Dumbest Poacher Awards
We’re no strangers to people acting like morons online. Just putting a keyboard in front of someone is enough to turn that hapless soul into a stark raving lunatic without a filter.
Case in point, these three hooligans from the Sunshine State. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, four Florida men face various poaching charges after an anonymous complaint about some Facebook photos.
Travis Clayton McFatter, 27, Blake Dalton King, 20, and Zachary David Espenship, 20, all of Lake City, Fla., and Dustin Wayne Parrish, 26, of Lulu, Fla., were cited by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for hunting violations after posting photographs showing McFatter and King with some freshly killed turkeys and a gator, prompting the FWC to get to know these fellas a little better.
According to an FWC report, McFatter told investigators he had killed five turkeys during the season and took two gobblers in one day. The problem, of course, is that the legal daily limit is one turkey per day with a season limit of two. The FWC reported McFatter also posted a photo showing three harvested turkeys, which he had received from Parrish, his cousin.
In addition, McFatter defended the gator photo by alleging he’d found the gator dead on the side of the road. He said he claimed the carcass, took it home and ate the meat—all without properly tagging the gator. Altogether, McFatter was charged with taking over the daily bag limit for turkeys, three counts of taking over the season limit of turkeys, possession of an untagged alligator, and two noncriminal citations for no hunting license and no turkey stamp.
Meanwhile, King admitted to killing four turkeys, then gave investigators permission to search his truck.
“Mr. King gave permission to search his truck, and investigators found fresh blood in the bed and on the tailgate of his pickup,” said FWC investigator Todd Hoyle. “He told us that he and his friend, Mr. Espenship, were headed home from their hunting club and saw a deer standing on the shoulder of the road. Mr. Espenship then shot the deer.”
Espenship confirmed the story, telling investigators the deer stood blinded by the truck’s headlights, and that he used a Winchester .22 to shoot it. He was forced to hand over four bags of venison and the rifle as a result.
King was charged with two counts of taking over the season limit of wild turkey. Both he and Espenship were charged with taking deer out of season and taking deer at night by use of gun and light.
As for Parrish, he admitted to taking three turkeys—two on Opening Day and one on Easter—and was charged with taking over the daily and season bag limits. In case you lost track, that’s 13 misdemeanors and two infractions relating to 12 turkeys, one deer and an alligator.
“This is a great case and shows how our investigators and officers work together, as well as how important it is for us to follow up on complaints we receive,” said FWC area supervisor Capt. Martin Redmond.
Couldn’t have said it better, Captain. For being so brazen as to take more than their fair share of wild game, and then to actually brag about it on Facebook, we at Petersen’s Hunting award these degenerate dimwits the prestigious “Social Media Morons” Award.
We outdoor writers know more than anyone how far some folks will go to bring home a trophy. If our wandering editor Mike Schoby isn’t in the office, it’s a safe bet he’s off on some adventure halfway across the planet.
Of course, before we head off on these hunting getaways, we always make sure our licenses, passports and other important paperwork are in order before we even step foot in an airport.
Apparently legality takes a back seat for some hunters.
Take this brainless quartet from Louisiana, who drove all the way from the Bayou to Iowa in order to take five deer illegally, according to the Hamburg (Iowa) Reporter, racking up a total of 76 hunting violations.
According to WOWT Channel 6 in Omaha, Neb., James Keith Moore, 41, of Hammond, La., and Michael D. Fralick, 45, of Ponchatoula, La., were each charged with 32 counts of deer-related violations across four southwest Iowa counties. Each numbskull racked up a fine of $6,123.90, in addition to $25,000 per deer in civil damages being sought by the state.
The other half of this lot of losers—Stanley B. Russell, 46, of Roseland, La., and William H. Chambliss, 39, of Kentwood, La.—were both convicted of six counts of deer-related violations in Montgomery County, Iowa, and were fined $1,823.40 apiece. They are also faced with civil damages—$10,000 apiece—being sought by the state.
In addition, the state has also requested the forfeiture of the four rifles used in the crimes. To top it off, Fralick, Russell and Chambliss are all facing similar poaching charges in Kansas.
The 10-month investigation began in November 2011 when the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department received an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources received a similar phone call around the same time, linking the cases together.
We understand road trips are a fun way to connect with your buddies—and hunting road trips are even better. But don’t be like these idiots; get all your paperwork lined up before you hit the road, and when you get to where you’re going, always do things by the book—an unethical hunter is not really a hunter at all.
As for these clowns—who drove halfway across the country to illegally take a few bucks in the rut—we at Petersen’s Hunting award them the prestigious “Road Trip!” Award.
Last week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife demoted one of its employees from the field as a law enforcement officer to another park, where he now serves as a technician. The real question is why he has a job at all.
