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8 Biggest Poaching Cases in U.S. History

by Doug Howlett   |  September 26th, 2011 27

Poaching. It’s an abhorrent crime and one of the extremely rare areas where lifelong sportsmen and misguided antis can even agree—violators must pay and pay dearly! Whether it’s the quest for bigger antlers, the chance to profit off  a trophy or the selfish desire to hold false bragging rights on one’s hunting skills, it seems the degree of atrocities committed by today’s outdoor criminal out-shocks the masses with each new headline.

As one would expect, as these criminals raise their level of lawlessness to new heights, judges are responding with bigger fines and longer jail time for the Nation’s most belligerent offenders. Following are eight of what are believed to be some of the biggest poaching cases in U.S. history and sadly, all of them have been committed in just the last five or six years.

Click through the photos below for all the details. Be sure to let us know if we missed any egregious offenders.

  • David Ransom

    No mention of Claude Dallas?

    • jeff

      I've got to support David Ransom on this. Why no mention of Claude Dallas, perhaps the most notorious poacher in all U.S. history? Not only a disreputable poacher, he executed two game wardens who were investigating him.

      My favorite wild game? Poachers!

    • G. Warden

      Dallas was a poacher and murderer of the lowest class, question is where is he now?

  • TODD

    well thats why I can not get any trophy deer !!

  • Ron Keegan

    $2,500 and one year probation… Do ya think that's gonna stop em? Ya right!!!

  • Dahlgren John

    The ultimate in deterrence apparently did not occur, none of them stepped on a "live dud" and cured his nasty habit permanently – always a possibility when you're dumb enough to go hunting in an impact area.

  • john a.

    lets see…60 clientsX$2,500/$5,500 i figure between $63,000 to $300,000 take home. 5yrs, the mounts, and $70,000 in fines. they still made out like fat rats! whose doing the math over there, anyway???





  • G. Warden

    In N. California the last few years, several arrests of south east asian poaching rings have been made, they were night hunting and spotlighting deer and shooting them with small caliber rifles deer by the hundreds were shot and wounded. This is a huge problem. Add illegal alien marijuana growers to this list who poach and pollute at the same time and shoot people.

  • Bilmisno

    We had a case here in the Low Country of South Carolina back in the mid 80's where 7 people were convicted of shooting 149 wood ducks over the limit on a single hunt….. Bobby Mead who is the owner of Wapoola plantation where it occured was one of the ones arrested

  • Wnorris

    The year after the Texas gang got caught and lost the lease on the Kansas ranch they hunted I got the opportunity to hunt it and all we heard in this small Kansas town were stories about these poachers and their clients. The Texas Attorney General at the time was one of their clients.

  • F Johnson

    The fines and punishment for the actions of these men is unbelievable. I believe they should never be able to hunt in any state and their homes, guns and everything they have that could ever be used in hunting be taken away. It will never be stopped anywhere when the folks that do it get a smack on the hand,

  • Ronnie Day sr.

    I dont thik the puinshment can ever be enough. The fines and jail time is a good start but it should be put on tv all year long,along with ther faces and state. Then let the one,s who abide buy the law have a turn at them.

  • Thomas Johnson

    I live about 30 miles from where this took place. The TV News on all the Nashville stations ran it over and over. The men's faces are well known by now. I agree they can't fine them enough but the judges take into consideration the men's family's and prefer not to punish them because of this. I've Deer hunted since the mid 60's when I could count all the hunters I would see in a year on one hand and this is by far NOT the worst I've seen. I live on 300 acres and only hunt here and kill the same quality deer as these, passed on two small bucks this evening, Crossbow. I have problems with "Spotlighters" but after being here 15 years they have learned to avoid me. They never know when I'm sitting in the woods at 2 am with a 300 Win Mag and a 165 BTHP sounds nasty when it travels 10 ft over your head, or so I've been told. If it's meat they wanted I'll give it to em, with a 3 a day limit from now til Jan on anterless and way too many around here to begin with. I supply several diabetics with meat, myself included. The worst I ever knew of was a man who was taking 100 or so a week to Union City, TN and getting 25 cents a pound from a packing house. A little red deer meat mixed with a lot of pork fat makes a lot of sausage that sells for much more, till they got caught.

  • Doug

    Hey David, you're right about Claude Dallas. Probably should have included him just based on the heinous nature of his actions in killing two game wardens. At the time I put this together, was looking largely at what states and federal agencies were billing as the most far reaching poaching efforts. Certainly as terrible as the illegal loss of hundreds of animals is, it doesn't even begin to compare to the taking of human lives. Thanks for pointing that out. Might be a good follow up to this piece.

  • Brent

    In Texas we have Operation Game Thief. It is a way for people to report possible game violations as they are happening. It all boils down to is we all need be involved in the anti poaching effort. Don't turn a blind eye because it does not directly effect you.

  • Gilberto

    I wish I could make all those killed animal live again
    They are prettier alive than dead

  • Roger Holman

    Thanks to the editors of Petersen Hunting for reporting quality stories, you have top notch writers.Roger in S.C.

  • Danny T.

    The fines that are levied against these poachers don't seem high enough. These month long investigations cost tens of thousands of dollars. The fines should at least cover the cost of the investigations

  • taytondeerslayer

    I have poached before its not fun when u geet caught just dont get caught

  • johnny red

    claud dallas is my child hood hero.wish there were more like him. hewas a loner and those two wardens were azz.holes that had no place to be bothering him.i know this situation i live close by .dont trust the law they are the real i have delt with them and i know first hand they are worse than claud. keep up the good work claud

  • DWHunter

    They sure ain't handing out any penalties that will stop poaching!

  • DWHunter

    Johnny Red…. your an idiot!

  • Ernesto

    Claude was my hero to I lived in northern nevada when this happened the game wardens had it comeing

  • Tautog59

    A new type of hunt is about to open up,it will be costly,but once again thru the sale of tags and the like,wildlife will be able to continue.this new hunt will be bagging poachers,shooting and killing them should help to stop them a little

  • Mr.J

    All the biggest US poaching cases were committed in the last 5-6 years because we’re in an economic crisis. Poaching is just one of those things where a lot of people just can’t except is in our human nature. We’ve been hunting sense the beginning of man, and now that money is in short supply it’s only natural to start up again. If you had a bow and arrow with no cash and were hungry and surrounded by deer, you would do the same. If you deny your human instincts in that situation you’ll be dead in a week.

  • hailey

    what are the penalties for poaching in louisianna

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