By JIM ABRAMS

Junior Troyer of Millersburg pushed wildlife regulations a bit too far when he couldn’t resist the chance to bag a 26-point trophy buck he spotted in Coshocton County. Division of Wildlife officers got wind of the activity and they began digging for the facts.

According to court records filed by the officers, Troyer shot an eight-point buck earlier in the day on Nov. 7. He went back out hunting in the evening and shot the 26-point buck.

He decapitated both deer and tagged in the body of the eight-point with the head of the 26-point. The next morning he checked in the headless body of the 26-pointer as a doe. He threw the head of the eight-point buck in a ditch, which was later recovered by authorities.

State laws allow hunters to only harvest one antlered deer per license year and Troyer was clearly in violation. Wildlife authorities filed five charges: providing false information while game-checking deer; attaching a game-check number to a deer other than the deer it was issued to; taking more than one antlered deer in a license year; possessing deer or deer parts without an attached valid deer tag; and attaching an antlerless deer game-check number to an antlered deer.

On Dec. 13, Troyer pleaded no contest to the violations and Judge Timothy France was less than thrilled. He found Troyer guilty, ordering him to pay $150 for each charge and an additional $87 each in court costs. But there was one more strike of the gavel coming.

Ohio Revised Code 1531.201, passed 96-0 in the House of Representatives and 29-1 in the Senate, was first approved in October 1994 and updated in March 2008. It allows for civil action to recover possession or value of illegally killed wild animals. The law sets higher restitution for valuable and rare wildlife.

In part, the regulation outlines that in addition to any restitution value established in division rules, a person who is convicted of a violation of the Ohio Revised Code or a Division of Wildlife rule governing the holding, taking, buying, sale or possession of an antlered white-tailed deer with a gross score of more than 125 inches also shall pay an additional restitution.

The formula used to compute the amount is (gross score minus 100)2 x $1.65. The numbers were arrived at through experts in the wildlife field, other agencies’ input and with the support of state and national sportsmen groups. It uses the standard method of scoring whitetail deer racks.

So, let’s get to the real numbers. The nontypical buck that Troyer killed illegally scored an impressive 2287/8. Prior to updating the regulation in 2008, the highest restitution value for a deer was $400, an amount less respectable hunters would gladly pay for the chance to get away with the kill.

That’s no longer the case and Troyer has added his name to the list of those to find this out the hard way. Judge France ordered that, on top of the fines and cost, that Troyer really pay for the crime: He levied a $27,904.46 spanking.

Troyer lost his hunting privileges for one year and will be entered into the Wildlife Violator Compact, losing hunting rights in 46 other states. The municipal court website lists all penalties as having been paid.

Some will think it harsh, but I’m not one of them. Wildlife Officer Chris Gilkey summed it up while addressing another case: “The unfortunate aspect … is that this buck could have been the trophy of a lifetime for a law-abiding hunter but, instead, someone got greedy and poached it. I’m just glad we were able to make the case and bring the poacher to justice.”

Ditto, Chris. That’s why we do what we do and that’s why honest hunters and wildlife enthusiasts strongly support wildlife enforcement.

“A hunt based only on the trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.” — Fred Bear

Along the way:

Recreational rifle, pistol and shotgun shooting with the ever-growing interest in responsible concealed carry has put quite a strain on shooting ranges. I’m often asked about the availability of ranges of all types and, while available, many don’t offer everything that many marksmen require.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is offering help for clubs and to anyone interested in developing or improving their ranges at its Range Development and Operations Conference.

The conference should be of special interest to aspiring entrepreneurs who may have thought about starting their own business and wonder what it would take to open their own facility. It’s a lot of work, but entrepreneurs who want to offer up a world-class shooting facility to gun owners in their area have a wealth of expertise to rely on for help: the NRA.

Scheduled for March 23 to 25 in Pittsburgh, the conference will cover business planning; EPA lead standards; grants; construction; sound abatement; range equipment costs; master planning; range maintenance; range safety; law enforcement; NRA programs; and insurance.

Other critical topics include indoor and outdoor range construction; design and construction process; developing a community relations program; and range safety and health.

Registration for the conference is $575 ($500 for NRA-affiliated clubs and business alliance members), which includes all conference materials as well as a copy of the NRA Range Source Book on CD-ROM.

To register:

https://rangeservices.nra.org/development-training/range-development-operations-conference/

Step outside:

• Today: Join Fin Feather Fur Outfitters for their third annual Eat Wild event at their Ashland store located at 652 US 250 E, Ashland. Enjoy deer-processing demos, cooking and sausage-making demos, try wild game prepared a variety of ways and get tips from the pros. The event is free and the public is welcome, beginning at 11 a.m. Preregistration is appreciated at: https://app.wyng.com/EatWildPreRegistration.

• Today: Members-only shoot, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Hancock County Conservation League (HCCL), 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay. Not a member and going to miss the fun? Membership information is available by contacting marathonsteve@aol.com or visiting http://www.hancockccl.com.

• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.

• Jan. 23: Professionals from the Division of Wildlife and Antwerp Conservation Club will cover topics including how to pressure-can venison and how to make venison jerky. Wild game smoking techniques and venison preparation recipes will also be shared. The location is Antwerp Conservation Club, 17814 Road 53, Antwerp, lasting from 6 to 9 p.m. Preregistration is required by Jan. 18. Contact Andrea Altman at 419-429-8321.

• Feb. 10: Winter Trap League, Fostoria United Sportsmen’s Club, 1324 U.S. 23 N, Fostoria. League will run for six Sundays, with no early sign-up required. A five-person squad is required to shoot. Practice opens at 9 a.m., event begins at 10 a.m., and kitchen opens at 8 a.m. for breakfast and lunch. Email fostoriasportsmen@gmail.com or call 419-435-4953 for information. The club will also be hosting ATA shoots this year, with dates to be determined.

• March 2: Wood duck box building day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oakwoods Nature Preserve, 1400 Oakwoods Lane, Findlay, hosted by Black Swamp Bucks Unlimited. This free event is a perfect way to spend time with children. Help them build their very own nesting box and instill a love for the outdoors. Black Swamp Bucks Unlimited will provide lunch and all the materials. For more information or to register, email Info@BlackSwampBucks.com

• March 23 to 25: NRA Shooting Range Development and Operations Conference, Pittsburgh. For info, visit https://rangeservices.nra.org/development-training/range-development-operations-conference/

Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at jimsfieldnotes@aol.com

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