Florida man accused of cutting off elk legs with chain saw
November 10, 2010
Wildlife violations: Florida man accused of cutting off elk legs with
chain saw Wildwood businessman James "Ike" Rainey, owner of the Rainey
A Central Florida construction company owner cut off the legs of a dead
elk with a chainsaw for a photo opportunity while hunting in Montana, new
Wildwood businessman James "Ike" Rainey, owner of the Rainey Construction
Co., is one of eight defendants who were charged with felony poaching
violations in Montana last week.
Rainey and Mark Morse, president and chief operating officer of The
Villages retirement community 60 miles northwest of Orlando, are facing
charges for illegally killing and possessing animals on their Montana
Rainey is accused of leaving wounded animals he hunted in the forest to
die, chopping off their heads without harvesting the meat and sawing off the
legs of a dead elk to position it better for a photo, according to
affidavits from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Documents show Morse and Rainey told wildlife officials they had proper
licenses to kill animals on their M Squared and Wolf Mountain ranches in
Yellowstone and Big Horn counties.
Morse said he bought the land primarily for hunting.
But state officials found no licenses issued to the businessmen for the
years the alleged violations took place.
The permits they did have, documents stated, were subject to restrictions
and conditions Morse and Rainey failed to follow.
Rainey's Montana lawyer Mike Sherwood would not comment on the case but
did say wildlife officials overstepped their boundaries.
"I consider it unethical for FWP to make those public statements. They
are designed to influence the jury," he said. "I consider it a breach of
ethics." A message for Morse was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Robert Gibson, a spokesman for the Montana wildlife agency, did not say
what sparked the investigation but said people "involved with the family"
divulged the information because they were uncomfortable with what was going
on at the ranches.
But he would not provide details.
Former Florida Fish and Wildlife game warden Rick Staton, who was also
charged with misdemeanor crimes relating to the case, was hired as the ranch
manager in 2008 at Wolf Mountain Ranch - co-owned by Rainey and Morse.
Staton said he saw them overhunt dozens of bull elk and deer. He helped
dispose of the animals after their heads were removed for mounting.
Officials later found some of the body parts in the barn rafters.
In November 2008, Rainey shot a male elk and directed them to take it "up
the hill with a four-wheeler," then cut the legs "with a chainsaw for better
positioning of the elk for photographs," Staton said.
The elk meat was cleaned and chopped but later spoiled inside an
unplugged freezer. Game wardens dug up holes on the ranches where the bones
- specifically ribcages and spinal columns - had been buried.
"Most Montana hunters find it totally egregious to waste the meat,"
Gibson said. "Most people in Montana eat what they kill."
Hunters can bring game meat to local processing plants in Montana that
will clean, cut, and freeze it for a nominal fee, he said. The meat is then
donated to local food banks for the hungry.
Rainey is accused of breaking the law after leaving an animal he wounded
to die in the woods, Gibson said. Witness statements also allege he chopped
off the head and the left the carcass of another elk he killed with an
"You are supposed to make every attempt to find game that is wounded and
humanely kill it to save the meat," Gibson said. "In addition to being
illegal, it's really unethical. It's a really a big no-no for hunters."
Wolf Mountain ranch manager Toby Lee Griffith, who was also charged in
the case, said he found the decomposing bodies eaten by animals after
arguing with Rainey about the killings. He told officials he was "disgusted"
with Rainey and supplied investigators with evidence of the incident
including photographs and the bloody arrow.
Attorney Mark Parker said the agency is exaggerating the case beyond the
"You get more press for a dead elk than you do a dead baby around here,"
Parker said, who is representing Griffith. "More animals were killed on the
road during this conversation than on these ranches."
He said the Montana's hunting rules change so often from district to the
district that "it's not hard to find yourself in a technical violation."
Investigators seized photographs, trophy mounts, rotting meat, and
carcasses from the two properties as evidence in the case that could cost
the Morse family and Rainey hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines,
possible prison time, and a loss of hunting and fishing privileges,
Morse alone faces 21.5 years in prison and $203,000 in fines if
convicted. Rainey faces a fine of $53,000 and more than five years in
Others charged include Lenard Lee Powell, president of LPI Curb Service,
a concrete construction company that does work at The Villages and David
Duncan, a hunting outfitter that sold licenses to the Morse family and
Return to Hunting Accident Index
Fair Use Notice: This document may contain copyrighted material
whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. We believe
that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes
a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section
107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted
material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must
obtain permission from the copyright owner.