A man from Zanesville, Ohio just paid one of the largest wildlife restitution fines ever paid in the state. The original story, which I found in Outdoor News, states that the discovery of the buck in question all began with a complaint over a mallard duck. However, the story did not go into detail over the duck complaint, so I am not sure how it all came about. But, regardless of the details, this is an interesting story and a case of one expensive duck!
While 65 year old William Garner was not accused of poaching the 201 inch giant Ohio whitetail found on his property, he was charged with illegally tagging a deer taken by another hunter, and also with hunter harassment. Again, according to the article, this somehow all started with a complaint made about a mallard duck; a call came in from Garner’s neighbor about a gunshot heard on the evening of October 20. The neighbor informed wildlife officers that when he drove by Garner’s property later that night, he saw a deer lying on Garner’s property, but it had gotten up and ran further onto Garner’s land. When wildlife officers showed up at Garner’s home on October 21, Garner asked if they were there about the large deer. Garner then led the officers to the garage where he had the 201 inch trophy in the freezer. Garner had placed a temporary tag on the buck, and had planned to take it to a local taxidermist.
On inspecting the carcass, wildlife officers found a bullet hole in the rib cage; however, no bullet was ever recovered. For those of you not familiar with Ohio hunting regulations, October is archery only season! Garner claimed that he had not shot the buck, and that he had no idea where it came from. He stated that he just happened to find it in his apple orchard, and figured it was roadkill that had been left there to rot, and therefore, thought no one would care if he took it. When finding a roadkill deer in Ohio, a tag can be obtained from the ODNR, which would allow the finder to keep it legally. Yet, Garner did bother to do this; he simply placed one of his own temporary tags on the deer. (The article does not state whether or not Garner ever reported the deer through the Ohio game check system.)
Okay, now you see where the tagging a deer shot by another hunter came in to play. But, what about the charge of hunter harassment? Well, this again goes back to Garner’s neighbor. This neighbor is listed as Scott Michael, and during the investigation Michael made several allegations against Garner. Some of these allegations included Garner spraying coyote urine in a treestand hunted by Michael, and also placing items such as t-shirts, flags, and pinwheels near Michael’s hunting spots in order to scare the deer away. To help his cause, Michael had pictures that he had captured on his trail cameras; these pictures showed Garner stealing mineral blocks that Michael had placed out for the deer.
While Garner pleaded “no contest” to both charges, he did not simply accept the charges without making a few accusations of his own. Garner accused his neighbor, Michael, of frequently trespassing onto his property in order to find sheds and to take dead trophy bucks that could at times be found dead on Garner’s land. Garner’s attorney also accused the ODNR of twisting the facts of the story in order to get the prosecutor to file charges against Garner. Furthermore, Garner’s attorney felt that since Garner turned the deer over to the DNR, he had already paid restitution and no further action should have been taken.
The prosecutor’s office did not see things quite the same way, though. They felt that Garner knew exactly what he was doing when he placed his tag on that trophy buck. So, just how much did Garner pay for the charges of tagging a deer shot by another hunter and hunter harassment? Well, the grand total was $17,331.70. Though, I’m still not sure what it had to do with anything, all I can say is “that was one expensive duck!
To see the original article, which appeared in Outdoor News and was written by Frank Hinchey, click here