Hunting Accident File > Violations

OH: Hunter lies and is busted - gets slap on the wrist

September 14, 2010

George Little: Telling the truth and what happens when you don't


John Clay, who had been convicted of poaching 10 times in Ohio, had to try it one more time. Hunting out of season in Ohio, he poached the highest-scoring typica.

Since he shot the deer out of season in Ohio, Clay took it across the state line into Kentucky, where it was deer season, and turned it in there. It was the new Kentucky state record.

Clay put together such a great story and achieved such fame that he was made a "pro staff" member of a TV hunting website.

Riding his wave of popularity, Clay was holding court in a "hero hunter" booth at the Ohio Deer & Turkey Expo when an Ohio hunter recognized Clay's trophy as the same deer he had taken pictures of the past summer - 60 miles from the Kentucky state line.

Not only that, the Ohio hunter previously had showed his pictures and video to the local game warden, because the deer was so big that he wanted no shroud of suspicion should he be lucky enough to legally harvest the buck he had nicknamed Big Boy.

Clay knew the jig was up when Ohio game warden Chris Gilkey came into his booth and started laying down pictures taken in Adams County, Ohio, where Big Boy routinely grazed in a bean field. Gilkey told Clay he knew the deer was taken illegally and he could prove it. Clay caved. He said, "I can't deny any of it."

In exchange for jail time, Clay paid a nominal fine, gave up his gun and bow and has lost hunting privileges for life - in 34 states. Not much of a punishment for a serial poacher who doesn't hunt legally anyway.

Clay claimed to be honestly sorry - here we go again.

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