As happens every year, multiple men were arrested this past holiday season for attempting to hunt flying reindeer out of season. Game warden Jonathan Strauss says the numbers get higher every year.
“In a few years, we’re going to have half the county in these cells,” said Strauss, pointing behind him to multiple full cells. He claims the cells are full, but due to all the hunters being dressed in camouflage, this reporter was unable to see any of them.
“Reindeer season is in July. If you want to hunt flying reindeer, you have to do it in July,” said Strauss.
Reindeer season was moved to July in 1999 after Saint Nicholas successfully sued the federal government for unsafe working conditions. Lobbyists from various hunting groups claimed that eliminating flying reindeer season would violate their rights to feed their families. In an attempt to compromise, the EPA changed federal guidelines to place flying reindeer season in July, with the head of the EPA at the time stating, “If you can find a flying reindeer anytime during the month of July, feel free to shoot it.”
The change hasn’t stopped most hunters from still posting on their roofs on Christmas Eve every year with night vision goggles, rifles, shotguns, and their “lucky skinnin’ knives.” Sheriffs across the U.S. and Anderson County in particular have taken to simply cruising along the more rural roads and arresting anyone they find on a roof, although in recent years, this has led various hunters to start carrying Christmas lights with them in an attempt to claim they were merely adding last minute decorations to their home. Unlike the lights, the idea has been viewed by defense attorneys as none too bright.
Old Abe “Tin-Eyed-Muzzle-Loader” Campbell has been arrested ever Christmas Eve for the past 27 years, but he’s still confident in his ability to “bag” a flying a reindeer before he’s too old. He’s spent nearly $10,000 in fines, and his wife divorced him, but he’s still confident he can do it.
“I’m gonna mount it on that wall right there,” said Campbell, pointing to an empty space on the wall between a framed portrait of Ronald Reagan a framed copy of the Constitution. “Yep. Gonna put it right there. It’s gonna be real great. Really tie the room together.”
Saint Nicholas, for his part, has taken the whole affair with the grace one would accept from a man who rampantly breaks into peoples’ houses each year.
In hundreds of years, he’s never lost a reindeer, and only sustained very minor cuts and brushes himself, and because of this, he’s taken to mocking the would-be hunters by gifting them skeets, target dummies, and toy reindeers.