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POACHING-Enough is Enough…or is it?

A Montana Poaching Case for the Ages.

The dust has finally settled on a Montana millennial who has been convicted and now charged with a very disturbing poaching binge that has resulted in a lifetime ban from hunting and fishing. But does it even matter?

A logical person might argue-probably not, due to the fact that the offender was already under a hunting and fishing suspension at the time.

Last Friday, 23-year old Branden Schuhen was ordered to pay $33,050 in fines and restitution, complete 500 hours of community service and 10 years of probation along with a lifetime ban from hunting and fishing in the state of Montana for poaching three bull elk, a buck deer, two antelope and two turkeys in one season, all while already under a temporary suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges for trespassing while hunting in Montana.

When the game and fish arrived at Schuhen’s home to interview him regarding a poaching tip they had received he was caught desperately running out the back door of his home packing two antelope skulls.

Game and Fish authorities received a tip from a party goer who had noticed three freshly caped out trophy bull elk skulls sitting in Schuhen’s garage during a party at the home outside of Billings, Montana in early October.

Three big bull elk skulls freshly caped out well before the Montana rifle season opens would certainly be suspect by anyone that regularly hunts in Montana. And the tipster’s gut feeling was correct, as the local game wardens searched Schuhen’s social media accounts only to find a pile of evidence including the three bulls, an antelope buck and two turkey kills.

A simple look up in the Montana state licensing database concluded that Schuhen was not capable of purchasing and therefore had no hunting or fishing licenses in Montana for any of the posted hunts and trophies in question-trophy greed and social media narcissism combine to get another one!

Following the initial interview Schuhen complied fully with Game and Fish officials to give detailed explanations of his acts and even went so far as to show them in person many of the kill sights along with full explanations of the deeds themselves.

In a predictable millennial, “insta-famous” move, Schuhen was disturbed that news of his criminal charges had spread through social media channels like wildfire and he’d heard from people he didn’t even know, who “let me know how little they thought of me.” Probably folks like my friend Rod who have waited nearly 17-years at a chance to draw a tag and hunt a bull elk in this very limited trophy elk area.

Mr. Schuhen will not be allowed to hunt or fish in 45 states (soon to be 49) ever again, but is that penalty enough? The original charges carried a fine of up to $250,000, 25 years in prison and a lifetime forfeiture of hunting and fishing rights. The conviction ended up being no jail time, and a significantly reduced fine, by 88%. He was suspended from hunting and fishing when these crimes were acted on. And to top it all off Kevin Schuhen was working as a guide in Montana at the time. He has since moved to another state, probably one not in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Hello Hawaii.

One question still remains after this egregious poaching case, are we doing enough about poaching in this country?

-Guy Eastman

 

https://www.boone-crockett.org/about/poach&pay.asp

 

 

 

 

About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief
Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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40 comments

  1. Absolutely should have done time and been penalized with the full fine allowed. The only real punishment I agree with is the lifetime ban on hunting and fishing, but if he’s already poaching he’s likely to continue unless real jail/prison time is imposed. I’m shocked that a state with so many resident hunters and non-resident destination hunters would let him off so easy. Especially since he was a guide!

    • The guy who committed the crimes was Branden Schuhen. The guy who was working as the guide was Kevin Schuhen. I couldn’t find in the article how the two are related, but they’re not the same guy.

      • I totally missed that! Thanks for the correction!

      • I think it’s the same guy. A quick internet search shows that it is Branden K. Schuhen. I’m guessing that his middle name is Kevin? I couldn’t find anything but this article for Kevin Schuhen.

  2. All too often the poachers are getting off way too easy and plea agreements water down the seriousness of the crime. The Waters case where offenses occurred in Colorado and Iowa over a ten year period got Mr Waters a room at the Yankton, SD lockup for five years. Never heard whether or not he got an early release.

  3. Phillip Mehrtens

    Lock the piece of trash up jail! He’s a thief no different than any other that steals! It’s a damn shame! The sad thing is that he will do it again ! Poachers never stop once they start!

  4. My thoughts are this. Why didn’t, or better yet, why don’t these poaching violators ever get the maximum sentence? Do the judges let them slide? Or are they tried before a jury of their peers? If a judge lets them off without the maximum sentence, my thoughts are, that if that person goes out and commits another crime, whether it be a game violation or a crime against a person. The sentencing judge should be held responsible, and should do the time, and pay the fines. That would put a stop to this B.S. !!! Because by the time that violator got out of prison, the said judges term would most likely be up! It’s human nature! If a criminal gets away with a crime, he or she, continues to commit more crimes, until they are incarcerated for a very long time, or shot! I personally prefer the later! Just my thoughts.

  5. Maybe I missed it, but how are Branden Schuhen and Kevin Schuhen related? Branden committed the crimes, but Kevin was working as the guide.

