Photo Credit: Chris Auch

Like mama always used to say, “tell the truth or someone else will tell it for you.” At least that was the case in a 2017 Montana mountain lion hunt that left four men banned from hunting.

Darren Johnson was running his dogs and hunting with David Johnson. They harvested a lion, but David’s tag was not valid until the next day. The pair decided to tag it with Darren’s tag. They registered the lion in Darren’s name and David took the lion home using Darren’s truck.

Unfortunately, this isn’t Darren’s first incident with this sort of situation. In 2013 during a Colorado mountain lion hunt, Darren shot a mountain lion and had another man tag it. “He’s had a pattern of illegally hunting mountain lions and a pattern of lying about hunting violations,” said U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.

The federal investigation began in April of 2018 after Darren lied to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service about killing the animal. There were two other men present for the hunt, Steven Reindahl, and Robert Peters. They were subpoenaed to testify about what had happened. The four men got together and decided if they just “stuck to the story” they would all get away with it.

Reindahl and Peters gave their testimony according to plan but, unbeknownst to them, Graber already knew the truth. Dan Johnson, who owned the hunting cabin they had stayed at, testified to what actually happened. The four did not find out until later that they had been caught committing perjury. They later changed their story and told a grand jury that David shot the mountain lion.

In the end, Darren Johnson was given a four year, worldwide hunting ban, and a $30,000 fine. He was also required to forfeit his hunting rifle, GPS dog collars, pickup truck, the mountain lion skull, and the rights to the mount from his 2013 Colorado hunt. It is a life-sized mount of a bobcat fighting a mountain lion.

David Johnson was banned from hunting for three years and fined $25,000. He was also required to relinquish the cape from the illegally harvested mountain lion.

Robert Peters got into additional trouble for shooting a bobcat out of his truck window. Peters and Steven Reindahl both lost hunting privileges for two years and were given a $5000 fine.

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