Have you ever fathomed a deer hunting outfit being compared to organized crime? Well, this story certainly fits that bill—at least in the outdoor world.
Two Texas brothers, James Bobby Butler and Marlin Jackson Butler, are facing a litany of charges stemming from their involvement in illegal deer hunting in Kansas between 2005 and 2008.
On May 25, a federal grand jury in Wichita, Kan., served up a 23-count felony indictment stating that the pair's Kansas-based hunting camp—Camp Lone Star—promoted, aided and encouraged illegal hunting, game violations and even violated the Lacey Act by arranging for the transport of deer that had been poached from Kansas to Texas. The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport and sell, in interstate commerce, any wildlife taken or possessed in violation of state law or regulation.
Maximum penalty for a felony violation of the Lacey Act includes up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Fine could total in the millions depending on the outcome of the case.
Matt Williams of the Lufkin Daily News tells the rest of the story:
The CLS hunting camp is located within Deer Management Unit 16, one of the state’s most promising hunting units for bucks with kingsize racks. The indictment states that archery hunters were charged approximately $3,500 per hunt; firearm hunters, $5,000.
The Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department divides the state into 18 management units for the purpose of deer hunting. Hunters are allowed one buck per season, by permit only.
According to the document, the Butlers conducted their business at CLS and several other properties including the Box Ranch, Huck Ranch and Oasis 7 Ranch that were under lease by James Butler.
The land totaled about 50,000 acres.
The indictment states that clients guided by the Butlers and other CLS guides were directed, permitted and encouraged to engage in a variety of illegal hunting practices including hunting without a valid license or permit, hunting with invalid permits, hunting with illegal equipment, taking deer exceeding the bag limit, night hunting or “spotlighting” and improper tagging of deer.
The document also says that the Butler brothers “instructed guided hunters to apply for and obtain, and assisted them in applying for and obtaining, deer permits for units other than Unit 16, for unlawful use in Unit 16.” Furthermore, the indictment states that “James Butler purchased landowner transferable permits for units other than Unit 16 and counties other than Comanche County, and sold the permits to guided hunters for unlawful use within Unit 16 in Comanche County.”
Additionally, the indictment charges that the Butler brothers arranged for transport of deer that had been killed illegally, or parts of the deer, particularly the antlers, from Kansas to Texas. That act is a violation of the Lacey Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport and sell, in interstate commerce, any wildlife taken or possessed in violation of state law or regulation.
The indictment charges James Butler with 18 violations of the Lacey Act and Marlin Butler with 12 violations of the Lacey Act. Both men also are charged with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.
Additionally, the indictment charges James Butler with three counts of obstruction of justice for:
1.) Hampering U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigations “by instructing an employee to remove mounts (six whitetail deer heads) from the premises of High Roller Whitetails and to destroy and conceal the mounts.”
2.) “Instructing an employee of High Roller Whitetails to tell investigators that James Butler did not guide hunters at Camp Lone Star.”
3.) “Falsely stating to Special Agent of the USFWS that he was never paid for guiding or other services by hunters at CLS, and that he had no knowledge of any illegal activity at CLS and would not tolerate any violation of hunting laws.”