Lemhi County, Idaho – On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, JT Johnson of Lemhi, Idaho pled guilty to taking a trophy mule deer with a rifle during an archery-only season in Lemhi County. The case serves as a reminder that poaching, or taking wildlife illegally, is a serious crime with severe consequences.
Johnson not only paid more than $2,100 in penalties and court costs, but he also lost his hunting license for five years and had to forfeit the animal. Additionally, he was placed on a two-year probationary period.
Mule Deer Poaching
The incident was first brought to the attention of the (IDFG) by a concerned archery hunter. This hunter heard a rifle shot during the 2022 archery season and later found the remains of a large-bodied deer. The hunter suspected it was the large buck he had been pursuing for the past three years. He also thought it was most likely shot with a rifle.
IDFG Conservation Officers Chad Wippermann and Will Fuller conducted an investigation and found that Johnson had indeed shot the deer with a rifle, rather than with archery equipment. The deer antlers scored roughly 180 inches, exceeding the 150 inches required for Idaho’s enhanced civil penalty of $2,000 using the Boone and Crockett scoring system. This means the $2,000 dollars could be added to the list of his fines.
“This deer was a true treasure. Some hunters will go a lifetime looking for a deer this size. Having other hunters help us detect these types of crimes is essential, and we encourage anyone with knowledge of poaching to call us so other treasures like this deer aren’t stolen.” – Officer Fuller.
The incident serves as a reminder that hunting regulations exist for a reason, and they should be followed. Poaching not only harms wildlife populations but also deprives law-abiding hunters of opportunities to hunt and enjoy the outdoors.
Residents of Lemhi County should remember to report any suspicious activities related to wildlife to IDFG to ensure that their natural resources are protected for generations to come.
So, what are your thoughts regarding this poaching incident? Does the crime fit the punishment? Let us know in the comments!