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They Got What They Deserved! Or Did They?

Arizona poachers Blake Owens and Thomas “TJ” Purinton have been sentenced for their unlawful, dishonest and cowardly acts of poaching and fraud. But is their punishment enough? Unfortunately, these clowns will most likely never see the inside of a jail cell and only have their hunting rights revoked for 10 years. 

I say this is complete garbage! People like these glory seeking, ego-maniacal clowns won’t stop taking from the honest and hard working hunters of Arizona. They will simply get better at poaching. They will be recidivists, mark my words. We will most likely never see their names or hear about them again but the wildlife of Arizona will and honest hunters will suffer the consequences sewn by men like Owens and “TJ” Purinton. 

It is beyond time to get tougher on criminals like Owens and Purinton. I say never hunt again, never own a firearm again, lifetime probation with electro-shock GPS chips implanted in their bodies so the authorities can monitor their every move and when they even glance at an elk or mule deer they get a jolt that reminds them of their past transgressions so violently that their eyes cross, they involuntarily vomit and once recovered from the electro therapy they never want to even hear the word “venison” or “antler” ever again. 

Obviously I’m upset about what these clowns have done. Obviously the paragraph above is vitriol. But isn’t it time that we as honest hunters demand more from our justice system for convicted poachers than monetary fines and weak suspensions of hunting privileges? Why not make the poaching of game a felony, plain and simple. No pleas, no agreements, just a straight up old fashioned felony complete with prison time, lifetime hunting and weapons bans and lifelong probation. While we are at it we could use convicted poachers as laborers for habitat improvement projects, public lands projects… you name it, make them “pay it back” in a meaningful way that benefits both the citizens they’ve stolen from and the wildlife they’ve exploited. 

I’m not talking about throwing the book at someone who has made an honest mistake and deserves some grace. I’m talking about hard nosed punishment aimed at true poachers. I mean, they shoot guys like this in Africa! 

We have labored to create the greatest publicly owned wildlife populations on the planet through the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation but if we don’t get serious about protecting it, our future generations will reap the sad and bitter fruits of our complacency. 

Rant over! What say you?

About Todd Helms

Todd Helms

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32 comments

  1. They got off easy, and I bet this doesn’t change their ways. Only will make them more secretive in their actions. Owens has already made it clear he won’t stop. And his family is no different

    • I caught a poacher in the act of shooting a whitetail 8 point buck on 16 November 2019. He shot from his truck on a Rudyard Township, Michigan seasonal road. He hit the buck on private property owned by local farmer. The deer ran about 120 yards off farmer’s land, crossed the road then fell down and expired on another persons private property. I walked up on this slug with 911 on phone, gave description of subject, vehicle info, plate, location address and my name. I disadvantaged the poacher telling him what has been done thus far and not to even think about going back to his truck.

      A short time later a Chippewa County Deputy arrived and secured the suspect’s Remington Model FOUR 30-06 that laid on his front passenger seat. Another 15 minutes and 2 DNR Conservation Officers arrived and did the investigation with suspect unable to lie about anything he confessed and gave details as to what he did.

      As normal governmental operations and procedures drug out, I heard nothing for about 2 months. Then the first deputy involved contacted me and asked if I’d write a statement of the event. I said sure and thank goodness the 911 tape of my call was used to solidify my statement. The turd suspect apparently said I had threatened him during this encounter. Long story made short… The guy apparently got off with fines and costs according to one of the investigating DNR officers I made contact with.

      I later found out this suspect worked at a prison and his spouse held a position with county government.

      I learned lesson on this poaching…. I will never get involved beyond distant reporting…. Too dangerous and a slap on the hand to poacher isn’t worth any of my stress or time.😑

  2. It’s nice to see an article on this from eastmans, granted nothing was said when Park County had a poacher a couple years ago by the name Brian Bohanon. Multiple animals taken, yet nothing from eastmans about this in their own backyard. If your gonna shame poachers shame them all.

  3. You made no mention at all about what they actually did. How about some details for those who know nothing about it?

  4. Yeah read article- what a joke- no punishment in jail just probation and community service and so small fines for taking five different animals; they are: a 4×4 200” mule deer, a 3×3 drop tine mule deer, a 6×6 mule deer, a 5×4 velvet mule deer and a bear. The wildlife-related charges are Class 1 and Class 2 misdemeanors.

  5. Until we get rid of the bullshit fines – should be $25k minimum and a yrs jail time for trophy animals like these, they will all continue to hunt out of season, with out a license, at night and on private property where they do not have permission.

    • Randolph Holford

      My point earlier. In most cases punishment does not fit the crime. Until the judicial system gets realistic and prosecuting attorneys quit allowing easy plea bargains thus will continue. When you read about people with 10 prior felony convictions committing some heinous crime it’s exasperating.

  6. Randolph Holford

    A sad sign of our times. Very light sentences or fines for serious crimes. Poaching is a crime against all outdoors enthusiasts and should be dealt with very harshly.

