As long as there are rules and regulations, someone’s going to go out there and break them—and when that someone gets caught, it can make for an entertaining story.
Especially when you’re talking about poachers.
Check out the latest installment of AmericanHunter.org’s Dumbest Poacher series below, and be sure to catch up on what you missed in the last edition! These tales may not be timeless, but they’re a lot of fun to read.
Sometimes the Clothes Do Make the Man
Troopers already had a warrant and were in the process of searching the home of Charles Douglas Cochran for proof of poaching when he pulled up in his truck sporting camouflage clothing, three hunting rifles and a cache of hunting gear.
Considering it was February, Cochran’s getup didn’t do much to help his case.
Cochran was taken into custody by the Oregon State Police and ultimately charged with taking deer out of season, exceeding the bag limit, unlawful possession of deer and a handful of other misdemeanors. His 16-year-old son will face similar charges.
Next time he may want to dress less conspicuously.
Poachers recently managed to find and slaughter a 6-year-old rhinoceros on a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. The rhino, named Max, happened to be famous among the wildlife community—not only had he been featured in a documentary, but he’d also had dealings with Prince William.
Max had been raised by the Prince’s friend Ian Craig, and had been cared for by the Prince himself for a time during the Prince’s younger days.
Unfortunately, that didn’t protect Max. Nor did the fact that he’d already had most of his horn removed—a tactic that conservationists have used to deter poachers. In February, he was found with 17 gunshot wounds and missing the little remaining horn he had.
No poaching is wise, but it seems particularly ill-advised to go after an animal with friends in high places.
You Are What You Eat
Shenae Blakemore, Cody Gilligan and Colton Lapp brought home a 185-inch 4x5 mule deer buck. Wardens found it in a shed while investigating a separate issue, and weren’t quite convinced by Lapp’s claim that it had been killed in an area of the Wyoming Black Hills north of Sundance.
The wardens extracted a sample of the deer’s stomach contents and shipped it to a lab for further analysis. The results? The deer had been eating cottonwood leaves. The issue: Cottonwoods are indigenous to the Greybull River area, which is more than 200 miles away from where Lapp claimed the deer had been taken.
That gave the wardens reason to dig deeper, and a series of text messages traded between the poaching trio sealed the deal.
Blakemore got two years probation, and all three offenders faced steep fines.
They couldn’t escape what was in the belly of this beast.
Give That Man An Asterisk*
According to the Kansas City Star, David V. Kent killed a massive 14-point buck that may have set the new Kansas state record in November 2011. The problem? He allegedly poached it. And then gave himself away in the worst way possible: by bragging about it.
Kent showed up to Kansas’ Monster Buck Classic with a beautiful new set of antlers that were, by far, the largest typical rack at the show. Wildlife agents were immediately suspicious, as most hunters would have made the tagging of a deer of that stature big news from day one.
After an investigation, Kent was charged with eight separate counts, including hunting with an artificial light, hunting during a closed season, illegal hunting from a vehicle and use of an illegal caliber for deer hunting.
Note: It’s rarely a good idea to bring your misbegotten goods to a building full of industry experts.
The Triple Crown Contender
Problem was, the birds were on a Federal Refuge. The alleged poacher didn’t seem to mind, and he showed up and started banging away.
To compound matters, he was using illegal ammunition and didn’t have a hunting license.
Give the man his trophy.
For more on this one and to see the incriminating photos, check out Kyle Wintersteen’s take in Dogs, Shotguns and Other Vices.
*To report suspected poaching in your area, check the NRA's list of poaching hotlines.