systematically continued to work his way into the confidence of Berwick and
other hunters. Like Berwick, they hunted for the most part at night,
concentrating on localities where ducks and geese rested or fed. Some gunners
baited and shot from blinds. Others would stalk the birds and fire point-blank
into grounded flocks. All used illegal "Long Toms," shotguns fitted
with special magazines that could hold a dozen or more shells. None of the men
were much concerned about game wardens. "Never mind the wardens,"
Stefano was told, "we know what they're doing every minute. We keep a tail
on them whenever we are working."
built his case. He bought ducks from as many hunters as he could, carefully
tagged them and stowed them in a freezer. On a New Year's Eve at the Top Hat he
was offered the best duck dinner in the house, gratefully ate it and then
slipped the bones in his pocket to add one more item to a growing body of
One night at the
Top Hat, according to Stefano, he was challenged to prove his bogus profession.
Boortz dropped by his table and flashed a diamond ring. "What about
it?" he asked. "You're supposed to be an expert."
out his "loop," the traditional jeweler's eyepiece, and studied the
ring for a long five minutes.
"I told him
the stone was one carat and 32 points," Stefano reports, "but that it
probably wasn't too valuable because it had a tiny fissure and a carbon deposit
on it. Boortz just laughed and told me I was right, that he'd been told the
same thing by another jeweler."
With his case
almost complete, Stefano was confronted a fortnight ago by Constable Franks who
accused him of being an FBI agent, and reported rumors that a mass raid was in
the making. Stefano stoutly denied everything, was backed up by Boortz and
survived unscathed. Still, there had been a leak, and it is a testament to
Stefano's courage that he made one more buy. Unarmed as usual, he met his
contact in a deserted field near Liberty, paid for the ducks and walked away.
This hunter, when arrested, had a revolver in his pocket and, it developed, had
once beaten a man almost to death.
No one, least of
all Supervisor Merovka, was naive enough to believe that the arrest of the 53
hunters and accused buyers would permanently solve the market hunting problem
in Texas. Sportsmen, however, could concur with Merovka's restrainedly
triumphant post-arraignment comment: "Too many people find this an easy way
to make a fast buck. This may help take the dollar signs off geese and
It started a
year ago when Mrs. Joyce Wood, 46-year-old wife of a Salem, Ore. dentist,
decided to go fishing and couldn't locate any worms. Piqued, she ordered 20
fine breeding worms from California and started to ranch her own.
At last count
Mrs. Wood's worm herd numbered 18,362 and she is firmly in the business of
selling them. "Everything I can find to put them in is full of worms,"
she remarked recently. "My husband, who doesn't know much about them,
pretends they're not around."