Bluegrass Bunglers Pinched, Penalized for Poaching

Video may have killed the radio star, but hubris and television helped put two Kentucky men under the investigative eye of the Wyoming Game and Fish Division.

Ricky J. Mills and Jimmy G. Duncan, both of Bedford, Ky., pled no contest to charges of poaching and other wildlife violations following an extensive investigation by Wyoming GFD officials. The two filmed themselves in 2014 hunting elk for their outdoors television show, “Hunting in the Sticks.” Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources also contributed with the investigation.

Jimmy Duncan, left, and Ricky Mills

Jimmy Duncan, left, and Ricky Mills

Here is the press release from the Wyoming GFD:

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recently closed a poaching case in Converse County Circuit Court.  On March 13, 2017, Ricky J. Mills, 37, and Jimmy G. Duncan, 25 pled no contest to numerous wildlife violations totaling more than $30,000 in fines. Mills and Duncan are from Bedford, Kentucky.

The case started with a tip from a concerned Wyoming citizen who watched the two defendants on a hunting show called “Hunting in the Sticks” that aired on national television. In the episode “Western Redemption,” Mills and Duncan are seen harvesting two bull elk in Wyoming. The concerned citizen noticed that the area they claimed to have killed their elk, did not match the area of their licenses.

An investigator from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Investigative Unit and Douglas Game Warden Rod Lebert opened the case and began an exhaustive search for the kill sites north of Douglas in the Cow Creek Buttes and Miller Hills areas. When the first kill site was located, they collected evidence and a solid case was built against the poachers.

“This case could not have been made without the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources agents,” said Mike Ehlebracht, investigative supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish. “Through search warrants and interviews we were able to make a case and both men confessed.”

At the conclusion of the investigation, it was determined that in 2014 while deer hunting in Deer Hunt Area 10 in northern Converse County, Mills and Duncan each killed a mature bull elk on private property. Both men also had elk licenses that same year, but the licenses were valid for Elk Hunt Area 51, which is in extreme northwest Wyoming bordering Yellowstone National Park, not for Elk Hunt Area 113 where they shot the elk. Elk Hunt Area 113 is a highly coveted hunt area with very few licenses. In this hunt area, bulls are only allowed to be harvested every other year.

It was also discovered that the two defendants attempted to do the same thing in 2013. Other evidence showed that Duncan harvested an antelope buck in September 2013 without a license. The two were also charged with waste of big game animals in connection with the two illegally harvested elk, along with a small game violation.

Ricky Mills was sentenced to pay $7,460 in fines, $6,000 in restitution for the bull elk he killed, $240 in court costs and lost his hunting privileges for 15 years. Mills will be entered into the Wildlife Violator Compact which will prevent him from hunting and trapping in 43 participating states.

Jimmy Duncan was sentenced to pay $7,500 in fines, $6,000 in restitution for the bull elk he killed, $4,000 in restitution for the antelope in 2013 and $240 in court costs. He was also suspended for 15 years from hunting and trapping and will be entered into the Wildlife Violator Compact. The elk mounts from both Duncan and Mills were forfeited to the Game and Fish.

“I believe the two defendants were driven to get kill shot footage for the television show and that resulted in their making bad decisions,” added Ehlebracht.