record buck
Texas Parks and Wildlife

Man to Pay $53,000 in Fines for Poaching of 278-Inch Record Buck in Texas

This buck could have been the second largest ever taken in Texas.

A Texas man has been sentenced to pay a staggering $53,000 in civil restitution fines after admitting to shooting a 278-inch record buck after hours.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Travis D. Johnson of Aubrey, Texas, will also have to perform 40 hours of community service and will spend the next two years on probation for poaching the massive buck. He pleaded no contest in Denton County Criminal court.

The case goes back to last October when the story of the big buck shot near Pilot Point first broke. With almost any big buck harvest, there are rumors about it being taken illegally. In this case, however, it seems there was some truth to it.

TPWD saw the photos circulating online and became concerned about the condition of the meat due to details about Johnson having shot the buck the night before and warm temperatures. There were also rumors circulating the buck had been shot after legal hunting hours.

This resulted in a visit to Johnson from warden Stormy McCuistion. Upon his arrival, McCuistion was informed the carcass had been disposed of because of worries about the condition of the meat.

It was during this visit the warden found out Johnson had first shot the buck on September 30, but had failed to kill the deer. It later showed up in trail camera photos with obvious entry and exit wounds visible.

Johnson then told the warden he had been more persistent in his pursuit of the buck in hopes of ending the animal's suffering and had even spent the night in his stand to avoid spooking the deer.

He told the warden he shot the buck at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7. But McCuistion was suspicious of the timeline and talked with an adjacent landowner, who noted a text conversation. The conversation happened an hour past dark, making no indication Johnson had shot the buck.

Johnson later confessed he'd not only shot the buck after legal shooting time, but that he had been on land he didn't have permission to hunt, according to the Denton-Record Chronicle.

The TPWD press release also states Johnson will not be allowed to have a hunting license during his deferred adjudication period.