deer poacher
California Fish and Wildlife Department

California Hunter Fined $20K for Baiting, Shooting Deer Out of Season

When will people learn it just isn't worth it?

A man from Northern California received a $20,000 fine this week after pleading no contest to misdemeanor charges for illegally baiting and killing a trophy deer back in 2018.

William Valden, 70, was hunting on his own property after the season had ended when he took a shot at a trophy-class buck.

According to a report from The Los Angeles Times, California Fish and Wildlife Game Warden Dave Moskat was monitoring the Elverta resident's property after noticing a camouflaged feeder dispensing food the year prior.

While baiting is a legal practice in a number of other states, California prohibits any methods that step outside the "fair chase" guidelines.

Valden had reportedly purchased his required "deer tags" and everything, even following protocol by reporting when and where he harvested his deer.

However, Moskat recognized the signature and the address of the report, which prompted him to question Valden about baiting.

When confronted, Valden eventually admitted to shooting the deer after the hunting season's end, and forging the required signatures of a California Department of Fish and Wildlife official who'd signed off some of his previous legal kills.

"For a lot of those people that commit poaching crimes, it's kind of a way of life for them," said Lt. Stacey LaFave.

According to the report, Valden will wear an ankle bracelet or serve time through a work project for violating CDFW trophy animal regulations.

While some states can be a thorn in your side with stricter regulations, it's never worth it to roll the dice. Make sure you're up to date on your local regulations and always follow them no matter what.