That’s because Travis McKay, a park ranger at Trinidad Lake State Park, was ticketed for poaching a trophy mule deer after hunting hours using artificial light, according to The Denver Post. According to Rick Cables, director of CPW, plenty of people within the organization were upset McKay wasn’t fired. No kidding.
According to The Denver Post, the officer who stopped McKay after his kill noticed it wasn’t tagged properly. McKay then lied to the officer about when the deer was shot, but text messages from McKay’s phone indicated it was well after dark. Eventually McKay admitted to using artificial light, was fined $11,000 and demoted to maintenance worker at another park.
We understand not everyone is as quick to fire a person as Donald Trump, but this is a bit ridiculous. After completely violating everything a park ranger—and a park service—is meant to protect, there’s no way you can keep a person like that on your staff and retain your credibility as an organization. Yes, he got relegated to the Siberia of the parks department, but it’s not enough. The punishment falls woefully short of the crime.
As a result, we at Petersen’s Hunting are presenting McKay with the “You’re Fired!” Award. It’s not quite as good as the real thing, but it’s just about as shameful.
After months of investigations regarding the discovery of 10 headless buck carcasses in the Okanogan area, state wildlife officers finally busted the responsible party, which they say is a group of related individuals all working together to spotlight and poach trophy deer.
You could say they forgot to use their heads, the success then went to their heads, they lost their heads and now heads are gonna roll. So many head jokes, so little time.
“This was a poaching ring, and spree killing,” wildlife supervisor Jim Brown told the Wenatchee World. “All of the suspects in this case know each other. They’re interrelated, and doing this together, or as part of a common scheme.”
Wildlife officers executed search warrants last week and found the heads all stacked neatly in a pile. So far a 24-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the case, while more arrests are likely on the way. State officials began investigating the poaching ring last November after multiple residents reported headless deer carcasses left to rot.
The biggest travesty of all became apparent when wildlife officers loaded up the trophy deer heads in a public parking lot. Local residents stopped to take a look at the trophies they could have hunted legally if not for the ring of headless criminals. While the impact of losing 10 trophy bucks from the local gene pool can’t be easily repaid, the poachers face a $6,000 fine for each buck they killed.
Sticking with the head-related theme these headless idiots left us with, we’re presenting them with the “Off With Your Head” Award, because they clearly don’t have any use for them.
There are no stupid questions. We’ve all probably heard your mother utter this phrase at some point.
Unfortunately, it seems that Donald Ward might have just proved your mom wrong.
Ward, of Brownsburg, Ind., recently plead guilty to three misdemeanor counts for poaching a 10-point buck from the road. Not only did he poach the massive buck from the road at night and out of season, Ward also used a .270, which is not permitted even during rifle season.
When finally confronted by Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Jeff Wells after his arrest, Ward asked the now infamous question: “If I admit I killed it, can I keep the rack?”
No, genius, you do not get to keep the rack. Ward also told the Indianapolis Star in an interview after his arrest that he was so overcome by the size of the deer he couldn’t stop himself from shooting it.
The sad thing is that the state offered a plea bargain erasing any jail time or felony charges, reducing the sentence to 178 days of probation and 80 hours of community service. There ought to be a felony charge just for asking a question that stupid.
Despite what we’ve been told, there are stupid questions because there are stupid people. For helping us see this truth yet again, we at Petersen’s not-so-proudly present Ward with the “Stupid Question of the Year” Award.
Behind hurting or killing yourself or a hunting partner and breaking game laws, wounding an animal instead of making a clean kill should be one of hunters’ top concerns. After all, we want to be as humane as possible when we take the life of an animal.
And if, God forbid, that happens, the goal is then to make a kill as quickly as possible and end the animal’s suffering.
That notion apparently never entered the minds of Scott Lee and Nai Saechao. According to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls about a tan Toyota SUV driving down the road with blood dripping out the back. When the callers tried to get a look at the duo, the truck would speed off. Talk about drawing suspicion.
Understandably concerned, deputies quickly tracked the vehicle down and discovered a deer carcass flooding the back with blood. An investigation revealed that Lee, 46, and Saechao, 32, had shot the buck from the road, then loaded it into the back of their vehicle when it collapsed.
In a scene straight from the Chris Farley classic Tommy Boy, the deer apparently regained consciousness as the numbskulls drove off. Since there were still more laws to break that night, one of them allegedly climbed back there to take the deer down Psycho style, stabbing the deer to death and resulting in a river of blood flowing out of the car.
For being so idiotic that you not only shot a deer from the road, but stabbed it to death in your car–and for not letting the buck destroy your car like David Spade’s, like you deserved–we here at Petersen’s Hunting award Lee and Saechao the prestigious Holy Schnikes! Award.
