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PA hunter posts illegal killing of a recordbook buck on Facebook and gets his just de

Old 03-29-2023, 05:03 AM
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Default PA hunter posts illegal killing of a recordbook buck on Facebook and gets his just de

There were supposed to be photos of the deer where the magnifying glass and the plus sign are in the text but the pictures did not post.
Gordonville man to pay $6,000 for illegal deer kill after posting online

P.J. REILLY

[email protected]

A Gordonville man has pleaded guilty to illegally killing a large buck over bait in Chester County last fall.

And until Monday evening, you could watch the video on You-Tube.

Eli Matthew Stoltzfus, 28, of Leacock Township, pleaded guilty to summary offenses related to killing the deer, which resulted in nearly $6,000 in fines, forfeiting the trophy antlers and losing his hunting privileges in Pennsylvania for the next two years.

None of that is terribly unusual in resolving a case in which a hunter illegally kills a deer over bait in Pennsylvania, according to Greg Graham, the Pennsylvania Game Commission warden covering eastern Lancaster County.

What is unusual, Graham said, is that wildlife officers solved the case because Stoltzfus videotaped the entire hunt for the trophy deer and then posted it on You-Tube.



“I’ve had cases before where pictures on social media led to

An image taken from a YouTube video shows Eli Matthew Stoltzfus, 28, of Leacock Township, who pleaded guilty to summary offenses related to illegally killing a deer over bait in Chester County.

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Hunter: Fined for illegally taking a deer over bait in Chester County

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prosecutions, but I’ve never had one where the whole incident was captured on video and then put on social media for everyone to see,” he said.

Stoltzfus admitted to illegally killing the deer. He first told a reporter he planned to keep the video online, though it was made private Monday evening.

“At this point, it’s all I have to remember the deer by,” he said.

Legal bait

Stoltzfus shot the trophy-class, 12-point buck with his bow near West Chester on Nov. 16 after pouring corn on the ground, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Putting out bait for hunting deer is illegal everywhere in Pennsylvania except in the counties of Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks and Philadelphia.

The Game Commission allows baiting there because deer numbers are high and hunting access is limited. Baiting allows hunters to lure deer to the areas where they have access.

But there are a slew of regulations that control when and how hunters can use bait in those specific counties.

According to the Game Commission’s rules, legal bait is limited to shelled corn and protein pellets, and no more than 5 gallons of feed can be on the ground at one time.

Also, bait must be dispensed by a mechanical feeder set to deliver feed no more than three times per day, only during legal hunting hours.

Stoltzfus used corn as bait Nov. 16, but he placed it there and did not use a mechanical feeder, according to Graham. “I knew you could bait in Chester (County), but I didn’t know all the other rules,” Stoltzfus said, when contacted by a reporter March 24.

He said he did not want to discuss the incident, but he did answer a few questions.

Viral video

Stoltzfus filmed his hunt for the deer Nov. 16, and its recovery the next day, and posted an edited video on YouTube on Dec. 4 on his channel called “Struttin_n_more_ outdoors.”

The video is titled “(The Hunt for FL) 157” S.E. Pennsylvania whitetail archery buck. Biggest buck of my life.”

The video was made private once this story was posted to LancasterOnline. com. Within a few days after the video was posted, it had attracted thousands of views. Several viewers posted comments questioning the legality of the hunt.

The video shows Stoltzfus in his tree stand as the big buck walks through a field toward his position.

The buck puts its head down in some grass where a large ring of corn is visible.

As the buck is standing in the corn ring, Stoltzfus shoots it with his bow. An excited Stoltzfus calls someone from his stand to report his shot.

The video is edited to cut after Stoltzfus decides to leave the buck overnight and pick up the trail the next day.

It resumes the next day as he takes up the trail, and quickly concludes with him tagging the buck and posing for photos.

This reporter watched the video on Dec. 8, after it was recommended by YouTube.

From this reporter’s work covering hunting and the Game Commission for LNP | LancasterOnline for the past three decades, and from hunting deer in Chester County, this reporter is well-versed in the rules regarding baiting deer there.

Watching the video, this reporter felt certain there was no feeder used to dispense the corn, and so

I knew you could bait in Chester (County), but I didn’t know all the other rules.

this reporter emailed the Game Commission.

This reporter wanted to know if the agency was aware of the video; if it did show an illegal kill; and if so, if the agency was investigating.

