Jeff Foiles was a rock star in the world of waterfowl hunting -- until the feds drew a target on his back

Jeff Foiles was a rock star in the world of waterfowl hunting -- until the feds drew a target on his back
Jennifer Silverberg
Jeff Foiles

Dawn burns pink into Canada on September 10, 2007, and a duck is about to get its head blown off.

Rock-star waterfowl hunter Jeff Foiles and three buddies lie on their backs in a stubbly hay field. They're wrapped in layout blinds, which resemble straw-covered sleeping bags. As they peek their heads out and quack with calls, beckoning to the birds above, three ducks respond and glide within range.

Foiles lets loose his signature command: "KILL 'EM!"

He blasts his shotgun at the middle bird, spraying guts and feathers into the morning light. The duck's head helicopters away while the body sails down with a thwump. One hunter giggles.

Foiles addresses his clip-on microphone. "Folks," he intones, "Fallin' Skies 5 has just begun." This was exactly the footage he wanted.

Over the past decade, 54-year-old Jeff Foiles of rural Illinois minted his own style of whack-em-and-stack-em hunting DVDs. He makes them to create buzz for his most lucrative products: Duck and goose calls, or reeded whistles that sportsmen blow to attract winged migrators. (Some Foiles calls sell for as much as $170.)

Foiles isn't the only call-maker to market himself thus. Phil "The Duck Commander" Robertson of Louisiana and Fred Zink in Ohio both produce videos, which might include a severed head or limb — after all, shotguns aren't gentle tools. All such entertainment amounts to avian-death porn, at bottom. But there are degrees. Jeff Foiles and his fans unapologetically favor hard-core.

Fallin' Skies 5, released in May 2008, was a three-hour murder fest set to crunching heavy metal. Earlier volumes of the series introduced Foiles as an earnest outdoorsman. By this fifth volume, the transformation was complete: He'd become a brash, hard-driving, all-American badass bird assassin.

"We're gonna see if we can't shoot their beaks off," Foiles boasts to the camera at one point, his chiseled, goateed face streaked with camo paint. Later, he quips that an upcoming hunt "will be a bloodbath, and you'll need blood goggles."

Seasoned hunters will admit that they, too, laugh after a kill — less in mockery than as a relief valve for the tension that builds before an ambush. To some, Foiles' laughter in Fallin' Skies 5 seems darker. He amuses himself by shooting wounded birds already on their way down. He even taunts his prey — some dead, others still alive.

And that's only the footage selected for the DVD. Certain parts were edited out. Such as the end of that hunt in Canada. On camera, Foiles tallied up the bodies. "Got eight," he said, acknowledging that he can't shoot more by Canadian law. But he wasn't ready to stop.

He asked his cameraman, Paul Sawyer: "Do you want to shoot?"

"You keep going," said Sawyer, who didn't possess a hunting license. "We'll make some good movies." And good movies they made. With the camera rolling, Foiles proceeded to kill eight more ducks that day — twice his legal bag limit.

About a week after the DVD's release, federal agents raided Foiles' shop in Pittsfield, Illinois, seizing that footage and more like it. They soon managed to convince many of his closest associates to testify against him in exchange for immunity.

By January 2011 Foiles had been indicted in the United States on 23 felony counts and in Canada on additional criminal charges, including cruelty to animals. All of the charges stemmed from his hunting activities. Much of the evidence against him had been captured on film, unwittingly, by his own crews.

"Basically, the way the government has portrayed Jeff is that he is the spawn of Satan," Foiles' attorney, Ed Fanning, said in early September. "They're setting an example. He's become the Martha Stewart of duck hunting."

Indeed, Foiles' many supporters insist he's the victim of a federal witch-hunt, which has overshadowed his good deeds: He's donated his merchandise to soldiers overseas, his time to youth waterfowl camps and his money to Ducks Unlimited — a conservation nonprofit.

But even by his own admission, Jeff Foiles screwed up. Now he's facing the consequences.

