Missouri Man Jailed On Charges of Poaching

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Missouri man jailed on charges of poaching.

A Macks Creek Missouri man is charged in the killing of two pen-raised deer.

By Mike Penprase, Springfield News-Leader

A Macks Creek man is in jail charged with poaching related to an Oct. 30 killing of pen-raised deer in northwest Missouri. But animal parts discovered in his home have sparked an ongoing investigation.

Found by Missouri Department of Conservation agents Oct. 31 in Lester Melton’s home were about a hundred turkey beards — strands that hang from a bird’s neck that are prized by some hunters — deer heads with large antlers and the claws of birds of prey protected by federal law, according to state conservation agents.

Those parts of protected birds have federal officials involved in the investigation of Melton. Other conservation agents searched Melton’s friend’s house near Kansas City. Melton’s parents’ house was also searched.

The ongoing investigation comes after Melton was caught near a domesticated deer farm in northwest Missouri. Two deer were shot and their heads severed during the dark of the Oct. 30 night. Melton was later found hiding in the brush.

Melton told investigators he collected deer racks and turkey beards because he enjoyed having them, but also said he sold some, Conservation agent Jade Wright said.

Wright said authorities also found mounted deer heads that had been stolen from the Jamesport Antique Store and the Burr Oak Conservation area in Jackson County.

“He liked big racks and bragging rights on turkey beards,” said Wright.

Melton remains in custody in the Grundy County Jail in Trenton. He is scheduled to appear in Grundy County Court on Nov. 27 for two felony counts of appropriating domestic white-tailed deer, in connection with two deer he allegedly killed there. He also faces charges in Daviess and Jackson counties.

The Conservation Department is trying to determine how the parts of deer, turkey and birds of prey found in Melton’s home near Macks Creek fit into the poaching case, northwest region supervisor Tim Ripperger said.

Conservation agents had no contact with Melton since he moved from the Kansas City area to Macks Creek about a year ago, conservation district supervisor Darrell Walton said.

“We’re not aware he was hunting down here,” Walton said. “Most of his activities seem to have been in the Kansas City and northwest Missouri areas.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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