According to Graham, this reporter’s report was the first the Game Commission received about the video. The agency was not previously aware of it, as it had only been published for four days at that point.

Within a few days after this reporter’s email was received by the Game Commission, Graham said several other people contacted the agency to report the Stoltzfus video as well.

Armed with the video, Graham said he and a team began investigating.

The investigation

In the video, investigators spotted a van with a unique logo that they traced to a retirement community outside West Chester.

A driver there, who recognized scenery in the video, steered authorities to the property where Stoltzfus shot the deer.

Graham said officers found Stoltzfus’ tree stand, the bait site and the recovery site, and collected deer hair from both locations.

Graham then went to a taxidermist near Gordonville and asked to see the man’s customer records.

“I didn’t know if (Stoltzfus) had taken the deer there, but it’s close to where he lives, so I figured

it was worth a shot,” he said.

In a hand-written book, Graham saw Stoltzfus’ information.

He said the taxidermist reported there were rumors circulating that the deer had been illegally killed.

According to Graham, the taxidermist reported he had sent the buck’s hide out to be tanned — a process that preserves the hide before the head is mounted — and had given the antlers back to Stoltzfus to keep until the hide was returned.

On Dec. 22, Graham and a team of officers served a search warrant at Stoltzfus’ home, where they recovered the buck’s antlers and some venison.

During their visit, Graham said Stoltzfus admitted to killing the deer. He also told officers he knew baiting was legal, but he didn’t know the rules about how to bait legally.

Some time around Dec. 16 or 17, the Stoltzfus video was removed from YouTube.

On Dec. 25, it was back, with a pinned comment at the top from “Struttin_n_more_outdoors.”

“To whom it may concern.. yes I hunted over corn, no, I didn’t know I needed to have in a feeder, until I posted the video and seen your comments coming in, also I talked to the wardens about it, very great guys, we had a good conversation very down to earth people, so I want to thank everyone that called in and give me the opportunity to meet the wardens, just wondering, what was your end game in that,” the post states.

“You have nothing better to do but watch videos, report everything you see and become a Karen of the woods? I don’t mind at all if that’s what your into, this video will stay up as a reminder to me, it was not my intention to harvest this buck illegally in anyway that’s not how I was brought up, we are all humans, we make mistakes and learn from it, thanks to everyone for following along, hope yall have a great holiday.”

Stoltzfus said he took the video down briefly after he “got freaked out,” by all the comments claiming the hunt was illegal.

But then he put it back after the Game Commission visited his house and took the antlers, because he said the video was all he had to remind him of the hunt.

Trophy donated

Stoltzfus was charged Jan. 7 with hunting over bait and possessing an unlawful deer. He pleaded guilty to those charges Jan. 26.

The heftiest fine Stoltzfus was levied was $5,000 for illegally killing a “trophy” deer.

Graham said that penalty is assessed by the Game Commission whenever a buck’s antlers measure more than 115 inches. A buck with antlers less than that score carries a fine of $800.

Graham said he never had the antlers of the Stoltzfus buck officially measured, “but they’re clearly over 115 inches.”

Now that the case is closed, Graham said the antlers will be given to Game Commission educators at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area Visitors Center to use whenever groups come through for educational programs.

As of March 24, the video of Stoltzfus illegally killing the trophy buck over bait had amassed over 25,000 views.

Nowhere in the video description or comments was it stated that Stoltzfus was prosecuted for the hunt, or that the deer was seized by the Game Commission.

Graham said he wished that was mentioned somewhere, but noted, “we can’t tell (Stoltzfus) what to say or to take it down.”

When asked if he thinks it’s right to leave up a video of an illegal hunt, Stoltzfus said he doesn’t care.

“Whatever people are going to think, I really don’t care what they think,” he said.

— Eli Matthew Stoltzfus
An image taken from a YouTube video shows a whitetail buck eating bait before being killed by Eli Matthew Stoltzfus, 28, of Leacock Township.

