Last year a gigantic poaching ring was taken down in Ohio and this year another huge poaching operation is no more, only this time it is Nebraska.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, 30 people have already pleaded guilty and have rung up a combined 53 years of hunting bans and over $570,000 in fines, and more are expected to come.
These charges and guilty pleas come after a combined state and federal investigation that centered around Hidden Hills Outfitters which is located near Broken Bow, Broken Bow, Nebraska.
The outfitter would take people out and have them take part in practices that are illegal under Nebraska law, that include but are not limited to hunting over bait, hunting from the road, hunting with a spotlight at night, using rifles during archery season, and hunting without the proper permits.
At least 97 game animals were killed illegally: 30 white-tailed deer, 34 mule deer, 6 pronghorn antelope, and 27 turkeys, but that is all investigators know about. Many of these animals were also wasted with just the heads cut off and the meat left to rot.
The investigation took five years and when everything came down they hit the co-owner and chief operator pretty hard. Jacob Hueftle was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $214,375 in restitution, jointly with his company. He also received a 15-year hunting ban that begins once he is released from jail.
Sportsman across the Nebraska are voicing their approval for the bust and the sentencing.
“It’s outstanding that they finally put some teeth in these violations and sentenced someone to something meaningful, rather than a fine,” said Tom Lanz, a lifelong hunter. “We manage wildlife for the benefit of everybody,” he said. “That wildlife has a value to society. When they steal that, they steal from all of us. It’s just offensive.”
“The ethical hunters of this state want things like this stopped and stopped for good,” said longtime hunter and hunting advocate Janice Spicha. “If you knowingly participate in illegal hunting activities, then you shouldn’t be able to hunt again. Ever.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nebraska won’t comment on whether the investigation continues or how many others will be prosecuted, but looking at the scope of the operation I would not be surprised if more indictments are on the way.
The heralds article goes into great depth with all the charges against Jacob Hueftle and the information he lays out in his plea deal is enough to make you sick. He did not respect hunting or the animals he killed.
Hopefully, this jail time will make him think long and hard about his life and the disgusting choice he made and when he does get out he will do his best to make amends.