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Illegal Hunting & Outfitting Case Nets Multiple Defendants
Fri Nov 09 14:42:00 MST 2012
Enforcement - Region 6
This news release was archived on Sun Dec 09 14:42:00 MST 2012

Several years of investigative efforts by state officials in Montana, Pennsylvania and Mississippi have resulted in six men being convicted on wildlife-related criminal charges in Phillips County Justice Court.

Dirk Paulsen, a Chinook-based warden with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, began investigating reports of illegal outfitting in the Frenchman Creek area of north Phillips County in 2009. He soon learned that Tabb Huntley, 56, of Deer Lodge, Mont., had secured a hunting lease on a nearby ranch, despite not being licensed with the state as an outfitter.

“It was discovered that nonresident hunters were coming up to the ranch to hunt antlered deer but were only purchasing antlerless Deer B licenses,” Paulsen said. “The hunting took place on both private and public lands. Huntley acted as an outfitter and provided the lease and accommodations for the nonresident hunters under the ruse that they were participating in a legal hunting club.” 

Through help from wardens in Mississippi and Pennsylvania and a search warrant executed on Huntley’s residence, a number of taxidermy mounts of illegally harvested mule deer and white-tailed deer were seized and Huntley and five non-resident hunters were charged, Paulsen said.

As part of plea agreements recently approved by Phillips County Justice of the Peace Gary Taylor, the following misdemeanor convictions and penalties were entered:

  • Huntley pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of a game animal and two counts of acting as outfitter or guide without a license. He paid $1,000 in fines and $3,500 in restitution and lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for four years.
  • Mark Vetula, 56, of Homer City, PA, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a game animal. He was fined $535, paid $500 in restitution and lost his privileges for two years.
  • Brian Szalkowski, 43, of Homer City, PA, pleaded guilty to failing to keep a legal license attached to game animal. He received a $135 fine.
  • Larry Cox, 55, of Lake Cormorant, MS, pleaded guilty to hunting without a valid license and unlawful possession of a deer. He paid $1,070 in fines, $500 in restitution and lost his privileges for two years.
  • Donald Allen, 45, of Thaxton, MS, pleaded guilty to hunting without a valid license, unlawfully possessing a deer and illegally transporting an untagged deer. He paid $1,205 in fines, $500 in restitution and lost his privileges for two years.
  • Bennie Randolph, 62, of Pontotoc, MS, pleaded guilty to hunting without a valid license, unlawfully possessing a deer and illegally transporting an untagged deer. He paid $1,205 in fines, $500 in restitution and lost his privileges for two years.