Poachers, smugglers, and other fish and game felons steal our shared natural resources, and “Cal’s Poaching Desk” is here with all the sordid details. For more stories of wildlife wrongdoing, be sure to tune in to “Cal’s Week in Review.” New episodes drop every Sunday.
A Minnesota man is being charged with second-degree murder after he killed another man with a moose paddle.
Twenty-seven-year-old Levi Axtell told authorities that he suspected 77-year-old Lawrence Scully of stalking his toddler-age daughter. Scully was convicted of molesting a six-year-old girl all the way back in 1979, but police haven’t said whether there was any truth to Axtell’s claims.
Whatever the case may be, Axtell decided to take matters into his own hands, according to CBS Minnesota. He crashed his car into a vehicle on Scully’s driveway, entered his home, and reportedly struck the older man 15 to 20 times with a shovel. Apparently, the shovel wasn’t quite doing the job because Axtell later told authorities that he grabbed a moose paddle and used it to “finish him off.”
Axtell turned himself in to the police immediately after the incident.
Another man turned himself in to authorities after a far-less-serious-but-still-grisly crime. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that a man blamed “elk fever” for his decision to shoot from a road into a herd of elk.
Officials have not identified the man, but the 66-year-old allegedly killed one elk and wounded at least three others with a rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. There were about 30 animals in the herd, and while he did possess a late-season cow elk tag, he ended up hitting at least two other cows and one bull.
Game wardens put down one of the cows and the bull, and the other cow swam into the Nehalem River, where officials believe she drowned.
The man harvested one of the cows and turned himself in after the landowner encouraged him to do so. He has been cited with one count of using a prohibited hunting method and two counts of unlawful take of an elk.
I’m not a doctor, but if this man is suffering from elk fever, I think there’s only one real solution.
Up in Michigan, game wardens arrested and charged two men with illegally possessing firearms and drugs after they initially pulled them over for suspected hunting violations.
The two men were driving around a remote area of the Pigeon River Country State Forest. When game wardens stopped their vehicle, they noticed that the passenger had a .308 rifle leaning against his right leg with a round balanced on the door handle, and the driver had a loaded .22-caliber rifle behind his seat.
When questioned, they said they were “out looking to hunt stuff.” That may have been true, but game violations turned out to be the least of their concerns. A search of the rental car turned up two additional firearms, alcohol, several containers of crystal meth, marijuana, and evidence of drug use.
Staying in Michigan, six Colorado men have been fined a combined $6,600 after they were caught using an illegal fishing method to snag salmon from the Manistee River. Game wardens seized over 460 pounds of fish, which were donated to local charities.
We covered this incident back in Episode 183, but the DNR just reported that the men have each been fined $1,100. I’ll let the good people of the Mitten State decide whether that penalty was too harsh, not harsh enough, or juuust right.
In another case where poaching violations led to more serious crimes, a Minnesota man was hit with firearm and drug charges after being investigated for illegal bear guiding.
Fifty-five-year-old Bret Glatzmaier was already on probation for felony livestock rustling when officers conducted a search of his home in Becker County. As you can imagine, one thing kind of led to another, and ol’ Bret had himself a pretty bad day.
Officers noticed a corn feeder and pumpkins in his yard, and while baiting doesn’t appear to be illegal in Becker County, Glatzmaier admitted to shooting a deer out of season from his window. Officers also found eight rifles and two shotguns in his home, which are illegal for him to possess, given his pending livestock rustling felony. Agents added another felony after they found a gram of meth in his bedroom.
All of those crimes are on top of a misdemeanor violation after investigators discovered that Glatzmaier had charged a woman $600 for a guided black bear hunt back in September.
An Illinois man will pay over $20,000 after DNR investigators accused him of illegally harvesting an eight-point and 12-point whitetail deer. As is common in these cases, his true crimes were actually much more extensive.
Fifty-eight-year-old Jerry Stafford runs a high-fence hunting operation called Samson's Whitetail Mountain. Stafford found himself under investigation after he began advertising “low-fence” hunts in conjunction with the Illinois whitetail hunting season. Stafford and his unpermitted guides were apparently willing to do almost anything to get their client’s a deer. They were documented hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle and the use of lights, hunting before legal shooting hours, hunting without permission, and violating tagging requirements.
In exchange for pleading guilty to two whitetail buck violations and a misdemeanor for improperly disposing of an animal, he received 24 months of court supervision along with the $20,000 fine.
Note: The feature image is not the actual murder weapon.
For more poaching and conservation news, along with dope animal facts, check out “Cal’s Week in Review.” New episodes drop every Sunday.