NEWS
10/20/2011 06:37 EDT | Updated 12/20/2011 05:12 EST

Jeff Foiles, Celebrity Hunter: Crippled Duck Puppet Show Didn't Seem Cruel

EDMONTON - American celebrity hunter Jeff Foiles didn't think he was being cruel when he played with crippled ducks in front of a video camera, prolonged their suffering before wringing their necks.

"I guess I was wrong. They said I was wrong," the 54-year-old said Thursday from his home in Pleasant Hill, Ill.

"Nothing was meant to be the way it came out to be. I think a lot of it was taken out of context."

Earlier this week, an Edmonton judge agreed with a joint recommendation by lawyers to fine Foiles $14,500 and ban him from hunting in Canada for three years.

Foiles said he's a "hard-core hunter," but he's being responsible and taking his lumps.

He is also getting ready to start a 13-month prison sentence in the United States for other wildlife offences. He is to check into the minimum-security prison work camp near Marion, Ill., on Nov. 21.

"It's not going to be fun, but it's part of what they give me. I don't have a choice."

Foiles hopes to get out early for good behaviour.

He pleaded guilty in September to cruelty to animals under the Criminal Code as well as to fine offences under the Migratory Birds Act. Those charges included exceeding daily bag limits of ducks and geese, hunting birds from a power boat and not immediately retrieving and killing wounded birds.

The worst offences were captured on video.

The commercial videos Foiles makes under the brand name Fallin' Skies are especially popular in the United States. Some of the videos, featuring hunts in Alberta, were sent to Canadian Crown prosecutors by investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

During one of his videotaped hunts in Alberta in 2007, Foiles is seen holding up a wounded duck he calls "Mrs. Mallard.'' He wrenches its neck and opens its mouth while making quacking noises.

In another hunt the next day, Foiles manipulates a wounded duck for four minutes, whacking it on the head with a duck call, covering its head with an empty shell box and playing peek-a-boo. He later places his fingers over the bird's nostrils and holds its beak closed while asking "Is this how you want to die?''

The cameraman is heard urging Foiles to kill the duck in a tone that suggests he doesn't think his antics are funny.

A wildlife expert testified that the birds were conscious, alive, and suffering extreme pain and stress.

Foiles said his behaviour is "a hard thing to explain" and he eventually did wring the birds necks to kill them.

He said his company, Foiles Migrators Inc., is still producing DVDs and his crew filmed some hunts this year in Ontario.

But he won't be aiming a gun again any time soon. Besides the ban in Canada, Foiles is prohibited from hunting in the United States for three years. He must also pay an additional $100,000 fine.

The American charges relate to guided hunts Foiles led with the Fallin' Skies Strait Meat Duck Club between 2003 and 2007. He encouraged hunters to exceed their daily bag limits. Foiles and other workers then falsified hunting records.

Foiles pleaded guilty in June in an Illinois court to two of 28 wildlife charges. The club also pleaded guilty to the two offences and is to be sentenced Dec. 20.

Foiles said he is no longer a partner in that company. He said his son and daughter basically run his DVD business and they'll continue to do so while he's in prison.

"Our business is good. It's solid, and we have a lot of loyal customers we've had for years."

He said he doesn't expect his legal troubles will have an impact on his celebrity.

"(Fans) totally understand what this is about. I have ten times the support in good emails than I have bad ones."

Foiles said the Edmonton judge explained that the hunter would not have been extradited to Canada to face such minor wildlife offences. But he said he chose to face the charges because he'd like to return someday.

Despite his criminal record, he thinks crossing the border won't be a problem.

"Canada's a great country," he said. "I do like comin' there and I would like to return, whether it's nothin' more than just to visit."