Whitetail deer hunting, much like any other activity man partakes in will always have a darker side to it. While the vast majority of us follow our state and federal regulations, those very few who do not, are often heard about most. Below you will read about an Ohio man who once walked into the same woods as we all do; only he would choose the wrong path. We don’t usually publish these stories, but this one should be read.
The buck in question was the largest typical whitetail buck taken in North America following the 2009 season. Scoring an impressive 197 2/8 inches, the buck was even in line to becoming Kentucky’s new typical state record. The buck however, was actually taken in Ohio.
Two law-abiding hunters from Adams County, Ohio had over 50 trailcamera photos of the deer. The hunter’s both new what an incredible buck they were hunting and decided to inform a local Ohio State Wildlife Official of the deer prior to the archery opener. With the 2009 season nearing, the buck would end up vanishing, one last photo being taken on September 6.
Months later at the Ohio Deer & Turkey Expo outdoor show in Columbus, Ohio, one of the hunters saw the buck at a booth. The monster buck's head and antlers were on display, with the engraved description below the mount reading, "New Kentucky State-Record Bow Kill." Immediately the hunter knew something was wrong and informed the proper authorities.
The next day at the expo, two Ohio Wildlife Officers interviewed John Clay, the hunter who took the trophy. At first he was very cooperative in telling his remarkable tale of the taking of the deer. But after the two officers took out a photo album containing over 50 photos of the deer alive, Clay knew he was in trouble. The officers immediately confiscated the mount, and left the expo to further investigate.
Hunter, John Clay, later admitted to poaching the trophy buck with a bow and arrow in Ohio, before the season began, then taking it to Kentucky and checking it in. This was not Clay's first wildlife law violation. He has had ten prior wildlife law convictions, including spending time in jail for several of those offenses.
As a result of the two officers' investigation, Clay pleaded guilty to four charges: taking a deer in the closed season, hunting without permission of the landowner, having no hunting license, and having no deer permit. He was fined $1,500 by the court, and an additional $134 in court costs, plus a loss of lifetime hunting privileges in the state of Ohio.
However, in accordance with a new law, which went into effect in March of 2008, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is seeking a restitution of more than $23,000 for the buck.
The restitution value for a whitetail deer in Ohio is determined by antler measurement, using a set formula, plus the value derived for wildlife. The formula, (gross score-125) 2 x $1.65 plus $500.
Bowhunting.Com wishes to hear your comments on the restitution fine of this illegally taken animal. Do you think this amount was fair? Do you think he got off too lightly? Please leave your comments below. Thank you.