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California man convicted of poaching trophy deer

California man convicted of poaching trophy deer

Photo credit: Thinkstock

After an El Dorado County wildlife officer noticed an automatic deer feeder on a California property within his district, he decided to keep tabs on it. Thanks to his careful observation, he was able to nab poacher William Vaden, 70, who was using the feeder to bait deer, and eventually poached a trophy class buck on the property. However, after a thorough investigation, Vaden confessed to “killing deer out of season with the aid of bait and falsifying validation signatures on deer tags,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). 

“Baiting cases involve persistent investigative work on the part of a wildlife officer,” said CDFW’s Lt. Stacey LaFave. “Early mornings, long hours of surveillance and keen observations are required to make a case.”

Footwear now live at goHUNT

According to CDFW, Vaden will serve 90 days of alternative sentences and is required to pay a $20,000 fine to Fish and Game Code Trophy enhancements. He will forfeit “most of the seized items” and serve three years’ summary court probation. He cannot hunt during his probation term and “is subject to search and seizure of his person, home, automobile and electronic devices for evidence of unlawful hunting.” 

Did the punishment fit the crime?


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Garry H. - posted 4 weeks ago on 03-10-2020 12:40:02 pm

Cody B
You have right, need to be careful about nature.

Thomas K. - posted 4 weeks ago on 03-10-2020 12:31:41 pm

Cody B.
These people can also be understood as for me, but it’s better not to kill these animals.
denn Aufregung ist hier besser:

Joe W. - posted 1 month ago on 03-04-2020 11:39:05 am

Understood. GoHunt is a great source of information. I do think the maps could be higher quality. (if anyone is listening) but I have had successful hunts due directly to this platform. As far as our discussion, its simply that a DISCUSSION to hopefully help each of us grow as sportsmen and see things from different angles. Obviously I feel animals are on earth for us to FEED on. I like shooting trophies too. However I can hike for 10 miles, spike out for days and take a cow, doe, or scrub call buck and still be fulfilled by the experience of the entire hunt. The Hunt itself is my Trophy. Best of luck to you and yours as well in 2020!
Hunt.Kill.Eat.Be Happy!

Hello G. - posted 1 month ago on 03-04-2020 08:09:02 am
San Francisco, CA

@Joe W. You win. Gonna bow out of this discussion. Not why I use the GoHunt platform. Best of luck in 2020.

Joe W. - posted 1 month ago on 03-04-2020 03:01:53 am

Hello G your right a warden should look into me. But they should look into you as well. And every single other sportsman afield each day of the year. They should harass and pursue all of us. Because they have badges and some suit an tie dreamed up legislation to write a law “they” felt was good. Take this case apparently the “electronic” feeder was an issue. So let’s be fare now. “All electronics are now banned afield” including trail cams, radios, oh and head lamps, no more x maps, or selfies with yer prized squirrel harvest, no cellphones. This only applies to the outdoorsman NOT to law enforcement.
Hunt. Kill. Eat. Be happy.

Hello G. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 07:53:45 pm
San Francisco, CA

@ Mark T. May I suggest you might have found yourself dealing with an official who had a bad day, or maybe the officer is simply not a nice person. I don't know. But, all of these individuals are protecting the resources that you and I value so greatly. I've only been hunting a couple years. I have been blessed in that I've had great luck--elk my first elk hunt year, deer my first deer hunt, antelope my first antelope hunt, etc... Last year, around 8am on opening morning I shot another elk (I hunt hard, but I'm very lucky). I lost it. I looked. I did everything I could to find it. I didn't . It was devastating because I felt I'd taken a great shot (just 65 yards on level ground). I found it 4-days later. I left. I drove from SE Idaho to CA, logged into Idaho's game portal, marked my tag as filled (figured they'd want to know I killed an elk) and went about my business. For weeks I questioned whether I'd keep hunting. The phone rang. It was Idaho fish and game. The official, doing his job, had written down my plate number while it sat at a trailhead on a whim. Later, another hunter reported a dead elk that was not harvested. He called me. At first he was all business. I told him my story. By the end of our conversation he was encouraging me to keep hunting. He told me losing animals can happen. He gave me his number and said he'd be happy to help a new hunter if I had any questions. Last week I called him to thank you for the encouragement and that I'd just bought a new book on trailing animals in hopes of never again experiencing what I did last year. I share this story with you because bad apples rarely represent an entire group of individuals. Just the thoughts of an adult onset hunter. Good luck in 2020.

mark t. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 06:44:55 pm

I don't condone this guys actions but I'm no fan of cdfw. Treating people as guilty until proven innocent is norm for 90%of these guys. I was practically water boarded while having my bear validated a few years back. I've never dealt with one in the woods but I've had friends get tickets for stupid stuff and each time the tickets were thrown out.
Do we need them, yes. Do they need to be d#!ksheads, absolutely not.

