JEFFERSON, Iowa (AGFC) - What began from a chance encounter on a trespassing complaint two years ago has led to 18 people, from six states, pleading guilty to various poaching violations. Wildlife officers from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission helped uncover the poaching violations.
The investigation ended with guilty pleas for illegal taking or possession of whitetail deer, no valid deer tag, illegal use of a deer tag, illegal transportation of a deer and providing false information to a peace officer.
AGFC Chief of Enforcement Mike Knoedl said that Arkansas wildlife officers are constantly working with other states to uncover hunting and fishing violations. "We work closely with other states. We have a great working relationship with them since we have the same goals - to make sure people follow the rules and violators don't take advantage of the resource," Knoedl said.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources filed 48 state charges that included fines of $7,845 and $85,000 in liquidated damages for 12 illegally taken deer over a four year period in Greene County, Iowa.
Those charged include Daryl Thompson, 52, of Grand Junction, Iowa, Eric Poindexter, 32, Eufaula, Okla., David Miller, 42, of McAlester, Okla., Richard Densmore, 57, Wetumka, Okla., Marvin Autrey, 41, Wagoner, Okla., Anthony Bernhardt, 47, McAlester, Okla., Garrett Patterson, 27, McAlester, Okla., John Keys, 28, Stillwater, Okla., Andrew Oquist, 33, Knoxville, Ark., Randal Hurst, 43, Altus, Ark., Ricky Hurst, 48, Altus, Ark., Erick Hurst, 22, Altus, Ark., Steven Stubblefield, 43, Springfield, Tenn., Bryan Entrikin, 33, Ashland City, Tenn., Timmy Sanford, 29, Springfield, Tenn., Scott Keys, 38, Bossier City, La., Kenneth Gabriel, 59, Butler, Mo., and Tamara Kiner, 46, Grand Junction, Iowa.
The individuals forfeited 19 bows and accessories, 9 tree stands with ladders, 6 mounted deer heads, 5 skull capped deer racks, 1 ground blind, 1 rifle and 1 shotgun. The individuals are in the process of paying their fines and restitution.
The case arose during an unrelated poaching investigation in 2008 when Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Dan Pauley recalled a trespassing report where he had spoke with Daryl Thompson, of Grand Junction. Pauley received additional information from local residents about deer poaching and guiding activity in Greene County over the past few years that lead him back to Thompson.
In 2009, a nonresident who had pleaded guilty to poaching deer, provided information on other poaching activity that lead Pauley to other nonresidents who had similar experiences in Greene County.
The web started to build and would eventually include poachers in Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana and Tennessee.
"We interviewed a lot of people on the case and each interview would lead us to more individuals who were involved which would lead to more charges. Most of these interviews were done either over the phone with the suspects or by a game warden from the suspect's home state. There were days when I would be on the phone for 10 or 12 hours," said Pauley. "There are likely more deer out there than we know about, but we got them on what we could."
Thompson likely met some of the individuals through business contacts he made while working out of state, and would line up the land and set up deer stands. Until 2007, many individuals would buy doe tags for use as a reason for them to be deer hunting in the woods while they waited for a trophy buck. The poached deer would not be tagged or reported. The Iowa DNR stopped selling nonresident archery doe tags in 2008.
Pauley said there is no evidence that Thompson profited financially from the arrangement.
Pauley, along with fellow officer Haupert, the Greene County Attorney's Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lead the six month investigation. Officers from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Iowa assisted in the case.
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It seems like poaching turnabout is fair play.