass. (AP) _ A man has been found innocent of violating the state’s game laws after a judge ruled that a stuffed wild turkey is not a wild turkey.

″It wasn’t a turkey,″ District Judge Clement A. Ferris said Wednesday. ″If it had been painted on the side of a door it wouldn’t have been a turkey either.″

Craig Woods, a state Department of Natural Resources Officer, was on patrol Monday when he noticed a parked van containing camouflage clothing and other gear suggesting someone was hunting wild turkeys in the area.

Turkeys are in season, but only from a half-hour before sunrise until 11 a.m. in an attempt to protect the females, which ordinarily stay on their nest until midday.

After watching the van for a while, Woods decided to try to flush the hunter he suspected might still be tracking turkeys after the forbidden hour of 11 a.m.

At 11:01 a.m. he placed a stuffed hen turkey, which he calls Mary, in a bush. Mary, killed while trying to cross a road, still has her original feathers but her head is plastic.

A few minutes later, Woods said, he heard a hunter’s turkey call.

At 11:38 a.m., he said, Timothy J. Ford, 41, of Hudson, appeared and bagged Mary with a shot from a 12-gauge shotgun that blew off the plastic head.

Woods charged Ford with hunting after hours and took him and the remains of Mary before Ferris in Southern Berkshire District Court.

″We maintained it was the intent that mattered. He was out with his turkey call hunting turkeys and in fact he did shoot a turkey, even though it had expired some time previous,″ Assistant District Attorney William Rota said Wednesday.

″It was a handsome turkey. The handsomest turkey I’ve ever seen,″ Rota maintained. ″The guy even told the judge he shot the thing. He said he had just lost track of the time.″

But Ferris took one look at Mary and declared ″not guilty.″

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