    I like the chip idea as well as 10 years hard labor!

  7. Well said, but our justice system is weak across the board. I agree make it a felony.

    • A felony for a deer Nah. It’s a deer. May not ever be missed. How do you give a felony for something that may never even have been known to anyone?

      • I disagree that it may never be missed. Even if that particular buck had never been seen, odds are good that his genes would have continued to generate quality bucks that would have been seen. Also, a felony (at least in my state) doesn’t allow you to own a firearm for some period of time. That can be re-evaluated by the state at some point and you can get the right back but in the meantime it allows another charge to be pressed against you if you’re caught poaching with a firearm again.

  8. I couldn’t AGREE more!

  9. Lawrence Wilson

    Tom Helms, Hey dude, I probably agree with you because I’m really very much against poacher & the lite sentancing they useually get. But next time you write an article about poaching, remember to put the pertinate facts in it. like names, dates, place, & the specifics of who did what, the charges, & last but not least the results. You left all the important stuff out.

  10. I think they should have cut their hands off….

  11. There should be restitution for how many years it takes to get an animal of this magnitude. Plus vehicles, guns seized. On top of a big fine for each proven animal taken. Loss of hunting and fishing for life through out the US. This was totally wrong…

  12. I live in Az. Been hunting 45 years. I’ve never even seen a deer the size of the one in the article. And these 2 yahoos poached it !?. Strip them down naked,tie them to a tree and leave them. The coyotes would appreciate it.

  13. Clint Blankenship

    Look up poacher in wyoming. (David Underwood) . similarly been poaching for years in surrounding states. Over 10 years and hundreds of animals taken.
    All misdemeanors? Something is not only wrong with these people, something is seriously wrong with our system.

  14. Don’t entirely agree, or disagree.
    While the 10 years without hunting is a good stretch, maybe a bit more monetary punishment is necessary along with surrendering all objects used in the commission of poaching.
    But when repeated drunk drivers are given repeated leniency, robberies and theft is a slap on the wrists and let’s not forget a rapists gets much less than what the author is wanting, our judicial system is broken and the ever called victimless crimes have become nothing more than a traffic ticket.
    The system is broke and those that are affected no longer have justice.

  15. Glad that these dirt bags were caught but sad to learn that all they were given was a slap on the wrist, IMO.

  16. Obvious, blatant disregard for game laws should be more forcefully punished. Mistakes are one thing, disregarding laws is different. Lifetime bans seem like a reasonable punishment.

  17. I am a lifelong outdoorsmen, and I am also a felon. I am no longer allowed to posses a firearm, unless my rights are somehow granted back to me. I continue to practice and hunt during archery seasons, but I also hunt game (with a bow) during rifle seasons. I help family and friends harvest game during black powder and rifle seasons. All through the winter months I like to ski among other things like climbing and hiking in the snowy months. I have never, nor will I ever, poach an animal from any state in this country or another. And that goes for the fish too. Should I be granted my 2nd Amendment Right? Does it depend on my conviction, or contextual evidence?

  18. How many animals did they get away with before they were caught? These bastards should be hung!

  19. Confiscate gun,vehicle ,and any equipment used in the crime. Jail time, pay for the animal, plus a hefty fine. They are thieves and the cost of the animal would make it a felony.

  20. I do not feel revoking their hunting privileges is even close to punishment enough. These poachers need to spend some time in jail, pay hefty fines, do some community service and lose their hunting privileges for 10 years minimum. When the penalty is not severe enough they will try again. Make the punishment fit the crime

  21. You lost me at shocking chips and lifetime probation. Yes the crime deserves way more punishment and it’s bullshit they let these two jokes walk with just a slap on the wrist, but for god sakes they didn’t murder a human. Their names are tarnished in the hunting community of Arizona and no doubt the regret their Shit decisions. Jail time should be a no brainer.

  22. His brother is on another website saying that he will guide Mt. Lion hunts to help this poacher pay it off.

  23. The whole family are known poachers and overall bad people. Blake Owens is also implicated in shooting wild horses in the area. It’s a very small rural area so this punishment isn’t going to stop them anytime soon. The brother is even offering to guide lion hunts to help pay off fees. Meanwhile that same brother has a long history of poaching passed down from the father. It’s a unfortunate cycle that isn’t going to be broken anytime soon.

  24. These guys are local to me. Did they get off easy? Yes. Is poaching worse than child molestation or abortion? No. While it’s offensive,( I haven’t drawn a deer tag in 11 years), let’s not overblow the shooting of a deer. It’s just a deer. Try not to be jealous, like Blake Owens is, of shooting big deer. You wouldn’t be upset if you weren’t jealous of shooting big deer. Fine the guy 20k, five year no hunting, and move on. There should be no jail time for first time offenders. It’s just a deer. Their dead carcasses line the highways up there.

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