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Old 03-29-2023, 06:27 AM
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Just curious but did I catch this right? Its legal to bait as long as the corn is in the feeder? That seems kind of odd. In my humbled opinion either have it legal to bait or not so as not to muddy the waters.
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Old 03-29-2023, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by kellyguinn
Just curious but did I catch this right? Its legal to bait as long as the corn is in the feeder? That seems kind of odd. In my humbled opinion either have it legal to bait or not so as not to muddy the waters.
Only in a few high population counties in the eastern part of the state close to Philadelphia. The population is way too large and people will not allow hunting even though they have enough land to safely do so. The PGC had 3 choices, ignore the damage and complaints, bring in sharp shooters who would still need permission to shoot the deer from property owners or allow baiting in a limited manner. It is especially important to reduce that population now that we have DWD our state. Make no mistake about it, the guy who got caught illegally applying bait knew the law regardless of the garbage he is selling. He got caught and he is not man enough to admit his actions were intentional, not a misunderstanding. The rules for applying bait in that area ogf the stste are clearly spelled out in the hunting digest that comes with every hunting license. I wish the photos would have attached to my post, it is one heck of a high wide buck and had he taken it legally, he would have had something he could have been proud of. Instead he got a 6 thousand dollar fine and reolacement costs and nothing to show for it but a video of himself killing that buck illegally and a bad reputation and a licence revocation for 2 years. If you go on YouTube you could probably find the pictures.
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Old 03-29-2023, 09:15 AM
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Rules are rules and I get that but what is the benefit of using a spin feeder over just placing on the ground? I'm definitely not siding with the hunter as if the laws are in place then follow them until you can get them changed.
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Old 03-29-2023, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by kellyguinn
Rules are rules and I get that but what is the benefit of using a spin feeder over just placing on the ground? I'm definitely not siding with the hunter as if the laws are in place then follow them until you can get them changed.
They required the spin feeder so people don't dump a couple of bushels of grain on the ground casusinglarge numbers of deer to congregate. Timed feeders that just drop a small amount of food on the ground during hunting hours is better. That waym there are not a lot of deer on a pile of bait for long periods of time. The deer get used to hearing the feeder and associate the noise with the feed and come to the feeder. They clean up the feed and leave till they hear it again, It also is better at putting the deer before the gun because smart hunters will be in the stand before the feeder goes off. The whole point of allowing the bait is to reduce the deer population. The counties involved also have unlimited doe licenses until the allocation for that county runs out. It is all about reducing deer numbers, not sport hunting. I know the principle works, I never have hunted deer over bait and never would but I hunt hogs over bait and I know when the feeder goes off I will soon be seeing hogs
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Old 03-29-2023, 04:32 PM
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I agree seems kinda silly the way it's stated. You can only put out five gallons at a time and only through a mechanical feeder. I had a feeder for years on farm I hunted and set it to run during the day. The deer never ran to it when it went off. Plus when they did arrive the number would vary from one or two deer to up to ten at a time . Plus I could have set it to run for a long time and put out a lot of corn if I wanted too . Seems no different than putting out corn the same time each day when you go to hunt the stand . What a jacked up set of rules. But like Kelly said it is the law no matter how silly it seems you need to know and follow it .
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Old 03-30-2023, 04:05 PM
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Having hunted whitetail and hogs both with mechanical feeders in the mix (Texas) I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that hogs and whitetail do NOT respond the same all the time to a feeder going off. Not very often at all actually. Hogs are by far smarter than whitetail. They associate sounds to food and process that way more intelligently than whitetail. Whitetail are pretty stupid when it come right down to association of things. Instincts, they are beyond question. But when it comes to actual intelligence, they are dumb as posts. All that was said to say this, as usual, PA gc gets it wrong yet again. If there are deer within range of smelling a bait pile or hearing a feeder go off, they will all congregate to either one. Plain and simple. There is no actual reason other than ignorance of whitetail behavior to have them put corn in a mechanical feeders. Wild whitetail act much differently than the farm raised whitetail these so called "experts" of the PA gc must have been looking at to come to these conclusions. I've seen whitetail actually spook at a feeder going off and the feeder had been there for weeks.

Don't get me wrong, the guy was hunting illegally over bait. Plain and simple. It's just a poorly thought out regulation. When we lived in PA, the old man would always take us to the special regs counties and we never had problems finding places to hunt. I'm sure that has changed a lot since that was over 20 years ago. Is it still shotgun only? They could get a pretty good reduction if they would open it up to rifle. Maybe straight-wall cartridges. The range reason they give is total crap and anyone that uses modern muzzle loaders and modern rifled shotgun can attest to it. Open up Sunday hunting. Many other ways to do a herd reduction using hunters. I know in the past, we never had trouble coming back with a truck load of meat from a full day of hunting in the spec, regs areas.
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