The temptation is great and some cannot resist, especially when they can brag about it on social media before getting caught

I’ve come to the conclusion that outdoor dummies can create some high entertainment. 

Oh, please make no mistake that poachers are nothing more than thieves of our natural resources which belong to and should be shared by everyone. That is why, while it’s easy to get steaming mad angry about the crimes they commit, it is also occasionally downright entertaining when they lose and the good guys win.

As for a good example of incredible stupidity, a southwest Virginia man recently discovered that poaching just doesn’t pay after he was recently sentenced to 7 years in prison. Nelson Drummond was convicted of poaching four elk, three deer, a black bear and a bobcat. A Henry .22-lever action rifle (that was adapted with a laser sight and was seized and forfeited to the state) was used. 

How was he caught? Social media did him in. 

It seems that videos and pictures were found by officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries which reportedly showed Drummond with a number of the poached animals. One of those videos showed this turkey shooting a deer, taking the dead animal to Conaway Bridge and laughing as he tossed the animal over the side of the bridge and onto the road below.

In addition to the jail time, Drummond was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution. And, (this doesn’t make a lot of sense), his hunting privileges were suspended for five years. 

Personally, I’d feel better if this yahoo was never permitted to possess any hunting implements for the rest of his life.

The thing about poachers is that they’re all people who have made some really bad (stupid) decisions. But some of these decisions are a lot stupider than others. 

With that in mind, here are several dumb decisions that poachers have made recently. Most of these have led directly to them being caught. And social media played a big role in every one of them getting caught.

For instance, really big buck deer often receive celebrity status while they are alive. Many hunters may snap photos or take mental notes of the same buck, some with the fervent hope of harvesting that particular deer during the legal hunting season. In other words, there’s almost always someone who is familiar with the animal while it’s alive. That was the case with this big mule deer from Big Piney, Wyoming.

The man who shot it illegally might actually have gotten away with the crime if his desire to exhibit it for others to drool over had not been so overwhelming. But he did display the mount at a wildlife expo in Salt Lake City, and another hunter who photographed the buck well after the hunting season was over spotted it. That guy alerted the proper authorities.

Talk about your basic “oops.” 

The poacher, Nathan Strong, received 10 days in jail and over $19,000 in restitution and fines for his crime against man and wildlife.

Now let us proceed from dumb to dumber. It seems that a North Carolina man, Nick Davis, alleged to have shot a buck with an arrow that utterly shattered North Carolina’s non-typical whitetail buck record by almost 30 inches. Unfortunately for this yahoo, there were many observers that stated something just did not look right with the photos, and a lot of people noticed the discrepancy.  

The head looked like it was far too small for the antlers it was sporting. 

Actually, it was. As it turns out this yahoo had actually bought a set of shed antlers from a Pennsylvania deer farm. He then poached a young buck with a rifle and attached the antlers to that deer. However, when investigators questioned him on his story he finally admitted to the hoax. 

He was subsequently slapped with substantial fines and restitution, along with the loss of all hunting privileges for two years for poaching the buck out of season.

The thing about virtually all poachers is that it simply does not matter what wildlife is killed. There are deer poachers, as well as those thieves who take small game, waterfowl and even fish. Fortunately most of these yahoos like to brag on social media as well as violate the laws concerning game limits.

A while back five men and a woman, all from Indiana, went fishing on Upper Cormorant Lake located in Becker County, Minnesota. And yes, they had a lot of “good” luck. And better yet, they took lots of photos, sending them out to all their friends and relatives over social media. 

Yes, things were looking pretty good for those yahoos.

But the state wardens got wind of their successful efforts, and paid them a visit, complete with a warrant. They found almost 700 sunfish and crappies, neatly packaged and stored in freezers. 

The judge who heard this case was definitely not amused. After all, the legal possession limit is 10 crappies and 20 sunfish in Minnesota. Oh, and they had to pay five dollars restitution for each fish they caught.

There are even a few bad apples within my old outfit, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It seems that two of its employees and two friends pleaded guilty to poaching-related charges in the killing of a trophy-class bull elk in western Colorado. 

Thad Bingham, 44, and Brian Scheer, 45, the two feds, also pleaded guilty to trespassing on private land that was closed to hunting at the time of the incident. Bingham also pleaded guilty to illegal wildlife possession after admitting that he had shot the animal with a bow and arrow.

How did these two yahoos get caught? Bingham posted a photo of himself with the elk online, and state officers could tell from the image that the area was off-limits to hunting. Investigators obtained warrants to search a federal fish hatchery where Bingham and Scheer worked as well as Bingham’s home. Officers recovered the elk’s antlers at Bingham’s home.

I guess outdoor dummies can be found just about anywhere. Oh well.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Writer. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net.