For the rest of us sane folk, enjoy this classic bit of comedy gold:
After successfully poaching the first elk and sneaking it out of a no-hunting area near East Pierce County at 1 a.m., the men returned nine days later for their second “trophy” elk, according to KIRO-TV. It was at that point that state fish and wildlife officials busted the two men, who were again trying to sneak the second elk out of the restricted area, this time at 2 a.m.
According to wildlife officials, they carried out a search warrant at the home of one of the men, where they confiscated several illegally poached birds of prey and portions of the elk remains. They were also forced to turn over all their hunting gear, elk racks and meat, spend some time in jail, and could possibly pay up to $1,000 in fines. Until recently, Washington simply fined trespassing poachers $250 and let them keep their animals.
First of all, the state of Washington was kind of asking for it by not enforcing stricter laws for trespassing. We still can’t figure out why the penalties there are still so lenient. But second, and more important, are you really dumb enough to poach one trophy elk, and then return a week later to pick up the remains of a second? And you thought no one would notice? For that alone we’re passing along the “Manifold Morons” Award.
For 76-year-old Joe Norbert Hendricks, a 38-year veteran hunting guide from Alaska, that irony is ringing in his ears to the tune of $125,000. Of all the names he could have chosen, Hendricks owned and operated Fair Chase Hunts, which has been anything but.
Hendricks pleaded guilty to 16 counts of illegal big game hunting, all of which took place in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He was ordered to pay damages and to forfeit participation in anything hunting related for five years. Though legally permitted to hunt in the area by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Hendricks admitted to illegally lending his land to other guides in exchange for money, as well as doctoring the horns of sheep his clients shot and hiding the bodies of other illegally killed game.
Fair Chase? We think not. Illegal chase. Unethical chase. But not fair chase.
And then there’s that one little time where he kinda sorta shot an undersized Caribou, told his employees to hide the body, and then completed a form shortly thereafter saying he didn’t even hunt Caribou. Not what we typically think of as “fair.”
Dear father time, former master poaching guide: “Fair Chase” probably wasn’t the best choice for your brand, as it isn’t exactly internally consistent with your mission statement. Out of the generosity of our hearts, we at Petersen’s Hunting want to offer you a simple two-step recovery program.
Step one, when you feel inclined to poach again, go ahead and find your fist and punch yourself in the throat. Rinse and repeat. Step two, when you suddenly get the urge to name anything next time—your dog, a truck, a pet rock—we recommend an outside opinion from an authorized third party. The first part of recovery is admitting you’ve got a problem.
And finally, Mr. Hendricks, we cap things off by naming you the non-meritorious winner of our “Captain of Irony” Award.
We’ve seen a lot of bizarre stories come across our screens, but this tall tale from Texas has to rank among the strangest.
According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, a Red River County game warden and two Bowie County deputies received a tip about a possible road hunting incident near a residence.
Apparently, a couple outside their home heard gunshots, and the husband — drunk as a skunk — hopped in his truck to track the shooters down. When he did, he began firing upon their vehicle with a handgun. Of course, the “hunters” called 911 to report they were being shot at, but when they were contacted by game wardens, they denied having a part in any illegal hunting.
However, believing their 911 call had been dropped (it hadn’t), operators heard the poachers say mind-numbingly stupid things like, “Hide the gun in them woods,” and, “Not that far, we’re gonna come back and get it tonight.” Morons.
After being confronted with the recording of their admitted crime, the trio each made statements about several burglaries they had committed, and also confessed to killing an 8-point buck last August, trespassing on the land and leaving the animal to rot. Sickening.
While 24 charges were piled on the three poachers, the trigger-happy, vigilante land-owner was charged with DWI and deadly conduct.
Granted, the landowner should probably put the bottle down next time he decides to play outlaw superhero and chase down criminals, but since this is “Dumbest Poacher Awards” and not “Dumbest Landowners,” for blurting out your crime for everyone to hear like some cheesy Hollywood villain, we at Petersen’s Hunting award this trio of trespassers the prestigious “Is This Still On?” Award.
Every kid makes stupid mistakes; that’s just part of growing up. It’s what we choose to do after making those mistakes as kids that determines how we’ll turn out. If we learn from those mistakes and correct our own errors, then we’re heading down the right path.
But if you choose to take life advice from 19-year-old Colton Lapp, you might as well just burn your hunting license and camo, then hand your bows, rifles and shotguns over to whoever will take them.
According to the Northern Wyoming Daily News, Lapp received 18- to 24-month prison sentences and forfeited his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for life after he was convicted of three felony counts of taking antlered deer out of season, the first felony poaching case in Wyoming history.
This all comes after Lapp was convicted of two similar charges in 2010 — including illegally killing a 210-inch muley — for which he was placed on probation.
Tsk-tsk, Colton. Not only did you get caught poaching, but you didn’t learn and got caught again. For not learning from his mistakes and forfeiting his outdoor privileges, we at Petersen’s Hunting award young Mr. Lapp with the prestigious “And Stay Out!” Award.
