Redding, California pair fined $26,000 for Kansas poaching

spectr17

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California men hit with poaching fines
 
By Michael Pearce, The Wichita Eagle

12/24/01

Christmas won't be very merry for two California friends.

After all, they just found out they owe the state of Kansas around $26,000 in fines for a western Kansas poaching spree last year.

Adam Bishop and Randall Hodges, both of Redding, can thank the persistence of Kansas residents and a trio of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks conservation officers for their apprehension.

They can also blame their own vanity for helping with their convictions.

Wildlife and Parks district law enforcement supervisor Mel Madorin said his office first started getting complaints about the California duo in early September 2000.

"Some of our officers started taking complaints that these two guys were here visiting and doing quite a bit of hunting," Madorin said.

"Some said they'd been in the house where they were staying and had seen some racks."

Over the next several weeks, Madorin and fellow conservation officers Richard Kelly and Benny Young patrolled the portion of Trego County where Bishop and Hodges had repeatedly been seen cruising in their pick-up truck.

Though the officers didn't find the Californians, complaints from Kansas residents continued to come in on a regular basis.

Finally, on November 6, 2000, the three wildlife officers paid a visit to the farm house north of WaKeeney where Bishop and Hodges were staying.

They discovered that the men only had whitetail antlerless tags in their possession -- yet there were six sets of deer antlers in the house. Madorin said the racks were from five mule deer and a whitetail. Three of the set were "certainly Pope & Young class."

At first the suspects tried to convince the officers they'd found many of the racks, and insisted they were in-state bowhunting.

But as the on-site interrogation continued, their stories started to unravel. Every possible alibi snapped when one of the officers checked their truck.

"We found a video tape in their camera that showed at least five of the big deer being shot right on camera," Madorin said.

"It was pretty easy to match the deer on the tape with the racks that we found. It was pretty incriminating, especially since the dates and times were right there on the video."

One of the bucks had been poached with a bow, and the others with a rifle.

The Kansas officers also found a selection of photographs of the hunters with the bucks they'd poached, often with a bow rather than a rifle.

"We found where they'd written across the pictures about what they'd taken, like they were sending them to people back in California, bragging," Madorin said.

Madorin said the tape also showed them shooting a trophy-class buck that wasn't accounted for at the house. It, too, was eventually found.

"We could tell by the tape that it had must been shot the day before and we figured they hadn't gotten the antlers yet," Madorin said.

"But the area that it was in was pretty recognizable, so we started asking around and some (residents) directed us right to it."

Officers found the buck right where the poachers had left it.

Hodges, who had several game law violations in California, and Bishop were presented with a myriad of charges in Trego and Graham counties, including failure to tag deer, wanton waste, hunting with the aid of a vehicle, taking mule deer without a mule deer permit, illegal use of a rifle during archery season, poaching a trophy-class animal, trespassing and commercialization of wildlife.

The poachers plea-bargained back and forth with county authorities and late last month were fined $3,000 each in Trego County and $10,000 each in Graham County.

Both men also had to pay court costs, and much more.

"In addition to the money, we confiscated their rifles and bowhunting equipment, which we figure was worth about $2,300," Madorin said.

"They also had to make the trip back and forth to Kansas for court several times."

The poachers were also banned from hunting or guiding in the state of Kansas for life.

As significant as the bust was, it's possible it's only part of the damage done in the area in 2000.

Madorin said three or four days after the bust was made, other people from California were seen at the same rented farm house.

No violations were found among the new guests, and complaints from area residents dropped substantially after Hodges and Bishop were arrested.
 



bmulley

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I like to hear the success stories of catching and punishing poachers...If only it were a deterent for other poachers.
 


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