A while back, we ran a list of eight of the dumbest poaching stories we’ve ever come across here at Wide Open Spaces.
While those incidents were incredibly dumb, for some reason, this stuff happens again and again. Here are nine more incredibly dumb things poachers tried to get away with that’ll leave you shaking your head in disbelief.
Criminal masterminds, these poachers are not!
If you’re going to commit a crime, do yourself a favor and don’t brag about it. Yet, that’s just what 70-year-old John Zayac did. He was the head of a ring that not only shot massive bucks, but also illegally sold the meat. It brought in so much money that Zayac had no other source of income.
But it all came crashing down when Zayac just couldn’t resist bragging about his crimes to a stranger in a bar. That stranger ended up being an undercover agent and the conversation they had led to two-year investigation. Zayac and his seven accomplices ended up getting hit with charges that may lead to more than $225,000 in fines and possibly prison time.
Michigan DNR officers in Battle Creek got a call about a man who was poaching largemouth bass out of season and selling them. By the time the DNR arrived at the scene of the crime, the culprit was gone. He might have gotten away with it if he didn’t choose the most conspicuous getaway vehicle ever!
Of course, it didn’t take long for a state police officer to spot him and direct the DNR to the man’s location. Sometimes the bad guys make things easy on law enforcement!
Some things are too crazy to make up. In 2015, Oklahoma game wardens caught three men red-handed as they were poaching and illegally shooting doves without a license. But that’s not what caused this story to make national headlines. It was instead the fact the men were in possession of marijuana and were actually hunting out of a blind made of it!
“I’ve never seen a case where they start early, have 50 extra dove, bait a field, hunt out of a marijuana blind,” Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement Bill Hale said. “That actually sounds more like something you’d see in a story or a movie than it does real life.”
This story gives a whole new meaning to the word “dope.”
This one seems to happen at least once a year in Michigan. In some cases, it really is an honest mistake. But in others, like this one in 2016, prove you shouldn’t be in the woods if you don’t know what you’re doing. In this case, a poacher actually shot an elk thinking it was a whitetail!
Even more amazing, he made things easy for the officers when he took the 6×6 bull to a DNR deer check station.
Elk tags in Michigan are coveted thing. You can only get one by lottery and you’re limited to only one bull in a lifetime. It ended up costing this guy almost $11,000 in fines!
Most poachers just don’t think things through before they do it. That’s painfully obvious in a poaching case out of Louisiana last February when Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Lt. Kenneth Balkom caught five poachers spotlighting a hayfield. They also had several firearms, marijuana and some dead rabbits on them.
The kicker? Balkom OWNED the hayfield. He caught game thieves on his own property! Sometimes poachers make things a little too easy.
The old saying cheaters never prosper holds true. Especially for two guys who bought an 11.5 pound bass from Dustin Miller and Sarah Demott in an attempt to win a big bass pot in Georgia. The plan was for all of them to split the pot in the tournament.
Cheating aside, there were just a few other problems with the plan. Not only is it illegal to buy or sell game fish, but it became poaching because Miller didn’t even have a fishing license. It’s poachers like this that ruin it for everyone because the lunker bass died in the process.
This one happened in November 2015 during a Game and Fish checkpoint in South Dakota. Two men approaching the checkpoint quickly realized they were in trouble and threw all their poached, over-the-limit pheasants out the window while going down the highway.
But Game and Fish had someone down the road watching for stuff like this. “By the time they got to the rest stop, we were able to bring them their lost pheasants,” said Andy Alban, Game, Fish, and Parks administrator.
Had those guys never watched the show COPS before? I don’t think anyone has ever gotten away with ditching evidence out a window. Ever.
Probably the dumbest place to try and get a big buck is a deer farm. We’re talking about a place where the owner has an inventory of every animal on the land. Yet, that’s just what two men in Florida did not once, but twice last November. The two men also stupidly bragged on social media about their crimes, which led to officials solving the case.
Even if they hadn’t been caught, who could these men have shown their stolen trophies off to without incriminating themselves? Dumb.
It’s amazing how well robotic deer have worked for law enforcement agencies across the country in nabbing people who poach deer from roadways and at night. Rather than single out just one case, enjoy this compilation video of these criminals getting caught in the act, courtesy of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
There you have it, more cases of incredibly idiotic and selfish criminal behavior by people who dare to try and lump themselves in with law-abiding outdoorsmen and women. Make no mistake, when people do this, they’re stealing natural resources from everyone, not just hunters and fisherman.
Luckily for us, their dumb actions make it easy to catch most of these criminals!