Says his former business partner, Denny Marschuetz: "Wherein this tragedy lies, 99 percent of the time he hunted legal. There were definitely violations. But in the end, what got him was his bold arrogance."


In hunting, men may change tactics, but nature never does.

Each autumn, frigid weather in Canada drives waterfowl south along four broad "flyways" through the United States. One route follows the Mississippi River. In the heart of this flyway, right before the Illinois River drops into her mighty sister, the waters carve out a narrow peninsula above St. Louis that's rippled with ridges and forest. Here, three generations of Foiles men looked skyward for sport, and for supper.

A century ago, when Jeff Foiles' grandfather Merlin tramped across these hills and riverbanks, folks referred to a plump harvest of birds as "the strait meat."

These days, Foiles uses "Strait Meat" as his own personal brand (he sells "Strait Meat" calls, hats, shirts). But for him it's more than just a description of a good day in the field. It's an attitude. "Strait meat" hunting eschews fancy tactics in favor of bread-and-butter fundamentals — skills he had to master in the geography of his youth.

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44 comments
myrainybaby
myrainybaby

@ This man disgusts me! He takes pleasure in killing & torturing animals anyone who does that something is seriously wrong with them mentally. Then I believe he purposely killed his friends dog. This man is cruel & evil!

Citoriplus
Citoriplus

Finally the truth comes out? In todays liberal media of deception created by unethical measures I feel that the facts have come through in the article. I feel for Jeff and completely understand how one is able to get the adrenaline rush and the greed that ensues. Gambling can be the same way. I am hoping that he will be able to follow through w/ his judicial orders and his life will once again be on to the waterfowl.

sistersista
sistersista like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sick Sick Sick...have you checked to see if any infants or toddlers are missing from their homes? too bad his kind cant get equal treatment.

Maloju
Maloju

I met this clown years ago at Game fair and instantly knew the guy was a total jerk. As previously mentioned hunting is not about commercialization and money and it is just simply killing the sport.

If Ducks Shot Back
If Ducks Shot Back like.author.displayName 1 Like

I can think of a number of ways to describe Jeff Foiles. Most of them involve the word "bag".

Berger
Berger like.author.displayName 1 Like

And the icing on the cake is the jackhole will tell you duck hunting is a SPORT. If the ducks volunteered to participate, if they were armed with rifles, binoculars, night gogles, audio magnifiers, camoflage to make them almost transparent, cover and shelter to wait for their unsuspecting prey, little instruments that made noise like human speech, and the willingness to sacrifice themselves for such a sport, then guess what, it might be a sport - albeit a sadistic one!

Ask the duckhunters you know just how much duck they eat. These jacko--- aren't participating in a sport OR hunting for food. They love to kill.

Lilponder68
Lilponder68

Me and my family eat every duck or animal I kill. They were put on this earth by the lord for a reason. Acts 10, 10-13.

The Voice of Reason
The Voice of Reason

It's good that you eat what you kill. It's bad that you think a fairy tale gives you the right.

I Eat Ducks
I Eat Ducks

God doesn't believe in Atheists, either.

Lander1
Lander1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well it just goes to show you what money and greed can do to a person. Foiles is just another piece of crap worthless man that let stuff go to his head. He should have been convicted of every charge for the maximum sentence. He obviously has some mental issues as well for treating wounded animals the way that he did. Anyone that buys his crap after this should have their heads examined as well.

Tphillipsstl
Tphillipsstl

that's a pretty ignorant characterization of hunters. Have you ever had a rational conversation with a hunter or ever been on a hunt to see what really happens? That's about as reasonable as me saying all musicians are sex-crazed drug addicts because i saw the Doors movie.

Danieljoeoconnor
Danieljoeoconnor

excellent story and great pictures. that foiles isa despicable piece of crap. if i had been present when he was torturing those wounded ducks i'd probably shot him with my crossbow. whata a brutal evil lowlife piece of human fecal waste garbage.

