YouTube duck poacher offers apology

The now-infamous duck-shooting video shows three men trying to kill birds seemingly without a care...

The now-infamous duck-shooting video shows three men trying to kill birds seemingly without a care in the world. A recent interview with one alleged shooter revealed remorse.

MICHAEL PLATT

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

CALGARY -- He's really, really sorry.

Really.

David Fraser can't apologize enough, as he talks about ducks, guns and stupid decisions, knowing the anger of countless Canadians will soon be focused on the little Saskatchewan town he calls home.

"What can I say? We've never been in any kind of trouble before. We're just three young guys who made a stupid mistake," says Fraser.

"Not that it's any excuse, but we honestly didn't know it was crime -- if we did we wouldn't have uploaded it to the internet and we never would have done it in the first place.

"We really didn't know and we're very sorry about it."

That Fraser speaks quickly, sounding worried and a bit jittery as he throws out explanations and apologies, isn't too surprising.

This morning, 30-year-old Fraser will join his 23-year-old brother James Fraser and their brother-in-law Jeremy Rowlands at a Saskatoon courthouse, where the trio will answer to charges of slaughtering ducks for fun.

A flood of tips to Saskatchewan's anti-poaching line led to the arrests made by wildlife officers and RCMP.

Until today's court appearance, the trio had anonymity to shield them from the barrage of loathing aimed at the unknown men in the online video, who laugh with cruel glee as they shoot at ducks swimming in a small pond.

Now, the three men from Cudworth, Sask., will be known to all. Public fury that's been festering for more than a week will finally have a focus. It won't be pretty and Fraser knows it. There's already been vague threats.

"I have children, and we live in a small town, and I read one post about the ducklings being orphaned, and there was a post saying, 'I hope they have kids so we can take care of their kids and show them how the ducks feel', " says Fraser.

He knows many people, including furious hunters and livid animal-rights advocates, see him and his comrades as blood-thirsty savages who killed the ducks for a sick thrill.

But really, says Fraser, that's not who they are. Not at all -- the laughter over orphaned ducklings and dying birds was out of character.

"Is there remorse over killing the ducks? Absolutely. We're all pet owners here, both cats and dogs, and we're not in the habit of killing animals normally."

He says sorry again, repeating that he had no idea duck hunting from the window of a car, with a rifle, was not allowed in Saskatchewan.

Fraser and his brother, you see, aren't from the West. They arrived in Saskatchewan a half-year-or-so back, from Toronto, where he says the only birds they ever saw were seagulls and pigeons.

Fraser says the video which has acted as a catalyst for anger and outrage was only posted because it looks so much like other YouTube videos, showing proud hunters and their quarry.

"We'd been on YouTube, and we saw all sorts of things being killed, like skunks and rodents," he says.

"It was just one of those silly things -- we didn't think hunting ducks was that big of a deal."

Except when you shoot ducks out of season, with a rifle, from your car and the roadside, it's called poaching.

It's that clear difference that's enraged the hunting community across North America, and catching the trio of duck killers has been the hottest topic on hunting forums from Alberta to Texas.

Fraser says sorry to the hunters, too.

"It was a really stupid, stupid mistake," he says.

"I feel bad for the hunting community and we understand how this has portrayed them, giving hunting a black eye."

And today, in court, the charges will be heard and their names will be made public. Fraser says he'll say sorry one last time and he hopes it's enough.

"If they give us a chance to speak, we're going to offer up a very sincere public apology," he says.

"We're really sorry."

MICHAEL.PLATT@SUNMEDIA.CA


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