California Man Fined $20,000 for Poaching Trophy Buck

(Photo: CDFW)

A 70-year-old man was recently convicted of poaching a trophy deer on his property outside of deer season with the aid of bait and a feeding device. His sentencing included a fine of $20,000. 

According to The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the investigation started when an El Dorado County wildlife officer observed what appeared to be a sizeable automatic deer feeder within his patrol district between 2017 and 2018. 

With the aid of camera surveillance, the game wardens were able to obtain photos of William Vaden of Elverta regularly baiting the area on his property with bales of alfalfa through August and September 2018, according to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office.

The District Attorney’s Office provides a timeline, on November 11, 2018, Varden spotted a large buck on his property, measuring 4×4, this measurement indicates that each side of the buck’s antlers split into four individual points.

Per California law, any buck with four or more points on each side is classified as a “trophy.” Despite Varden knowing the hunting season was over, he shot the buck. He then proceeded to report to the Department of Fish and Wildlife that he killed the deer on October 26, 2018.

Along with lying about when he harvested the buck, Varden forged the required counter-signature on the deer tag to cover his tracks. It didn’t work.

SEE ALSO: Wisconsin Shed Hunter Finds What May Be the Biggest Buck in Wisconsin History

Wardens confronted Vaden with their surveillance evidence of his baiting and questioned the date he claimed to have harvested the buck. Vaden eventually admitted to the wardens he had taken the trophy buck out of season and with the aid of bait. 

On February 4, 2020, Vaden pled no contest to the charge of taking a deer with the aid of bait and taking it out of season; he also admitted to the special allegation that this deer fell under California’s trophy statue.

Varden was then sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine according to Fish and Game Code section 12013.3(a)(1) and (a)(3), which imposes an enhanced fine for harvesting a trophy deer illegally. 

Erin Tognetti, the prosecuting attorney, told the LA Times, “Vaden will serve time through a work project or by wearing an ankle monitor. He also surrendered his rifle and camera and is under a three-year probation in which he is not allowed to hunt.”

Editor’s note: This article was written by Michael Johnson Jr.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • LJ March 3, 2020, 10:10 am

    Let me see if I get this right; 70 year old man kills “trophy” 8 point buck out of season and lies about the harvest date and files bogus papers with the DNR … guilty. In most states, a couple thousand dollar fine and a loss of hunting privileges for a few years.

    But in Kalifornia – $20,000 fine, 30 days in jail to be spent wearing an ankle bracelet, loss of gun, camera, and three years loss of hunting rights, all for killing a “trophy” 8 point buck?

    But an illegal immigrant can enter Kalifornia, AKA sanctuary city, commit crimes, get kicked out and illegally return over and over again, murder someone, and still have more rights and receive less punishment than this 70 year old “trophy” buck poacher.

    Only in Kalifornia …

    • Walter morris March 5, 2020, 9:20 am

      It is a good thing kalifornia politician aren’t held to the same standards. They have created a 3rd world country in their state and all that happens is they give themselves another raise. I am sure that $20,000 goes into their pension fund. No justice when living in a communist state!!!

  • Jerry ly March 3, 2020, 4:58 am

    One deer to all the eligal people you people put in your sanctuary city’s

    Wow who’s in charge

    Poor 70year old man

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