KITTY
KITTY like.author.displayName 1 Like

There's a hunter named Jeff FoliesWhose ass is all covered with boilsThey didn't hurt, he didn't scowlHe just kept on killing beautiful waterfowl.

the truth will set you free.
the truth will set you free.

"If you're facing 23 felony counts, usually the government is not going to let you walk away without a felony conviction," said Foiles' attorney, Ed Fanning. Obviously this was a he said/she said case where Foiles clearly won. The real disappointment is how the Feds handled the case and all of the MONEY THE FEDS SPENT on the case. I'm sure it was well over the fine that Foiles had to pay.

Marschuetz may not have been the perfect partner either. I'm sure he was reluctant to comment on his own business faults. Props to Foiles for taking the high road and not bashing those who bashed him. "Criticizing others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves."

There are two sides to every story.Before you write your comment on here, reread the section about Travis Wood and how internet bashing turned out for him. http://www.stopcyberbullying.o...

Don't believe everything that you read in a newspaper. Bigfoot & aliens have not been spotted either...

MichiganHunter
MichiganHunter

The term,'' Rock Star'' is grossly misused in this headline. After what Foiles has been documented as having done, he can hardly be classified as a Rock Star. In my opinion he got what amounts to a slap on the wrist. He gives a black eye to the 99.9% of the rest of the hunters who do abide by legal & ethical standards. He should have had his hunting privileges revoked for life!

Rocky
Rocky like.author.displayName 1 Like

Rock Star? A better desdciprion is just another sadistic asss who loves to kill animals. Typical - just can't kill enough. And yea, I bet he had that shitt-eating grin on his face everytime he took a life. He probably laughed out loud if it was terribly injured or spitting blood all over, or trying to survive while injured. Rock star? Give us a break. You couldn't print on the cover of RT what he really is.

Andy C
Andy C

Rock star a la Ozzy Ozbourn. I'm willing to bet most of his kill ended up in some roadside ditch or trash can instead of in the freezer. Think about it - if you limit out in two days you are at your possession limit - 12 ducks. If you hunt full time you have to eat a lot of mallards, pintails, and shovelers to stay legal. He would have to eat duck for every meal and then some. Absolutley no respect for the game, the sport, and certainly none for the other waterfowl hunters. This kind of bad behavior not only makes the majority of hunters who are ethical sportsmen look bad, it spreads like cancer, can only wonder what kind of influence he had on the others. Consequently I will second the motion that he got off way too lightly.

Oakmossy
Oakmossy

What exactly are you implying? That anyone who kills animals is sadistic and similar to Jeff Foiles? You're wrong. Jeff Foiles is an aberation and an exception not the rule in the hunting community. If you can't tell from the comments to this article the vast majority of hunters and fishers are appalled at the behavior revealed in this article. There's nothing wrong with taking life and it must be done, to plants and animals, by every living organism on the planet to survive. His taking pleasure in hunting is not the problem but rather his deep psychological issues causing him to inflict unwarranted suffering and torture on the animals he harvests.

MOutdoorsman
MOutdoorsman

As a Missouri hunter, fisherman, and conservationist I’m very upset with Jeff. I’m pissed at the feds as well for how easy they went on him. He should have gotten jail time and a much bigger fine. Jeff’s limit violations and his unethical methods are atrocious, but he and those like him have done far more damage to hunters than they know.

Hunting, fishing, and outdoor life are under political and cultural attack in this country and as we become more urbanized there are more people that look at Jeff’s bloodlust, his canned hunts, and lack of ethics and would paint all hunters and outdoorsman with the same brush. Hunting, fishing, and human conservation efforts have enemies in this country and Jeff and others like him unwittingly provide these groups with ammunition. I speak of course of those that would rather sterilize deer than hunt them or advocate against maintaining hunting habitat on the grounds that it is not ecologically friendly. These are just examples of some of the uneducated and uninformed interest groups among many many others that threaten our ability to hunt and fish or would regulate it to a point where it becomes practically impossible.

