TWRA cites TV snake preacher: An East Tennessee preacher who gained fame through a TV show about his handling of venomous snakes has been charged for violation of state regulations, and is scheduled to appear in court this week.
Andrew Hamblin, pastor of the Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, was cited after Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers discovered 50 reptiles -- including venomous rattlesnakes and copperheads -- in his home.
The snakes had been used during snake-handling religious ceremonies featured on the National Geographic TV show, "Snake Salvation."
Alerted by the TV exposure and "public complaints," TWRA officers arrived at Hamblin's home and charged him with possession of Class I wildlife (wildlife inherently dangerous to humans.) He admitted his possession of the snakes and turned them over to authorities. The snakes were confiscated and taken to the Knoxville Zoo to be held as evidence in the case.
A district attorney involved in the case said "possession of a large number of venomous snakes is a significant public safety hazard. I appreciate the TWRA's efforts to keep the public safe."
In addition to the statute about safety, TWRA regulations prohibit the capture and confinement of any type of snake or other wildlife species.
The TV show depicts the snakes being captured out-of-state and brought back to LaFollette, site of Hamblin's church.
Snake handlers -- many of whom, according to the show, have suffered serious bites -- defend their practice under freedom of religion. However, those defenses are over-ridden by statutes regarding public safety and state wildlife regulations.
Trap shooters: Ben Schade is accepting applications for the Cedar City Straights, a scholastic trap-shooting team for Wilson County youngsters age 10 through high school. For information contact Schade at email@example.com or at the Cedar City Gun Club.
Rob Mathis won a shootoff with Danny Shaw to capture last week's trap shoot honors at the Gun Club, after both shot 45's in regulation.
Tim Whitlock was top sub-junior (40) and Billy Robb top veteran (36).
Muzzleloader harvest down: During last week's opening weekend of muzzloader deer season r season, hunters killed 17,4289 deer -- down 1,026 from last year's opening weekend.
Part of the problem is that this year's muzzleloader season opened almost a week later that last year's, costing hunters several prime days.
Muzzloader season ends Nov. 23, the opening gun season, although hunters have the option of continuing to use a muzzleloader rife or archery equipment.
Deer season runs through Jan. 5.
Aug. 24-Feb. 28: squirrel season
Nov. 2-Feb. 28: rabbit, quail season
Nov. 9-22: muzzleloader season
Nov. 23-Jan. 5: deer gun season
Dec. 3: trout stocking begins
PHOTOS WELCOME: Caught a big bass or bluegill or bagged a deer or turkey? Share your favorite outdoors photos with readers of The Lebanon Democrat by e-mailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org