A history of hunting violations has led to one Florida man being forced to sell Nebraska property. The violations were first noticed in the fall of 2020 after an area game warden received a tip about the issues. This tip led to investigations which further led to the game wardens uncovering illegal hunting practices that involve a Florida guide baiting deer on a Nebraska property he leased to hunters.
Nebraska Game Warden Stakes Out Hunting Site After 2020 Tip
Nebraska game warden Josh Widhelm staked out an area a few hunting seasons ago. As he watched a handful of hunters walk out of the woods, one deer in tow, Windhelm knew the events were only beginning to unfold.
“That’s when the ball started rolling,” the Nebraska Game and Parks conservation officer said in a recent interview. The initial encounter would soon lead to some big breakthroughs. Including 15 citations among 13 suspects. It would also lead to 10 deer being seized. Three of which are trophy bucks. As well as thousands of dollars worth of court-ordered damages.
The investigation led to an unprecedented plea deal in which the man behind the illegal operations agreed to sell his Nebraska property to avoid jail time. He also agreed that he would not be renting, buying, or leasing any other properties in the Nebraska county for five years.
Conservation Officers Investigate Florida Man’s Hunting Violations
The tip that initially brought the issue to the attention of the Nebraska Game and Parks set off a 14-month long investigation. During this time, the conversation officers worked diligently; searching for signs of illegal game-baiting.
“In this case, the hunters were just throwing corn all over the forest and hunting over those piles of corn,” Widhelm explains.
“You could tell they just casted it out,” the conservation officer continues.
“There were corn kernels all over this river bottom forest,” he said. “Where corn had no business being.”
The Hunting Guide Was Illegally Baiting the Deer
During their investigation, Widhelm and the other officers discovered tups full of corn kernels; along with signs that deer had been hunted in the vicinity. While it’s not illegal to feed deer, the way it was being done in this case was entirely against the law. It is illegal to hunt deer within 200 yards of a feeding site.
As the investigation continued, the Nebraska conservation officers learned that the hunting guide, a Florida resident, leased the land in question during deer-hunting season. Serving as a guide for other Floridians looking to hunt in the area.
According to Widhelm, the man, 60-year-old Daryll W. Futch would purchase the hunting permits for the hunters. Futch would also set the hunters up in shooting stands; process the deer; take the deer heads to a taxidermist, and transport the resulting meat to Florida.
According to the Florida hunters, they paid the guide up to $7,000 each for the hunting experience. Widhelm also notes this was not the first time Futch pleaded guilty to a similar issue. In 2015, he plead guilty to hunting in a baited area.
“It’s not like he didn’t know what he was doing,” Widhelm says of the guide. “He knew exactly what he was doing.”