Hunters in the U.S. have been blessed with a tremendous bounty of fish and wildlife, a bounty that was unthinkable to our ancestors arriving from other places where hunting and fishing was reserved for only the highest strata of society. As the largest segment of the population using these resources, it falls on us, not others, to be the most responsible population conserving it and ensuring that it still exists for future generations to use in a similar fashion. There are those that would close down all human interaction with parts of our environment, except of course for those with the correct “attitude”, and bring back the good old days when nature and its resources were reserved for a special elite to enjoy.

Jeff Foiles is not a hunter and does not represent the 99.9% of other hunters and outdoorsmen that are ethical. He is a sadistic, thoughtless, glutton with a hunting license that forgot the resource he was harvesting belongs to all of us and in so doing has done a great disservice to the hunting community. I’ve seen this kind of behavior in the field and I make it my business to call people out on it. If you enjoy hunting and fishing in this country please do the same.

MOutdoorsman
MOutdoorsman

As a Missouri hunter, fisherman, and conservationist I’m very upset with Jeff. I’m pissed at the feds as well for how easy they went on him. He should have gotten jail time and a much bigger fine. Jeff’s limit violations and his unethical methods are atrocious, but he and those like him have done far more damage to hunters than they know.

Hunting, fishing, and outdoor life are under political and cultural attack in this country and as we become more urbanized there are more people that look at Jeff’s bloodlust, his canned hunts, and lack of ethics and would paint all hunters and outdoorsman with the same brush. Hunting, fishing, and human conservation efforts have enemies in this country and Jeff and others like him unwittingly provide these groups with ammunition. I speak of course of those that would rather sterilize deer than hunt them or advocate against maintaining hunting habitat on the grounds that it is not ecologically friendly. These are just examples of some of the uneducated and uninformed interest groups among many many others that threaten our ability to hunt and fish or would regulate it to a point where it becomes practically impossible.

Hunters in the U.S. have been blessed with a tremendous bounty of fish and wildlife, a bounty that was unthinkable to our ancestors arriving from other places where hunting and fishing was reserved for only the highest strata of society. As the largest segment of the population using these resources, it falls on us, not others, to be the most responsible population conserving it and ensuring that it still exists for future generations to use in a similar fashion. There are those that would close down all human interaction with parts of our environment, except of course for those with the correct “attitude”, and bring back the good old days when nature and its resources were reserved for a special elite to enjoy.

Jeff Foiles is not a hunter and does not represent the 99.9% of us that hunt ethically. He is a sadistic, thoughtless, glutton with a license that forgot the resource he was harvesting belongs to all of us and in so doing has done a great disservice to the hunting community. I’ve seen this kind of behavior in the field and I make it my business to call people out on it. If you enjoy hunting and fishing in this country please do the same.

Sportsman
Sportsman

MOoutdoorsman - well said. While the author of this piece certainly knows his audience and wrote with the intent to rile his fellow liberals, you have very eloquently made the points many of us outdoorsmen and conservationists wanted to make.

If Ducks Shot Back
If Ducks Shot Back

"the intent to rile his fellow liberals"

Oh really? It's all politics with you, huh. How about "the intent to rile his fellow . . . human beings", because if you aren't riled by the accurate depictions of torture, not to mention blatantly illegal activity which tarnishes the reputation of all hunters . . . then you probably are lacking a good portion of what makes humanity "good".

Cody Williams
Cody Williams

I have to say that as a committed waterfowl hunter, Foiles represents most of the ways things can go wrong in hunting. Commercialization and money are not what hunting is about. Clearly hunting became about inflating his own ego instead of paying respect to the game and the hunt. It also results in a public image black eye for the 99 percent of waterfowl hunters who hunt ethically and respect. Hopefully this will all give Foiles a chance to return to what's important in hunting.

 
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