Littering leads to trophy buck poaching case
Marysville, Ohio — A deer poacher was ordered to pay $3,893.30 in restitution for illegally harvesting a trophy buck that scored 1417⁄8 inches.
Randy Smith Jr., 38, of Marysville, was convicted of violations involving a second offense of hunting without permission, leaving an untagged deer with another person, failing to immediately tag a deer, failing to game check a deer by noon the day after its harvest, possessing deer parts taken illegally, removing the head or hide of a deer prior to game check, taking more than one antlered deer in a season, jacklighting, and hunting from a roadway with the aid of a motor vehicle, according to a DNR news release.
Judge Michael Grigsby sentenced Smith in Marysville Municipal Court recently to pay $2,400 in fines with $1,500 suspended, and $592 in court costs.
Smith’s hunting privileges were suspended for three years, during which time he is not allowed to possess deer or deer parts. Judge Grigsby suspended a 590-day jail sentence.
Smith was also ordered to forfeit two white-tailed deer heads, two shotguns, and three crossbows to the state. The other deer poached by Smith scored 1174⁄8 inches, under the 125-inch minimum standard for trophy deer status and subject to restitution.
Smith also was convicted of illegally possessing a firearm due to a prior felony conviction, according to the news release.
On Oct. 18, Common Pleas Judge Don Fraser suspended a three-year prison sentence and ordered Smith to the Marysville-based West Central Community Correctional Facility for up to 189 days. In addition, Smith was placed on community control for five years.
As a result of the same investigation conducted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Smith’s brother Jason Welsh, 45, of North Lewisburg, Ohio, was also charged with several wildlife violations.
Welsh was later convicted in Champaign County Municipal Court of tagging a deer taken by another person, removing the head or hide of a deer prior to game check, failing to game check a deer by noon of the day following harvest, and providing false information to game check, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Judge Gil S. Weithman ordered Welsh to pay $600 in fines and $164 in court costs. Weithman suspended a 20-day jail sentence.
Union County Wildlife Officer Josh Shields said the charges resulted from what began in 2015 as complaints concerning littering and hunting without permission and led to a year’s worth of evidence that could have resulted in 40 violations against the poachers. During the investigation, four search warrants were executed, he said.
“It was one of the biggest cases I have worked on,” he said.
Shields was assisted by the Marysville Police Department, the Union County dog warden, DOW investigators Christopher Rice, Justus Nethero, and Kandy Klosterman, and Union County Assistant Prosecutor Rick Roger. During the investigation, DOW investigators determined that Smith may have illegally harvested as many as 12 deer.
“He said he got buck fever and got carried away,” Shields said.
He would often exchange text phone messages with his brother about road shooting, Shields said.
Smith didn’t even consume the deer meat, the officer said.
“I’ve had some history with him,” Shields said.
The investigation revealed that Smith would often jacklight a deer and return to the area the next day to ask the landowner if he could look for deer that had been shot.
“The sporting community in Union County was expecting this guy to be held accountable,” Shields said.