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Doing 'the right thing' nets generous reward for Piedmont teens

Easton Karum, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught at his neighborhood pond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Easton Karum, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught at his neighborhood pond. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Two Piedmont teens who confronted a man illegally netting a bass at a Canadian County pond were generously rewarded for their actions with two lifetime fishing licenses from a Norman resident.

Josh Grogis, of Norman, bought the licenses for the boys after seeing a video of the incident on social media.

"Those boys did the right thing," Grogis said of his gift to 14-year-old Easton Karum and 13-year-old Ryder Jones. "It's not a reward in my mind. It's kind of like acknowledging the fact they protected Oklahoma's wildlife that day and here is their pay."

Not only did Grogis buy the boys, whom he had never met, two lifetime fishing licenses at a cost of $225 each, but he also gave each a $150 Cabela's gift card and a favorite fishing lure of his and his father's.

The confrontation occurred a couple of weeks ago when the boys were fishing at a neighborhood pond.

"We see a guy come up and he starts cast netting bass right off their beds," Karum said.

When the man netted about a 3-pound bass off the bed and put it in a bucket, Karum decided to inform him it is illegal to keep game fish caught in a cast net.

"We let him know, 'Hey dude, you can't keep a bass out of a cast net. You can keep a bass on a rod and reel,'" Karum said. "He was not having it. He got all salty and started cursing at us. We called the game warden, and he told us to get his tag number, so that's what we did. I went up and took a picture of his plate, kind of secretly. I guess he saw me do that because he got out of his car real quick and threw the fish back."

Karum said the man became really angry when told the game warden had been called.

"It was a little scary," Karum said.

Jones filmed the incident and Karum later posted it on Facebook. From there, the video started spreading on hunting and fishing message boards.

Grogis, who is U.S. Rep. Tom Cole's chief of staff and an avid angler and hunter, saw the video on social media.

"I didn't think that was a way an adult should talk to anybody, let alone 14- and 13-year-old boys," Grogis said. "I wanted them to have a positive experience out of all this."

Grogis said he was raised by a father who taught him to respect wildlife and fish and game laws. He was impressed by what the boys did.

"Those are the kind of sportsmen I think we need," Grogis said. "Guys who want to be out there enjoying the resources and doing it the right way so future generations can do the same thing."

Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Wildlife Department, confirmed a game warden tracked the man down and issued a ticket, which has already been paid. Holmes cautioned, however, against approaching suspected poachers to avoid violence.

"We encourage folks to observe from a distance, write down the information and call the game warden," he said.

Karum's father was not surprised by his son's actions.

"He is very passionate about the outdoors, especially fishing," Josh Karum said. "He is truly a watchdog toward our resources."

Josh Karum is chairman of the Oklahoma chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Easton is an active member in the organization and at one time considered a game warden as a possible career. The teen now wants to become a fishing guide.

Most of the feedback on social media has been positive toward the boys, but others left comments saying they should mind their own business and calling them snitches and tattletales. Others downplayed it because it was just one fish.

"Most people think one fish isn't a big deal, but when they are spawning, a fish can lay a ton of eggs, so that is potentially hundreds of fish he could have impacted," Easton Karum said. "I realize those laws are there for a reason. They are there to protect our wildlife. If there were not laws to protect fish and game, we wouldn't have any. I care about that stuff."

Grogis said watching the video reminded him of an unpleasant experience that he had fishing when he was young. That's part of the reason he wanted to buy lifetime fishing licenses for the boys.

"Someone was a jerk to me, and I didn't want to go back and fish that lake again," he said. "I just didn't want that to be the case with them."

Related Photos
<strong>Ryder Jones, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught on Lake Tenkiller. [PHOTO PROVIDED]</strong>

Ryder Jones, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught on Lake Tenkiller. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ae9f3629ced26fc06b530444e04b87c2.jpg" alt="Photo - Ryder Jones, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught on Lake Tenkiller. [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title=" Ryder Jones, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught on Lake Tenkiller. [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption> Ryder Jones, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught on Lake Tenkiller. [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-263d4fa32976de757d7bf84517f3b1d5.jpg" alt="Photo - Easton Karum, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught at his neighborhood pond. [PHOTO PROVIDED] " title=" Easton Karum, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught at his neighborhood pond. [PHOTO PROVIDED] "><figcaption> Easton Karum, of Piedmont, holds a bass he caught at his neighborhood pond. [PHOTO PROVIDED] </figcaption></figure>
Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›

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