Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Trophy scoring groups study falsified record book bucks

Circleville, Ohio – A hunter who pleaded guilty to falsely
tagging a 200-class buck admitted to making a false statement about
yet another high-fence trophy deer harvested in Licking County in
2006.

Rob McCarley, 47, of Circleveille, pleaded guilty Feb. 9 in
Circleville Municipal Court to making false statements to a
deer-check station for the kill of a non-typical 17-pointer on Dec.
8.

Now, both state and national trophy scoring organizations are
taking a close look at McCarley’s entries in their books.

McCarley paid $12,500 to shoot the prize buck in Holmes County
with a firearm at a high-fence preserve and later checked the deer
in Franklin County as a bow kill (Ohio Outdoor News, Jan. 30).

McCarley received a suspended 30-day jail sentence, a $250 fine,
and loss of hunting privileges for three years. Judge Gary Dumm
ordered McCarley to report to the Division of Wildlife any other
deer tags “inappropriately reported” as a condition of his
probation requirements, according to a court transcript.

In addition, the judge instructed McCarley to write a letter of
apology to Ohio sportsmen, which will be distributed by the
Division of Wildlife.

“It should open some eyes,” said Dave Lane, a Division of
Wildlife law enforcement field supervisor who attended McCarley’s
court hearing. “It taints the other (fair-chase hunters) who do it
legitimately. We should be teaching the youth the right way. It is
not only a sport, it is a heritage.”

In 2006, McCarley killed a deer that scored 185 3/8 at Sanctuary
Too, a 300-acre high-fence hunting preserve in Licking County near
Pataskala, according to the Division of Wildlife. McCarley made the
admission as part of his plea agreement to the 2008 charge.

At the time of the 2006 kill, McCarley paid a $5,000 membership
to hunt at the preserve, manager Chris Collins told Ohio Outdoor
News. The 2006 kill was also reported as having been harvested in
Franklin County. Because of a two-year statute of limitations,
McCarley was not charged for the 2006 offense, Lane said.

About a week after he met with Pickaway County Wildlife Officer
Ken Bebout on the 2008 charge, McCarley burned all of his mounts,
including the 2006 deer with the metal tag, said his lawyer, Robert
Huffer, according to a court transcript.

“He was distraught about what he had done,” Huffer said later in
an interview with Ohio Outdoor News. “He did not want to be
reminded by having them around.”

Lane said McCarley showed remorse during the hearing on the 2008
case.

In a Jan. 30 story in Ohio Outdoor News, McCarley said “I really
hurt my reputation . . . there is no one more sorry than I am.”

McCarley did not return a phone message seeking comment for this
story.

“It has been a difficult time for him,” said Bebout, one of the
investigators on the case. “It was difficult lesson for him to
learn.”

The Division of Wildlife reported that McCarley had previously
killed seven deer that qualified for the Buckeye Big Buck Club, two
of which were over 185 inches.

At its recent February trustees meeting, McCarley’s entries took
up much of the discussion, said Mike Rex, the club’s recording
secretary.

“It is a punch in the stomach to anyone who legally killed a
trophy buck under fair conditions,” Rex said.

As a result of McCarley’s case, the BBBC board of trustees on
Feb. 13 issued a clarification to its ineligibility criteria as it
pertains to game preserves.

The BBBC states that any whitetail deer taken within high-fence
enclosures will be considered non-fair chase and will not be
recognized as trophies in club records.

“Any individual attempting to enter a buck into our records
taken from a confined area will be banned from Buckeye Big Buck
Club membership for life,” the club stated.

“We find this offense to be so severe,” the BBBC board
concluded, “the general membership of the Buckeye Big Buck Club
decided a conviction of illegally tagging a whitetail deer that has
been purchased from a licensed game preserve and checked as a wild
fair chase harvest warrants immediate expulsion from the club, and
we make this rule retroactive to the clubs charter in 1958 with no
statute of limitations.”

McCarley’s 2006 buck was also recorded with Pope and Young and
Boone and Crockett, national hunting recordkeepers that promote
ethical hunting practices under fair-chase conditions.

Pope and Young, founded in 1961 with headquarters in Chatfield,
Minn, is the leading national bowhunting organization. The
117-year-old Boone and Crockett Club, based in Missoula, Mont., has
kept national big game records since 1932.

McCarley’s 2006 trophy likely will be removed from the Boone and
Crockett record after a review by the organization’s scoring
committee, said Jack Reneau, director of big game records for the
club. McCarley’s case is a first for the club involving a game
preserve deer, said Reneau, who has been with the club for 32
years.

Pope and Young is also reviewing the circumstances of McCarley’s
2006 entry, and the deer will likely be deleted from the
organization’s records, said Executive Secretary Ken Hisey.

Both Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young require anyone who
seeks recognition of a trophy class mount to submit a witnessed
affidavit that the game was harvested as fair-chase.

Pope and Young’s affidavit describes fair chase as “the ethical,
sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit of free-ranging wild game animals
in a manner which does not give the hunter an improper or unfair
advantage over the animal.”

The Boone and Crockett affidavit states that any game entered
for submission cannot have been “confined by artificial barriers,
including escape-proof fenced enclosures.” In addition the B&C
affidavit stipulates that if entries are misrepresented or
“fraudulent in any respect,” such entries are subject to deletion
and the hunter’s prior entries will be removed from future editions
of the club’s Records of North American Big Game.

Further, Reneau said McCarley should write a letter of apology
to both Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young for recording the
2006 deer taken at fenced game preserve.

At Sanctuary Too, where McCarley killed the 2006 deer legally
with a bow, manager Collins said he is disappointed about the
falsely reported kills.

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