The Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Jury Finds Guide Guilty in Bighorn Sheep Poaching Case, Now Booted from Hunting 47 States

This hunting guide merely pretended to be a Utah resident.

In just 2014 alone, according to data from the Utah DWR, 5,174 Utah hunters applied for 35 desert bighorn tags, while 7,184 nonresidents vied for only three. It's no wonder the coveted tag is so hard to procure and part of many big-game hunters' wish lists.

According to court records, Larry Altimus, a prominent hunting guide from Pearce, Arizona, had applied 21 times for the much sought after non-resident permit. However, he had amassed one bonus point for each failed try, giving him an advantage over other hunters trying to procure the same tag.

Even at that, obtaining the coveted nonresident permit was still a long shot. So, Altimus tried to up his chances by making his home in Kanab, Utah.

In 2013, Altimus then rented a house in the Utah-Arizona border town, moved in and even obtained a Utah driver license. Using the Utah address, Altimus applied for the permit again the following March, not long after meeting the six-month residency requirement. He then drew a tag to take a bighorn from the famous Zion hunting unit, just one of only 11 given out that year.

Kane County prosecutor Jeff Stott said Utah law makes it clear that hunters may not procure a resident hunting tag if they move there for a "special or temporary purpose."

Just a few short weeks after getting the permit, Altimus moved back to Arizona, only to return to Utah, to hunt the fall season in Zion.

"We proved it was all for this permit," Stott said.

A jury in Kanab handed down a verdict that included a felony for wanton destruction of wildlife, $30,000 in restitution, and the right to hunt or even possess a firearm in the state of Utah during a three-year probation period.

"He not only stole the permit," DWR spokesman Mark Hadley said. "He used the permit he wasn't entitled to to kill an animal."

The Utah DWR then lowered the boom even further when they invoked the petition to revoke Altimus' hunting rights for 10 years in every state taking a part in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, effectively banning him from hunting in 47 states. The order could be appealed.

Since patience is one of the top 10 traits of successful hunters, it goes without saying that this is a lesson to be learned for all those we call members of the hunting community. We need to appreciate the opportunities we do have. We may not get to hunt every game animal in our lifetime, but there are no shortcuts. If you cross the line, you'll only end up worse off.