Dumb Poachers: Feb. 2013 Edition

The winter 2012-2013 seasons are gradually winding down throughout the country. Quite a few hunters are preparing to close up shop for a few months. A fair few are gearing up for the upcoming spring turkey season. And others yet (at least a few, anyway) are preparing for their next court appearance. Another winter season has come and nearly gone and, without fail, another crop of rather foolish poachers rose and fell. Below you'll find some of this winter's highlights.

Get a look at the fall 2012 edition of Dumb Poacher Stories right here.

A Ringleader Goes Down
It's not often that poachers stateside are able to use their dastardly actions to make a living, but that's what Scott J. Walsh had allegedly been doing in Ohio—until now, according to the Toledo Blade.

Following a two-year investigation, officials with the Ohio Division of Wildlife found that the 55-year-old Walsh had been charging "clients" to hunt on land that he didn't own or have permission to use, in what appears to have been a guide service that was built entirely around poaching.

Walsh allegedly attracted legitimate hunters to his operation with claims that he owned or had permission to use some 1,600 acres of prime whitetail habitat. He used pictures of trophy deer that he'd already poached from the area to promote his service. In reality he didn't own any of the land, and had been given permission to use just 15 acres of it.

According to the report, investigators had found that Walsh had received payments ranging from $250 to $1,200 from hunters in Vermont, Texas, Michigan, New Hampshire and Ohio. Authorities determined that all involved parties had been unknowingly duped, and focused all charges on Walsh instead.

After his arrest, Walsh ultimately came to a plea agreement that convicted him of at least four felonies. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, will lose his hunting rights for five years and will pay $5,000 in restitution. His son was convicted of a pair of felonies for his role in the scheme, and will face 30 days in jail and a similar loss of hunting rights.

The moral of the story, folks? Always vet your outfitters.

Secret Agent Man
A Colorado man will face jail time for poaching and other assorted charges, according to a report from the Denver Post. What makes the story particularly interesting? He inadvertently gave himself up to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Undercover agent.

Investigator Robert Pope was tasked with investigating alleged poacher Paul Detwiler, and broke the ice by showing up at Detwiler's house under the guise of asking around after a lost cell phone. Naturally Detwiler didn't have the non-existent phone, but he was happy to talk hunting.

Pope hit it off with his target, and before long the two had gone on a number of hunting trips. According to the report, Detwiler eventually admitted to Pope that he'd shot a black bear out of season, off the porch of house. Detwiler also admitted to taking whitetail out of season, and Pope reported that he used lead and steel shotgun shells while hunting geese—a violation of state law.

The kicker? Detwiler also happens to be a convicted felon—making it illegal for him to possess the very firearms that he'd used to kill the bear, whitetail and other game he'd taken.

Maybe next time he'll try not to make it so easy for the authorities to book him.

I'm Not Even Sure Where to Begin...
The New Jersey Star-Ledger ran a news brief earlier this month that's still very much under investigation, but can't be left off this list.

According to the report, a South Jersey man has been charged by Pennsylvania authorities with allegedly forcing a female companion to help him poach deer—at time using her as an impromptu gun rest as he steadied his weapon.

The charges date back to events that are alleged to have happened on Oct. 23, 2010 as the man and his companion were coming home from a friend's house. The way the story goes, he drew a rifle from the back seat and insisted they go hunting. At 11 p.m., mind you.

The suspect in question then allegedly forced his companion to drive around spotlighting deer while he fired upon them from the vehicle. Three whitetails were ultimately recovered, and the report claims that the meat was harvested and then sold to local New Jersey restaurants.

It wasn't until April 19, 2011 that the female companion contacted the authorities, and no comment has been given on why it's taken until now to bring the suspect up on charges. It is known, however, that he's been in prison since June 5, 2012 on unrelated weapons charges, though.

How much of this story is legitimate is hard to say, especially since the charges are so fresh. That said, if they stick, we might have a new all-time undisputed champ.

Redefining "Caught Red Handed"
A not-quite-dynamic duo in California took the idea of being "caught red handed" to new heights last November. According to a report from the Tahoe Daily Tribune, two Sacramento men were pulled over and arrested on Nov. 18 after concerned citizens called police to let them know that a tan SUV was speeding down the highway while blood dripped out of the car's doors.

According to the report, the men allegedly poached a buck in a bit of road hunting, and placed the whitetail into the back of their SUV after it collapsed. There was one problem: the deer wasn't dead. The shotgun they'd used hadn't finished the whitetail off, and the buck tried to climb to its feet while the SUV was traveling down the highway. One of the alleged poachers was forced to climb into the back seat of the car to put the animal down.

The resulting mess began leaking out doors and any other opening it could find, and passers by were quick to call in the suspicious site. A K9 officer ultimately pulled the pair over, and was hit with a whopper of a story.

While the treatment the whitetail received was as unfortunate as it was disgraceful, it's comforting to know that it's last gasp helped bring two more poachers to justice.

*To report suspected poaching in your area, check the NRA's list of poaching hotlines.

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