These poacher stories are almost too dumb to be believable.
Law-abiding outdoorsmen and women everywhere loathe poachers. These thieves steal our natural resources with absolutely no regard for others. These stories can be quite maddening.
Poaching is a stupid choice to make in life. But sometimes, the stories of these poachers are so unbelievable due the sheer stupidity of these wildlife criminals. We admit, we smile a bit every time we see one of these stories of criminals getting just what they deserved.
Today we're highlighting eight more poachers who made mind-numbingly stupid decisions that tarnished their reputations almost as much as the justice system punished them for their crimes.
1. Poaching in full view of a game warden
What's dumber than committing a crime? How about committing a crime in full view of a law enforcement official? This one happened in Scurry County, Texas last year. A Texas Game Warden was mentoring a young hunter by supervising him on a hunt in a box blind.
As the warden and hunter watched a spike buck approximately 300 yards out, a truck on a nearby road came to a stop and a poacher got out and shot the buck! To their disbelief, the poacher and his buddy then ran out into the field and began dragging the deer back to their vehicle!
Needless to say, the bad guys didn't get very far and were apprehended after a short chase. Let's hope their stay in Scurry County jail and the embarrassment of this incident were enough to make them rethink their poor life choices.
2. Running a fake guide service as a front for rhino horn smuggling
Chumlong Lemtongthai probably thought he was being sneaky when he came up with a scheme to smuggle illegal African rhino horn to Asian black markets. The way he did this it by using Vietnamese and Thai women, many of them prostitutes, to apply for hunting licenses and pose as legitimate foreign big game hunters.
He paid the women around $800 each to accompany him on these illegal hunting trips to South Africa. Never mind the fact that neither Thailand or Vietnam have very many big game hunters to begin with. It was something wildlife officers definitely thought was suspicious when the applications started pouring in.
Of course, it was Lemtongthai and his men who were the ones shooting the rhinos. They were even dumb enough to video record the crime in some instances.
To try to add legitimacy to the kills, they staged photos of the women with their "trophies." The photos are a dead giveaway the whole thing is a scam. The women are pictured with rifles while wearing obvious street clothing. They certainly weren't dressed for a South Africa safari!
Sadly, the whole scam didn't come crashing down until one of Lemtongthai's men finally grew a conscience and reported him. It confirmed what authorities already suspected. By then, over 50 rhinos had been poached, marking a big blow to wildlife conservation.
Lemtongthai was one of the rare poachers to get a prison sentence for his crimes. He was originally sentenced to 40 years in the clink. Unfortunately, he was successful on two appeals and was released in September 2018 after only six years.
At least that's six years of his life he won't get back, and South Africa wildlife officials are now wise to this type of scam and have taken steps to prevent it.
3. Poaching a buck out a bedroom window
Deer poachers sometimes never learn their lessons the first time. In 2011, James R. Mikac was charged with poaching a deer in western New York. Just seven years later, he again found conservation officers knocking on his door.
The officers were there to question Mikac about an 8-point buck that ended up dead in the Lackawanna neighborhood, a suburb of Buffalo. When they got there, they found 50 pounds of corn scattered in the backyard. It didn't take long for the whole story to come out.
Officials determined Mikac had shot the deer out of his bedroom window with a crossbow. We're not sure why he didn't think his neighbors would notice such an obvious crime in a neighborhood.
Not only is it illegal to hunt out of a residence, but this area is closed to hunting year-round. And deer season had ended weeks prior. He faced fines of up to $4,500 in the case.
We can only hope that this poacher's second brush with the law is a wake-up call to quit his wildlife crimes.
4. Pushing an arrow through a rifle-killed deer
#ItsArcherySeason!#PoachingDoesntPayOn Tuesday, December 5, Game Warden David Clay (Nowata County) was doing a random...
Game Wardens see hundreds of harvested deer every year. If you lie about what weapon you used to harvest a deer, they're probably going to know. That was exactly what happened in Nowata County, Oklahoma in December of 2017.
Warden David Clay was at the local deer processor checking out the latest harvests. One particular big buck immediately caught his eye. The deer was registered as an archery kill, but he wasn't buying it.
Sure enough, Clay's investigation revealed the deer had died from a shot from a .22 rifle a day after the rifle season had ended. When confronted with the evidence, the poacher admitted to his crimes. He also revealed what Clay had already suspected, that the poacher had pushed a broadhead through the deer's body in an attempt to cover it up.
