There’s no question modern digital and video remote scouting cameras have become an integral part of today’s must-have deer hunting equipment, and most serious hunters own at least one or two of the gadgets to track activity on their deer lease or personal hunting property.
The cameras and the technology behind them have come along way since the first ones were introduced some 10 years ago, and the practical uses for them have expanded to home security and wildlife research. In the past month alone, images found on hunters’ remote scouting cameras have led to the confirmation of mountain lions in southwestern Missouri, Louisiana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Without these 21st-century digital wonders, it is unlikely such a conclusive verification by game agency authorities would have been possible.
Then there’s the growing incidence of the photographs from these remote recording devices being used in court to help convict ne’er-do-wells who ignore our hunting laws and take game out of season or otherwise illegally.
Some "Headline Hunter" blog readers may have heard about an illegal hunting case out of Kentucky that made national headlines last week due to the unusual sentence handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge E. Robert Goebel. As part of a plea deal made in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Rodney Poteat of Salisbury, North Carolina, was barred from hunting anywhere in the world for 2 years as a condition of his unsupervised probation after admitting to illegally taking a 14-point buck in Hart County, Kentucky, last year.
Poteat was also ordered to pay more than $5,300 in restitution and court fees.
Court records indicate Poteat illegally obtained a resident Kentucky hunting license, failed to report his kill in Kentucky, and transported it to North Carolina on Nov. 27, 2010, where he tagged it illegally.
The case caught the attention of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife special investigations officers when hunters from the Hart County area provided them with scouting camera photos taken of a live deer with the distinctive antler configuration identically matching Poteat’s deer mount. Kentucky officers subsequently notified U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents who teamed with North Carolina officers for a visit to Poteat’s home.
Confronted with the photo evidence, Poteat admitted hunting in Kentucky since 1999 without purchasing the required licenses. He surrendered four deer mounts, two turkey mounts and a bobcat mount to investigators.
The happy conclusion? There’s no evidence like photo evidence!