Alaska Hunting Guide Sentenced to Prison, Found Guilty of Multiple Wildlife Crimes

by Emily Morgan

According to the Department of Justice, a court has sentenced an Alaska hunting guide to six months in prison for illegally leading big-game hunts and committing various wildlife crimes on federal land.

In July, the suspect, Stephen Hicks, reached a plea deal in U.S. District Court. The agreement required him to serve six months in an Oregon prison, followed by three years of supervised probation. In addition, the court ordered Hicks to let go of his interest in a Piper Super Cub airplane and pay $13,400 in restitution.

“The need for prison is to make clear that blatant disregard for state and federal fish and wildlife rules will not be tolerated,” Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason said when deciding Hicks’ sentence.

In the fall of 2021, the 45-year-old Anchorage hunter pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act by guiding a paying client on a sheep hunt on federally owned lands near Max Lake in Alaska.

Beyond not having the proper permits, Hicks also broke state law by failing to be in the area when his client hunted and killed a Dall sheep.

During sentencing, prosecutors brought up several other state charges against Hicks, which occurred over five years from 2014 to 2019.

Those crimes included properly disposing of moose meat, illegally baiting bears, capturing big game without paying for necessary tags, and guiding clients without a license.

“Hicks’ illegal activity demonstrates that he placed profit over professionalism, profit and income over guiding ethics, and profit over hunting ethics,” attorneys wrote in the official sentencing papers.

Alaskan hunting guide’s former clients tell all about expeditions gone wrong

In addition, several charges against Hicks came from a 2017 hunt he guided. As part of a court trial in 2019, Hicks’ former clients described their hunting excursions to prosecutors. The three clients recalled a trip where they stayed in a filthy cabin infested with mold and rat feces.

Additionally, they added that Hicks was missing for several days. They also stated that one of them shot a brown bear without Hicks on site.

Moreover, the clients said they were concerned that Hicks’s assistant guide was unfamiliar with the area. They also pointed out that Hicks used aircraft to locate moose, according to the sentencing document.

After all was said and done, an Alaskan judge revoked Hicks’ license in 2019.

Later, federal prosecutors pointed out other instances where Hicks led guided expeditions without the proper license. He also broke other wildlife laws.

However, the state dropped their charges when a court gave the federal sentence because the federal prosecution included the state’s charges in their sentencing.

After serving his prison sentence, Hicks will immediately begin his three-year supervised probationary period. He will not be allowed to fly private aircraft or hunt in commercial ventures during this time.