DFG: Trophy Deer Are Hoaxes
September 29, 2010
An Elk Grove man who claimed to have killed several state-record-class deer is facing several charges for wildlife violations.
According to the California Department of Fish and Game, 29-year-old Coleman Lee Houston purchased deer antlers on eBay, transferred them to another carcass and claimed he killed the deer in El Dorado County in October 2009.
State laws prohibit buying, selling or bartering wildlife parts. If convicted, Houston could face jail time.
"I personally have never seen this kind of elaborate scheme," said Conversation Officer Sean Pirtle, who is leading the investigation. "It blows me away that Coleman would go to these lengths. He did talk up a pretty good story."
Houston had posted photos of the deer on the Internet.
Pirtle grew up in the area where Houston claimed to have killed the deer, and recognized that D5-zone deer with antlers wider that 30 inches were unprecedented.
"At first, I figured he was taking deer in the X zones and slapping D-zone tags on them," Pirtle told California Game & Fish.
Pirtle filed the case with the Sacramento District Attorney's Office in December.
In addition to these deer, Houston has said he shot state-record-sized blacktail deer in 2007 and 2008. The DFG is investigating these claims as well.
In 2008, Houston contacted several publications and organizations about his 2007 and 2008 deer claims. He submitted photos and detailed stories about the animals and hunts. Several record-keeping organizations measured his deer and accepted them into their record books.
California Game & Fish magazine published photos and a story about Houston in its September 2009 issue as well as on its Web site.
Houston has not responded to recent requests for comment from Game & Fish magazine. Houston was cooperating with the investigation, said Pirtle.
Updates to this story will be posted at www.californiagameandfish.com.