Thirteen Kernels of yellow corn were carefully catalogued and marked into permanent federal court records here yesterday as alleged proof that four St. Marys County men were hunting wild ducks in an illegally baited area.
But after listening to four hours of expert testimony centering on the 13 grains of corn, Judge C. Stanley Blair, also a duck hunter, concluded that the corn was insufficient evidence to prove the hunters lured wild ducks to their small blind.
The story began at dawn Jan. 6. The hunters, Joseph L. Higgs, 37: James M. Goldsborough, 25: William M. Hayoen, 22: Samuel C. Spaiding, 24, and a fifth unidentified man, stared through high-powered binoculars at federal game agents who staring back at them across St. Clements Bay in St. Marys County.
The fifth hunter, who according to testimony, had ruined his hunting license by inadvertantly washing it in his laundry, left the blindbefore the agents came.
As the hunters expected, the game agents finally crossed the creek. The agents said they wanted to see why tour groups of wild ducks seemed unusually attracted to the blind.
The agents scraped the bottom of the creek seven to eight times with a two-foot wide scoop. They said they discovered that the blind was baited with nine kernels of corn in the creek and four kernels on the shore.
The hunters were charged with illegally attracting wild ducks and seven ducks they had shot were confiscated.
The judge said 13 kernels of corn left him with reasonable doubt that the duck blind was baited, but he admonished the hunters. "I have a strong feeling somebody's going to be looking over your shoulders" when next hunting season starts.