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Need to Know: Fake Indiana Hunting Lease Operation Thwarted

Flickr/Indiana DNR

How do you know if what you are getting is actually a fake hunting lease? 

This story is all too familiar. Hunters need a place to hunt and land is getting harder and harder to come by all over the United States. Private land is hard to find, getting permission is almost impossible, and land lease operations fill in every gap in the woods. Unfortunately, where a profit can be made, criminals are normally near.

As land lease operations continue to strangle average hunters in just about every state, one specific opportunistic criminal took advantage of the situation. Samuel Hughes, owner of Nature’s Ridge Whitetails Outfitters of French Lick, Indiana started drafting lease paperwork for properties all over southern Indiana.

Out-of-state of hunters each paid Hughes thousands of dollars for exclusive rights to different properties, as is custom with hunting leases. However, Hughes did not have permission from any of the landowners. As per the allegations, Hughes was taking the money and guiding hunters to woods where he didn’t think anyone would notice, all without permission.

Luckily, somebody did notice. While responding to a trespass charge, conservation officers encountered one of Hughes’s clients. After a brief conversation with the hunter, the officers were able to get a search warrant for Hughes’s phone. Then, according to a press release from the Indiana DNR, Hughes confessed to his crimes in an interview and was charged with Felony Theft.

As of today, this investigation is still ongoing and Hughes has not yet been proven guilty in court.

Please share this story. If you or someone you know has a hunting lease with Nature’s Ridge Whitetail Outfitters, they were probably scammed by Hughes as well. If this is the case, or if you have any information pertinent to this investigation, please call Indiana Conservation Officers’ Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536.


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Need to Know: Fake Indiana Hunting Lease Operation Thwarted