Two Kentucky men featured on a national TV hunting show face more than $30,000 in fines after pleading no contest to poaching two bull elk while they were shooting a show in Wyoming in 2014.
Ricky J. Mills, 37, and Jimmy G. Duncan, 25, both of Bedford, Ky., were charged with numerous wildlife offenses, according to a Wyoming Game and Fish Department news release, which said the tandem were stars on "Hunting in the Sticks," a weekend warriors-style show on hunting and fishing that is aired on a handful of cable channels, including Pursuit.
The tandem pleaded no contest on March 13, according to the state agency, which said the defendants were fined and had their privileges revoked:
Mills was sentenced to pay $7,460 in fines, $6,000 in restitution for the bull elk he killed, $240 in court costs and lost his hunting privileges for 15 years. He will be entered into the Wildlife Violator Compact which will prevent him from hunting and trapping in 43 participating states.
Duncan has to pay $7,500 in fines, $6,000 in restitution for the bull elk he killed, $4,000 in restitution for killing an antelope in 2013 in another case and $240 in court costs. He was also suspended for 15 years from hunting and trapping and will be entered into the Wildlife Violator Compact. The elk mounts from both men were forfeited to the Game and Fish.
According to the Wyoming Game and Fish, the case began when a citizen called the agency after watching an episode of the show entitled "Western Redemption," in which Mills and Duncan are shown killing the bull elks.
"Hunting in the Sticks," which is based in Kentucky, is reportedly aired on four channels, including Pursuit, AliveTV and Hunt Channel. There was no immediate word on the case's impact on the show, which features other men not implicated in this case.
The caller noticed that the area they claimed to have killed their elk, did not match the area of their licenses, the state agency said in the news release.
"An investigator from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Investigative Unit and Douglas Game Warden Rod Lebert opened the case and began an exhaustive search for the kill sites north of Douglas in the Cow Creek Buttes and Miller Hills areas. When the first kill site was located, they collected evidence and a solid case was built against the poachers." — Wyoming Game and Fish
"This case could not have been made without the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources agents," Mike Ehlebracht, investigative supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish, said in the news release. "Through search warrants and interviews we were able to make a case and both men confessed."
Investigators determined that Mills and Duncan killed mature bull elks on private property in 2014 while deer hunting in Deer Hunt Area 10, in northern Converse County. Both men also had elk licenses, but the licenses with valid only in Elk Hunt Area 51, which borders Yellowstone National Park in northwest Wyoming, and not in Elk Hunt Area 113, where the animals were killed.
Area 113 is a popular hunting area in which few licenses are issued and bulls are allowed to be harvested only every other year.
Investigators also determined the pair tried to do a similar thing in 2013, when Duncan was determined to have killed an antelope buck without a license.
"I believe the two defendants were driven to get kill shot footage for the television show and that resulted in their making bad decisions," Ehlebracht said.