That kind of tactic isn't likely to fool any butcher or Warden. The buck was confiscated and the poacher was issued citations for his crime.
5. Using a speargun on bass
#SpearedFishOn July 15, 2018 at 1030 in the morning while working Skiatook Lake Game Warden Paul Welch (Osage County)...
In July of 2018, Oklahoma Game Warden Paul Welch thought he was dealing with a simple case of a poacher with undersized fish after he caught two men with a stringer of small bass on Skiatook Lake. The biggest fish on the stringer was only eight inches long. What is it with poachers and taking undersized game?
But the Warden got a huge surprise when he learned of the poachers' choice of equipment. They were using a speargun to kill the bass! Welch cited the poacher for illegal use of the speargun and for undersized bass.
I guess subtlety wasn't their thing. Seriously, they didn't think anyone would think they looked out of place with a speargun in Oklahoma?
6. Broadcasting on national television
There have been plenty of instances of poachers being nabbed after bragging on social media. But in 2014, Kentucky residents Ricky Mills and Jimmy Duncan were busted by Wyoming Game and Fish after their poaching of two bull elk aired on national television. Yes, really.
The two poachers had a hunting show called "Hunting in the Sticks" that used to air on the Pursuit Channel. After a show aired showing the men shooting two elk, locals noticed something off about the hunt. Namely, the terrain featured in the hunt didn't match the area they claimed to be hunting.
They were right; wildlife officials investigated and discovered the men did have elk hunting permits, but they were for Hunt Area 51 near Yellowstone National Park. The men actually shot the animals in Hunt Area 113 near Douglas, over six hours away, and on the other side of the state!
In case you think this was just an honest mistake, investigators discovered the men had trespassed on private property to get the footage. They also found this wasn't the first time they had tried this. A deeper look into their past also revealed Duncan had poached a pronghorn antelope the year before without a license.
Both men lost their hunting privileges for 15 years and each had to pay nearly $7,500 in fines and another $6,000 in restitution each for the animals. The episode where they poached the bulls was quickly pulled from both TV and YouTube. Pursuit Channel later decided not to renew "Hunting in the Sticks" when its contract expired--probably a wise choice.
7. Shooting the Game Warden
Make no mistake, Game Wardens have a dangerous job. That was proven in November 2016 when New York Department of Environmental Conservation Officers James Davey and Liza Bobseine went to investigate a report of deer poaching after dark in Columbia County.
They found their man quickly. The poacher, Alan Blanchard stupidly shot Davey in the pelvis with his 30-30 Win. rifle. The warden survived. At least we know Blanchard knew he screwed up, because he stayed on the scene to assist until first responders arrived.
After Davey was taken to the hospital, Blanchard was promptly arrested. He later admitted he and his friend were knowingly out trying to kill a deer after legal shooting light.
Blanchard's actions were quite serious and carried the possibility of seven years in prison. But when he pleaded guilty, the judge instead gave him six months in jail with credit for time served. Where the judge really hit the poacher was the wallet.
Blanchard was ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution. He also received probation and 100 hours of community service. Let's hope he's learned his lesson about why there are legal shooting hours from this incident.
Officer Davey had to undergo surgery, blood transfusions, and extensive rehabilitation for the gunshot wound, but we're happy to report he was able to return back to work busting the bad guys almost a year after the shooting.
8. Looking for love
In what may be our absolute favorite stupid poacher story ever, an Oklahoma warden didn't have to go out seeking a poacher. She found him via a dating app! Warden Cannon Harrison got a notification on a dating app called "Bumble" informing him of a match in his area. This app requires the woman to reach out first, which means the poacher sought out the warden!
Their conversation quickly took an odd turn when the poacher bragged to Harrison about having just "killed a bigo buck." When he asked if she shot the deer with a bow, she suspiciously responded with: "Well, we don't need to talk about that." Harrison responded by asking: "spotlight?" The poacher responded with "Yeahhhh."
Amazingly, Harrison got the woman to reveal where she'd shot the buck and wardens were sent to her house the next day. "I've spoken with several wardens across the nation and this seems to be the first of its kind," Harrison later told Tulsa World News after the story went wildly viral.
The unnamed woman pleaded guilty to her crime right away and last we heard, was facing fines of up to $2,400 for her dumb decision. We don't think a second date ever happened.