  6. Obviously this individual is a screw up and can’t help himself ,this is his drug he will be in prison soon.

  7. First of all, I agree with the sentence. Since he was already suspended, he doesn’t have respect for the law and for the rules that we as a society, in this case hunting, that 99% of us follow. I will bet he has done this many other times prior. That you to the person that was bold enough to turn him in.
    I’m sure many of us know of someone we suspect would do this and they don’t deserve the privilege of hunting and fishing. I would love the opportunity to just see 3 trophy bull elk let alone shoot just one in my lifetime.
    Thank you,
    Scott Sprecher

  8. Jail time is avoided by pleading guilty and saving the court the time and trouble of going to trial. 500 hours community service, $32,000 fine, ten years probation life time ban on hunting and fishing is adequate for this moronic 23 year old.

  9. This guy is an absolute menace to society. No one will agree , but this is a sociopath looking for attention, and used bloodlust for animals to satisfy himself. The next time it will be human blood. Don’t kid yourself people, there is an empty stare in this type of human that matches Gilmore, Bundy, and Manson.
    That judge is a typical from the west coast , letting human trash roam until they commit the ultimate crime. For those that say “No”, this guy is only 23, to be this bold, and with bravado like this, it’s only time until he graduates to something darker.

  10. Jail time is needed! No matter what the plea is for that many animals!

  11. I may be out of line but I live in nm and I try my best to draw and play by the book. I wait and really can’t afford out of state tags and to hear of people doing this make me mad it’s basically what gives hunters the bad name what fuels peta and what makes trying to get permission on private land pretty much impossible now. In my opinion lifetime ban on hunting yea sounds great but he wasn’t fallowing the rules any way he probly will hunt without a tag out of season again. I feel like the fine should have been more and jail time he took from evryone that plays by the rules.

  12. I think FWP in several states are failing!!
    As a lifelong sportsman I feel these penalties should be upheld to the maximum. The only deterrent is hitting the pocketbook and their freedom. Then maybe the message will be heard loud and clear…

  13. I hear alot of negative comments, here so this is my point on it he caused his own grief sounds like it started with a trespass I’m not the judge or the jury if Montana handed down his charge and sentenced him to fines and loss of hunting for life in Montana for his crimes I hope he has learned a lesson and if not he will find himself back in the hot water…but as it states in the Bible forgive 7×77 ect won’t go in to depth we all sin and don’t try to pluck out the sliver in your brother’s eye when you have a board in your own forgiveness is key as Hunter’s and sportsman and women of the sport we try to keep it clean and fair in the field some are greedy and want it all, and it’s sad when the evil one causes there sin and our own sin we are not the judge.. all Glory to our Lord and savior..

  14. Hang him.

  15. For all of us who play by the rules with a mind towards conservation and a fair chance to earn a story to share with our hunting brothers, this guy is the absolute worst, as far as I’m concerned he has committed a crime against all of us, the penalty should be higher he should do jail time and lose his firearms privileges after all he committed a crime with a gun. I say throw away the key because he is never going to stop being a poacher.

  16. No lesson will be learned without jail time. He will be back at it in a few years. The fine was not enough but he would not pay it any way.
    Doug Nelson

  17. Obviously we are not doing enough to eradicate poaching. However it seems more and more people just don’t respect anything. Barring starvation how does someone get to the point that they feel it’s their right to take an animal illegally let alone a guide. Poaching fines should be severe and go to enhance the herds they adversely affect not the states general fund. Community service should be significant and to the benefit of the herds a poacher adversely affects not something completely unrelated. And we should develop jail-work crews for poaching crimes to benefit all outdoorsmen. And most of all we should not negotiate established penalties away because some attorney thinks we should go easy on some dude as a plea bargain or “deal”. Find the money to prosecute…..and prosecute this guy to the fullest extent of the law.

  18. It is good to see when you do the crime you have to pay. It’s sad when ones that do illegal acts against wildlife get off with a slap on the wrist. This guy got what he deserved not like a Outfitter in the Mussellshell county in Montana that got off with a little slap on the wrist when he should have lost his license for all the illegal crap he pulled. I’m hoping that sooner than later that when these individuals go to court that a judge will quit being so easy on them. Then maybe ones that poach would think before acting.

  19. Time in prison is too good for him. 100 days per year of habitat restoration, manual labor x 10 years.

    Make every hunter that buys a license agree to those terms. You buy a license today, you accept that if you ever poach you may be subject to manual labor penalty to restore habitat for a time determined by the game board. Don’t agree, don’t hunt. After all it is a privilege.

  20. Guys pay more per elk for the CHANCE at shooting a trophy bull than he paid for poaching. He should’ve had to pay much more and served jail time. What this says to the public and sportsman is if caught it will only cost you the going rate and no jail time. Wtf. It’s disturbing the judge in Montana was so lenient on a repeat offender. Ironically a lifetime ban doesn’t mean anything to a poacher. They will just keep poaching especially when they don’t even get sent to jail. It’s beyond troubling to me.

  21. My personal opinion on these extreme cases of poaching, are this. He was already breaking the law, so blatant disrespect for law and animals is obvious. Loss of hunting privileges for life is a start. But the jail time should have been handed down like this, the guilty party should have to show up the day before the first of any type of game season opening and stay until the day after the last of any season has closed. That way not only can they not legally hunt, they can’t even enjoy the commraderie of being around hunting. This would take them out of the outdoors at the best time of year that true sportspersons enjoy.