Generally speaking, we have no qualms with our local law enforcement agencies. After all, they’re the ones who ultimately publicly humiliate moronic poachers, making this wonderful feature possible.
But just because someone wears the badge doesn’t make him above the law, and when two officers are caught committing a crime, we expect them to face the penalties just the same as anyone else.
Take these two coppers from South Africa, who were caught red-handed by a farmer while poaching a pregnant bushbuck in the wee morning hours of June 23 near Shelly Beach on the South Coast. The officers, driving a police vehicle and using a police-issued rifle, fired three shots at the doe around 3 a.m., awakening a farmer, who then followed the van driven by one of the cops; the other had been left behind and actually walked to a nearby plantation.
The two were arrested and charged with hunting a wild animal without a permit.
For having the audacity to use official police equipment to poach wild game — pregnant wild game, at that — we at Petersen’s Hunting award these two flatfoots the prestigious Protect & Serve Award.
Here’s some advice for all you aspiring filmmakers out there: If you want to actually kill a deer in your latest cinematic endeavor, you’d better have the license to do it.
That’s what the minds behind the indie film First Winter found out after killing two deer on camera. Apparently, the moviemakers intended to kill only one deer for their film about a group of Brooklyn hipsters surviving an upstate New York winter, but the bullet passed through the targeted doe, killing another deer standing next to it.
Adding to the list of what-the-hell-were-you-thinkingery is the fact that the filmmakers apparently had no idea you couldn’t just walk out into the woods and shoot a couple deer, resulting in actor Paul Manza being charged with shooting both deer without a license — and out of season.
“We are idiots. We didn’t know how to do this [hunting] stuff,” director Ben Dickinson told DNAinfo.com.
No shit, Sherlock. Maybe you’re just too cool for filling out proper registration, or maybe you’re just plain stupid; at any rate, we at Petersen’s Hunting award the makers of First Winter with the prestigious Hipster Douchebag Award.
We hate poachers; that’s no secret. But we especially hate poachers who try to claim longtime records with their illegal kills.
That’s what David V. Kent tried to do back in January when he entered his 14-point buck in the Monster Buck Classic in Topeka, Kan., presented by Mossy Oak.
Scoring an unofficial 198 7/8 on the Boone & Crockett system, the antlers were the largest entered in the event, but were disqualified when Kent admitted wrongdoing to state officials, who compared Kent’s claim to a trailcam image taken in October of the same buck. Had the deer been taken legally, the antlers would have beaten a 35-year-old record set by Dennis Finger, who shot a buck scoring 198 2/8 in 1974 in Nemaha County.
For cheating in an effort to break a longstanding, honorable record, we at Petersen’s Hunting award Kent with the prestigious Barry Bonds Award*.
We see a lot of dumb poachers in the news, and each and every one of them provides a good laugh over our morning whiskey, and also validates our own existence, making us feel much better about ourselves.
So imagine how good we felt about ourselves after reading about this loser. Photographer Charlie Long snapped some photos of this Elmer Fudd wannabe helping himself to a few snow geese at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna, Del., one of the top gatherings for snowies in the country.
Apparently, this bumbling burglar thought he was perfectly within his rights to just cap a few geese with his trusty shotgun from the side of the road. After Long and a few other witnesses apprehended this moron, Cpl. Julie Jones with the Delaware Division of Natural Resources informed the poacher that he was waaaaay in the wrong. As Long told our sister magazine, Wildfowl, “He plead ignorance. She said, ‘This is a federal refuge and you are in possession of lead shot, shooting from a roadway and have no hunting license, and are in illegal possession of waterfowl without stamps and have unlawfully discharged a weapon inside a federal refuge.’”
For being in the frame of mind to think it’s OK to just illegally pop a few geese in broad daylight on a busy road, we at Petersen’s Hunting award this camera friendly goose killer the prestigious Gotcha! Award.
In this high-tech digital age, we’re taught to be careful about what we post on sites like Facebook. Potential employers may not find the humor in that photo of drunk, shirtless you wreaking havoc on the streets of south-side Chicago during the St. Patrick’s Day parade a few years ago. You know the one we’re talking about.
Be that as it may, some just can’t help but jump at the opportunity to publicly humiliate themselves via social media. Take Darin Lee Waldo, a Davenport, Fla., native who openly bragged on Facebook about how he illegally killed several whitetails. This moron even extended invitations to illegal hunts to undercover wildlife agents who had messaged him through the social networking site.
To top it all off, Waldo is a convicted felon who shouldn’t have even possessed firearms in the first place. The Aristocrats!
For posting anything and everything without thinking like some brain-dead teenager, we at Petersen’s Hunting award Waldo with the prestigious Social Media Slut Award.