Kansas Record Buck Poached

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

 

There are few things I can think of that disgust me more than a poacher. A repeat poaching offender, however, is the lowest of low.

Before we dive in here, we should all remember that this is a country based on the presumption of innocence. The incident in question is under investigation and only the guy who pulled the trigger really knows what happened. At least for now. But very soon, I suspect, law enforcement officials will reveal the rest of the story.

To get started, we must revisit a tragic day in 2007 when an 18-year-old kid lost his life.

On that day in 2007, Kansas resident David Kent and his brother Theron Thomas Kent were reportedly coyote hunting when they spotted what they thought was a field full of geese. Those geese were actually the decoy spread of 18-year-old Beau Arndt and his buddies who were enjoying a morning of legal goose hunting.

Theron rolled down the window, stuck out his rifle and started shooting at the "geese."

No geese were killed in that poaching attempt. But 18-year-old Arndt was.

According to the Emporia Gazette, Theron claimed he was shooting at a coyote. The court disagreed and charged Theron with involuntary manslaughter, unlawful hunting, unlawful discharge of a firearm and sentenced him to three years of prison. Theron was released Nov. 18, 2010 on low-level supervisory parole.

Nearly one year after Theron was released from prison, the Kent family finds itself embroiled in another high-profile suspected poaching incident.

David Kent brought a monster whitetail to the recent Kansas Monster Buck Classic in Topeka, Kan., last month. The world-class buck is a typical 7x7 that reportedly nets just under 200 inches. It would have surpassed the state's all-time typical record.

If it had been taken legally. And, apparently, that's a very big "if."

According to a number of reports, including those from Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine and local newspapers,the buck was reported to have been tagged in "northeast" Kansas, but trail camera photos surfaced of the buck in a different part of the state. This prompted an investigation by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and now Kent faces charges including criminal discharge of a firearm, criminal hunting, illegally hunting with an artificial light, hunting outside of legal hours, illegal hunting during a closed season, using an illegal caliber for taking big game, illegal hunting from a vehicle, and hunting without a valid deer permit.

The antlers of the incredible whitetail were seized at the Monster Buck Classic, charges have been filed and it has been reported that Kent has admitted to taking the deer illegally. But this clearly isn't the last we'll hear of this story.

News of this has rekindled an old debate on whether poaching fines should be more severe. I agree that fines should indeed be stiff. But David Kent's brother spent three years in prison after killing an 18-year-old kid during a poaching incident. That seems to have had no impact on David Kent. Which begs the question: For criminals like this, is there really a penalty that will deter them?