  22. No JAIL TIME, REDUCED FINE. What is the message or precedent being shown? Scratching my head!!!!

  23. Poachers are always getting off without jail time, maybe if they start getting jail time, they won’t poach anymore!

  24. Obviously we need more strict poaching laws in all states. The man is a thief. The lowest form of life. A judge in my rural county refuses to hear poaching cases! We need a new judge. Seems, in some peoples minds, poaching is just a good ol boy activity. As hunters we need to educate the general public on our expected and actual behavior in the field. Lead by example and use any opportunity to educate non hunters in a reasoned and friendly manner.

  25. I’d rather see a few years in jail, maxed out fine and a 20 year ban on hunting. That way if he learns anything he will be able to hunt later in life. If he doesn’t learn anything, then the hunting ban won’t make a difference anyway since he already hunts without a license/tags.

  26. An old saying of life “; Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”. This Is what you see here. Being he has been raping our land of hunting opportunity’s ,then maybe some time in prison would allow others the opportunity to pray on him.

  27. He should have been sentenced to prison

  28. Should have done some time in jail, full fines and never hunt or fish again!

  29. One has to wonder why he was left with any weapons. Seems like I read somewhere quite a while ago the game wardens/state could confiscate your vehicle, weapons, fishing gear, boat, etc. depending upon what they caught you doing. I’m thinking he should be put on a “no purchase” list if he tries to buy a weapon legally. Hard to say what would happen if he borrowed a weapon from a friend and did it again. That’s why there are so many lawyers out there…to figure out stuff like that.

    The bottom line is I agree with most of the entries here that he got off lighter than he should have. Five hundred hours sounds like a lot but I knew a guy that had community service as his penalty but he would pay co-workers to cover for him because he had other things to do. This guy might not even do his 500 hours.

  30. I would guess not many poachers care what punishment they get. Only way to keep them from repeating their crimes is to lock them up. Since he moved, how is he going to complete his community service hours ? I see a bench warrant coming or a repeat criminal in another state.

  31. I’ve NEVER had the opportunity to hunt the elk; came close, but no permit. Would LOVE to have this “sportsman” knock on my door to explain his behavior.

  32. Does this punishment meet the crime? Well, if the judge that ” we the people ” voted into office sentenced him too, than yes! Here is some food for thought. If these “game animals” I.E. elk deer antelope moose sheep goat and so on are owned by the state and managed by we hunters by paying money to the state, then why is it when you have a vehicle v’s state owned game animal the owner of the vehicle invold insurance company foots the bill!? Or if you own property and the ” states” game animals consumes or destroys crops and or property in some way it takes an act of god to get the state to pay for it, if you are lucky that is!?? Or if you look at this as thses are our game animals then, where is our reinburstment for all our animals that are killed by vehicle? I work for a railroad and i know 1st hand the distruction it has on game animals, from small hunting birds to huge moose! Who is responsible for the demise of those animals?? Let me be clear, do i think poachers need to be stopped, yes but, I red above in a previous comment someone wrote ” hang em”! Really? Well i guess the person that hits a deer had better not have been found to be speeding or been distracted by thier phone or radio. Maybe the railroad should start paying back the state for all the animals massacred by the trains, or spend millions of dollars building high fences. But if these are our animals then I guess the state should be paying us for our loss. I know, I opened Pandora’s Box with these off-the-wall questions and ideas 🤷‍♂️

  33. I watched a show on T.V.. Montana Fish n Game caught a couple on tape, shooting from a dirt road, shooting on to private party, wounding 2 and killing 1 elk while hunting in the wrong unit. I was angry, then the game officer just wrote 1 ticket for $500ish. I became more angry. I’m angry now with this story! I can’t afford a great guided elk hunt. I apply, study, save and work at making my dreams come true with a elk picture and am out done by poachers; wait, am I out done by Montana Fish n Game? I’ve felt like a friend meeting Fish n Game, I’ve felt baited, uncomfortable and awkward. I do everything I know to be right and have to pay to do it and it’s hard financially. Western States are robbing the good and allowing the wrong!
    Somebody stand up!!!
    Eastmans vocal up without a questionnaire!
    The Question Western States should prepare for is,
    Big Game Hunting, Pay or Poach?!!!!!
    You do the math.

  34. Not sure what him being a millennial has anything to do with this. Probably should have mentioned that he was probably raised by baby boomers.

    It seems this article was trying to make a point to bash on a particular generation.

    The poaching incident is horrible, but how about you simply report the issue instead of editorializing to try and get more comments and website clicks.

  35. I work in law enforcement and feel just like all of you but this is the way of the legal system, the judges can impose the maximum but often don’t do it. I feel this is great work on behalf of Fish and Game they should be praised for this. Remember as law enforcement we are bound by certain laws set forth we cannot give out the penalties, I assure you they would be much much stiffer if law enforcement could .

    • You Hit the nail on the head KJ , I have friends that are game wardens and work for game and fish , your guy’s hands are tied and you can only do so much ! It is the legal system

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