Hello G. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 06:24:48 pm
San Francisco, CA

@Joe W. There is a difference between oversight and purposefully buying a feeder, loading the feeder, analyzing the deer coming to the feeder, picking out the trophy you want to hang on the wall and killing said trophy. With all due respect your responses reads like they are from a person a warden should look into.

Joe W. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 06:08:23 pm

You’d be more amazed if we were all FINED extensively for every single game violation we make. Seriously it’s very very difficult to get out go hunting, kill something and get it home in the freezer 100% legally without breaking a law. Have you set afield 30 min before sunrise? Or stayed afield 30 min after sunset ? Most would say yes. Did you have your weapon in a case prior to and after those times ? Ok ok. When is the last time you measured the square inches of orange you wore ? Was it over 400sq in ? Lmao. Seriously we all make mistakes and break laws it’s nearly impossible to not break a law of some sort. So let’s all donate 20,000$ and quit hunting for 3 years and volunteer community service for the wrongs we have done. Lol. Ridiculous idea right. Exactly my point.
Hunt. Kill. Eat. Be happy!

Hello G. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 05:11:00 pm
San Francisco, CA

Well said, Cody B.

Cody B. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 04:27:12 pm

Amazed at the people here defending this poacher. No where did it say he did it to feed his family. It shouldn't matter if he's 20 or 70.

Hello G. - posted 1 month ago on 03-03-2020 07:42:19 am
San Francisco, CA

Great news. Good to see our CDFW doing good work and kudos to the court for sending a message--this kind of behavior comes with consequences.

Chris D. - posted 1 month ago on 03-01-2020 04:47:59 pm

The fine is SUPPOSED to be a deterrent not a price tag

Joe W. - posted 1 month ago on 02-28-2020 11:58:55 am

I understand what your saying. The question posed was does the punishment fit the crime. In my opinion it doesn’t. It’s a deer a few hundred pounds at most half that is edible. Is it really worth 200$/pound ? No it’s not in my opinion. Hunt. Kill. Eat. Be Happy!

Franklin H. - posted 1 month ago on 02-28-2020 11:34:55 am

Greg H. This comment is in rebuttal to Joe W.’s line of thinking. I’m 65 years old. Maybe I’ll give it another 5 years, run up to the Kaibab, buy a few acres, set out my corn feeder and poach a 200” trophy mule deer. Maybe I’ll only get a small fine or maybe just a warning. I’ll make sure the deer gets eaten. Now I’m not the judge and jury to make decisions on punishment for unlawful acts of this kind. Do you understand first of all that hunting rights every year are under attack. Tens of thousands every year spend enormous amounts of hard earned money, putting in tens of years trying to secure a trophy tag enabling them the right to secure their trophy of a lifetime. When someone illegally robs that chance from the ethical sportsman, maybe the punishment fits the crime. I understand this is not a forum for fellow hunters to argue on. That’s my take.
You are a lawful hunter 100% or your not.

DALE G. - posted 1 month ago on 02-27-2020 12:02:39 pm

As a California resident I think the crime warranted the fines given I personally would like to see his hunting privileges taken away indefinitely and out of state too....but it’s great to see the wildlife office put in time and effort here in California they are massively under staffed and have to cover huge district so while it’s great one poacher was caught it makes me sad to think about all the others that got away with it.

Joe W. - posted 1 month ago on 02-27-2020 11:46:31 am

I think this is unrealistic punishment. The man is 70 saw a deer he wanted to shoot an shot it. As long as he consumed it or made sure it was consumed then so be it. A small fine or warning would have been understood for the electronic feeder. These trophy hunting fanatics have forgotten why we truly hunt and honestly forgotten the sport of hunting. It’s sadd really.

Gary H. - posted 1 month ago on 02-27-2020 10:09:32 am

They should have taken his hunting privileges for life and cut his hands off and $20,000 sounds about right but $30,000 has a better ring to it....

Know this, he has been a poacher for 50 of those 70 years.....
I read a statistic the other day that 97% of poachers are never caught. Thats scary.