Bowhunters Convicted of Using Poison Arrows, One Claims ‘Everybody’ Uses Them in Their State

Four men have been convicted for using arrows laced with a paralyzing poison during big game hunts out west following a two-year investigation by state wildlife officials.

South Carolina Sportsman reported Friday that George Plummer, 51, and Joseph Nevling 50, both of Timmonsville, S.C., Michael Courtney, 25, of Florence, S.C.,  and James Cole, 50, of Sumter, S.C., – were arrested on Sept. 7, by Colorado wildlife officials. The four admitted in court last week they used poison-laced arrows for hunting trips in Colorado, some dating back 20 years.

One of the arrows recovered during the Colorado DOW investigation. (Photo: Colorado DOW)

One of the arrows recovered during the Colorado DOW investigation. (Photo: Colorado DOW)

The four men pleaded guilty to multiple charges. The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, Col, reported those charges included illegal taking of wildlife and illegal use of toxins for hunting. Fines and court costs totaled in the thousands of dollars. Colorado also is part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact in which state wildlife agencies work together to help punish wildlife violators; the four men are banned from hunting in Colorado for four years and, therefore, also prohibited from hunting in South Carolina and 37 other states during that time.

They spent the weekend in the Colorado jail after being arrested. Wildlife officials had been watching them after they arrived on Aug. 31. They were in a camp near the Brush Creek area east of Collbran, according to the Colorado newspaper.

The men were admonished by Judge Arthur Smith during an appearance in his courtroom.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Smith told Nevling. Plummer admitted to using poison-tipped arrows for big game species including elk, bears and deer for at least 20 years.

But that’s not the only scorn the four have received. Some South Carolina hunters are upset not only with being associated by state residence with the four, but with the practice of using toxin-laced arrows. South Carolina Sportsman reported that toxin-laced arrows are not prohibited by law on private lands but are prohibited on state-owned or managed lands. A state wildlife official said the drugs used most commonly by hunters are controlled substances, however, and users must have a prescription or be in violation of laws enforced by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“I am embarrassed, dumbfounded, angry and hurt significantly by the callous disregard for wildlife and the act of fair chase,” said longtime bowhunter Ronald C. Herman Jr. of Charleston. “They are a black eye to sportsmen, hunters and specifically bowhunters worldwide and I never want them to step foot in the hunting field again with a weapon of any kind.”

Read the full story in South Carolina Sportsman about the arrest and response by Palmetto State hunters.