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Supporters of Jeff Foiles, Convicted Illinois Waterfowl Hunter, Speak Out

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This company's CEO, Art Ladehoff, has chosen to stand by hunter Jeff Foiles
Celebrity waterfowler Jeff Foiles of Pleasant Hill, Illinois has been trashed a lot lately for his hunting crimes both here and in Canada. But not by everyone.

Foiles, 54, has admitted to shooting over his bag limit, falsifying his records to hide it, and causing "unnecessary pain and suffering" to an animal (for more details, see our current feature, "Fowl Play").  He's been sentenced and fined in both countries, and will soon serve 13 months in federal prison.

While many commenters in online outdoors forums impugn Foiles' character, plenty of people in the outside world stick up for him.

"I have no reason not to stay with Jeff on this thing," says Art Ladehoff, CEO of Big Foot Decoys.  (Decoys are fake ducks and geese used to attract real birds).
Ladehoff's company has remained a sponsor of Foiles even while others, such as Realtree camouflage company, have run for the hills.

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Image via
Art Ladehoff, founder of Big Foot Decoys
The price of his loyalty? Three calls of complaint and a hassle with Cabela's.

"Cabela's raised hell until we got his picture off our box," Ladehoff says. "A year or two ago, they fought like hell to get it on there."

(It's unclear where Cabela's stands on Foiles. In September, Foiles' attorneys wrote in a court pleading that the business relationship between hunter and retailer was "terminated." But the Cabela's website is still offering many of his products for sale.  A spokesman for Cabela's did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)

Ladehoff recalls how, ten years ago, he realized that competition in the decoy business was getting fierce.

"The only thing that saved us is that we had Jeff come along," he says. "He's a hard-working S.O.B. If he tells you he's gonna do something, it's gonna get done. Despite the bad-guy image he projects, he's a really good guy."

While Ladehoff is quick to praise Foiles, some speak even more highly of him.

In August, 2009, an Army soldier named Eric Bakken fighting in Afghanistan logged into the Foiles Migrators online forum.

"Things are getting really violent," Bakken typed. "I have seen some really bad things in the past week." But one thing cheered him.  He'd just heard from his mother. She'd gone to a tradeshow and found his hero, Jeff Foiles. And as Foiles often does, he loaded her up with merchandise and autographed a call for the soldier.

"I was the happiest I have been in months," Bakken wrote upon hearing the news. "The the little acts of kindness he did shined a big light in a very dark and violent time."

When Bakken returned stateside in 2010, Foiles invited him to his home for Thanksgiving dinner. The soldier then appeared in Foiles' latest DVD, Foiles and the Migrators.

Bakken's mother, Trish Madia, says that during her phone conversations with her son, she's heard his friends in the background blowing Foiles' calls in the mountains of Afghanistan.

"It was his movies and calls that those guys turned to to get through tough times," she says. 

As noted in our feature, at least three military units have sent Foiles American flags they'd carried on missions in the Middle East. He displays them in his showroom.

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And then there's conservation.

A spokesperson at Ducks Unlimited, a non-profit dedicated to restoring and maintaining wetlands for waterfowl, declines to confirm whether or not Foiles has donated, citing a privacy policy.

But Foiles says he has donated "thousands" to the organization, buying several sponsor memberships at $250 a pop.

Says his attorney, Ed Fanning: "It's a big deal just to buy one of those."
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Buck Andy33
Buck Andy33

Yes I think every hunter has made a mistake here and there, but what Jeff foiled did was blatant disregard for the law! Not just once but on multiple occasions and in more than one state/country. Just because he is a "celebrity " doesn't excuse his violations! If you or I or Joe average Guy would have been caught in violation like him, we would never be allowed to hunt again. He shouldn't either, his actions have shown that he thinks he is above the law.

Mark
Mark

A witch hunt?  Have you lost what's left of your mind?  This poaching POS got off on just a couple of misdemeanors when he was facing multiple felonies.  The fact that his company took it in the ass for the felonies is ridiculous.  What I can tell you is that many of the outfitters who still support this bastard are the very ones that were poaching with him (like here in Colorado).  Foiles took the rap, probably because of his money for high-fallutin defense attorneys, and the outfitters got off.

As far as his "support for our troops", I am a retired Army veteran, and am sick and tired of all the businesses out there "supporting our troops" because it makes for good public affairs.  Any member of the military, with a shred of integrity, would not give this bum the time of day.

Scott is correct re. Bigfoot's support of Foiles.  Sound like Art is more concerned about making a buck than he is with upholding the integrity of the sport that he is making money from.  You'll never find me owning a Bigfoot decoy...

If anyone out there has any respect for waterfowling and its future, you will never patronize anyone who continues to support a poacher like Foiles and Foiles Migrators.

Mark 

Lpwinks
Lpwinks

Everyone makes mistakes. Looks like he is going to pay for his.When he gets out wish l wish him good luck

Scott
Scott

Give me a break: Bigfoot is supporting Foiles on this?  All these guys do in the waterfowl industry is constantly go to bed with other companies.  Ask Art who Foiles was with 2 years ago?  He was with Final Approach.  When that money dried up, he went and signed a new contract to promote Bigfoot products.  There's no loyalty in waterfowling: an originator like Art should know that by now.  We'll see how long their relationship lasts....

Jeff
Jeff

Its a witch hunt!! I believe theirs more of a set up involved and the dnr looking to make a name and some money..  I have met and spoke with Jeff at the game fair in M.N. this year and the man is larger than life... He looks you in the eye when he shakes your hand and goes out of his way to help. He has support our troops and countless other charities.. I am not saying he didn't screw up but the punishment recieved is excessive to say the least and anyone who speaks differently isn't a sportsman because at some point in your hunting, fishing, trapping of guideing everyone makes a mistake and does something against the law so if you say you haven't you either a liar or you don't do any of the formentioned..  Whats done is done leave it alone....

Midwstdsgn
Midwstdsgn

Yes we all make mistakes. But do we intentionnaly plan on making these mistakes? No, but Jeff did. And often. Not just here in the U.S. but in Canada, and over many years.How many planned mistakes is OK with you? A true hunter, who obeys the law would not stand behind Jeff. You either stand with the the law or against. Which are you? ( I think we all know) 

Stick_slinger32
Stick_slinger32

I am a true hunter and a supporter of the laws even when i dont agree with them..  As far as your snide comments go YES I beleive he should pay for his crimes but also I know how our government aggencies are with making a big story and blowing things up bigger than they are. O and one last thing dont talk to me like i dont obey the law my family runs a taxidermy business so if you know anything about that ( I am sure you don't ) you would know I couldn't possibly be a violator, you don't know me and dont pass judgement if that was the case i would just call you Obama or maybe just another tree hugger...

If Ducks Shot Back
If Ducks Shot Back

As a former Marine and veteran of the first Gulf War, I find it rather disturbing that any member of the US Military would idolize a sadist and criminal such as Jeff Foiles.

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