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I like to hunt, and I like to fish, and I like to do them in good conscience. This means, first and foremost, that I do my best to obey the rule of law, toe the line in the interests of, among other things, preserving the resource. As a hunter and fisherman, I want people to think well of me. I bristle at stereotypes, I wince at photos of 300 pound rednecks on ATVs proudly holding up forkhorns they shot under a jacklight. Aware of the public relations disaster that is too often the image of hunters viz the city folk, I dig it when the bad guys get their comeuppance. I should be pleased, then, to see a few more ne’er-do-wells taken off the playing field in Montana. Charges were recently filed in state district court against James Reed (Rexberg, Idaho), Blake Trangmoe (Glendive) and John Lewton (Whitehall). Lewton received the majority of the charges, including felony unlawful sale of a game animal, felony unlawful possession of a game animal, two misdemeanor counts of hunting without landowner permission, and a misdemeanor count of outfitting without a license. Indeed, I should be pleased to see these guys caught. But...

Big Horn Sheep Killing: A Betrayal of Trust

I like to hunt, and I like to fish, and I like to do them in good conscience. This means, first and foremost, that I do my best to obey the rule of law, toe the line in the interests of, among other things, preserving the resource. As a hunter and fisherman, I want people to think well of me. I bristle at stereotypes, I wince at photos of 300 pound rednecks on ATVs proudly holding up forkhorns they shot under a jacklight. Aware of the public relations disaster that is too often the image of hunters viz the city folk, I dig it when the bad guys get their comeuppance.

I should be pleased, then, to see a few more ne’er-do-wells taken off the playing field in Montana.

Charges were recently filed in state district court against James Reed (Rexberg, Idaho), Blake Trangmoe (Glendive) and John Lewton (Whitehall). Lewton received the majority of the charges, including felony unlawful sale of a game animal, felony unlawful possession of a game animal, two misdemeanor counts of hunting without landowner permission, and a misdemeanor count of outfitting without a license.

Indeed, I should be pleased to see these guys caught. But…

Lewton and his buddies were arrested in an undercover sting operation during which an agent for Montana’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks shot and killed a bighorn sheep that scored over 204 points, Boone and Crockett. A new state record. According to recently released court documents, the undercover agent approached Lewton saying he had a bighorn sheep tag for Hunting District 680 (Montana’s Missouri River Breaks). Lewton scouted from an airplane on the agent’s behalf, used walkie-talkies during the hunt (both potentially illegal activities for which he wasn’t charged), and then, with the agent in tow, crossed private ground without permission prior to showing the agent the animal. The accused watched while the agent shot the sheep.

According to court documents, the investigation began in 2005, and was seeded in the fact that Lewton was “with a number of bighorn sheep tag holders in Montana during the last 10 to 15 years when they were hunting for bighorn sheep.” His continued proximity presumably helped arouse suspicion that he was outfitting without a license. The agent, identified in court documents only as J. G., first approached Lewton on July 29, 2008. Lewton specifically told J. G. he could not charge for helping him as Lewton was not an outfitter. He went on to say that he would be scouting and flying the area for another hunter, and could do the same for J. G. for $1,000. By my reading of the court documents, these are the only monies Lewton received prior to the shooting of the sheep.

Again according to court documents, during the hunt the men passed through a small piece of private property conspicuously marked no trespassing. Lewton asked the agent if he minded trespassing and the agent responded that he did not.

The first day of the hunt, agent J. G., shot at the ram and purposefully missed. The next day, September 19, with radio guidance by Lewton and his two companions, J. G. shot at the ram and purposefully missed again. They pursued the ram further. The ram was then “chased with two others into a steep-sided coulee.” According to documents, “It was clear that J. G. must shoot the ram, which was now in close proximity to the hunters, or reveal his true identity.”

After the hunt (in October), Lewton bought the ram from the agent for $5,000.

The prosecution, by my read, hinges on two elements. The first and apparently least in question, that Lewton (and the investigating officer) crossed private ground to reach the animal. The second, that Lewton accepted $1,000 for scouting and flying the territory. It’s questionable, to my mind, if this last constitutes “outfitting,” but he apparently did accept payment. The crossing of private ground prior to taking an animal, however, is illegal, which in turn would seem to make the taking of the animal itself illegal, leading to the other charges (unlawful possession, etc.) Given that the agent J. G. agreed to cross the private ground, he participated in the crime.

The court documents do not address the tag itself, mentioning only that the undercover agent approached Lewton saying he had a tag for district 680. Given that the chances of legitimately drawing a tag are miniscule (typically under 2 percent), it seems likely that the agent was either given a tag outside the traditional channels (depriving a Montana hunter of his own tag) or was using a fraudulent tag.

I don’t know Lewton and his cohorts, nor am I privy to all the circumstances behind the sting. (Jim Kropp, Chief of Law Enforcement for the FWP, when approached for comment, didn’t feel, and quite appropriately so, that it would be in good conscience to discuss the matter pre-trial.) It may be that Lewton has a history of wrongdoing such that the FWP wanted to prosecute him by any means possible – the equivalent of sending Al Capone up on tax evasion. But even if there are extenuating circumstances, as a sportsman in Montana, I find myself offended. As a hunter and conservationist, and according to the information I have available, I must say that the greatest wrongdoing here wasn’t committed by the folks who are being charged.

Every year, a Montana “governor’s sheep permit” is sold at auction during a banquet held by the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep. The permit holder is given statewide access to Montana’s bighorns. The funds generated by these auctions are earmarked for species conservation and management. This tag, given the quality of Montana’s trophy sheep hunting, regularly goes for more than $200,000. These are monies that benefit the animals, not to mention the thousands of Montana hunters who annually apply by lottery for their own sheep tag, rolling the dice for a chance at one of these huge rams. The governor’s permit for this coming fall sold for $245,000. If this year’s permit holder kills a ram that exceeds 190 points he will no doubt consider himself lucky indeed. And a 200 point ram? Among avid sheephunters, this is the equivalent of a four minute mile, it’s like winning a big election, it’s like playing the slots in Vegas and seeing the machine come up sevens. The sirens go off, the balloons come down.

To remove the emotional element (I won’t talk about the hordes of local hunters who would have given a pinky toe for even a chance at this animal), and just by crass calculation, this sting operation cost the state of Montana, and by extension our population of bighorn sheep, tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars. Given the money that goes into these auctioned permits, the sheep in any given area are typically scouted well before hand. The largest rams are usually known by nickname. Photos of the rams often circulate at FNAWS (Foundation for Northern American Wild Sheep), helping drive up the price of the governor’s tag at auction. If it was known that a new state record was in a given area, the tag would certainly be worth an additional . . . what, twenty-five thousand dollars? Fifty thousand? Perhaps more.

Not to diminish the crimes of Lewton and his buddies (if guilty, they should certainly be prosecuted), but by intentionally removing a significant amount of money from the state’s conservation coffers, I would argue that Montana’s FWP has stepped outside its own charter, has contradicted its own raison d’etre. They are an agency who “provides for the stewardship of the fish, wildlife, parks, and recreational resources of Montana.” By taking the largest ram from a population that has added millions of dollars to regional conservation based only on its reputation for large rams, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume they have damaged the state’s ability to manage its population of bighorn sheep. It’s hard to see how this falls under the aegis of “stewardship.” Any crimes committed or potentially committed by the guy from Whitehall would have to be serious indeed to warrant this kind of draconian enforcement.

Furthermore, I’ve always been vaguely uncomfortable with certain aspects of Montana’s undercover sting operations. On one side, there are those stings wherein game wardens place a dummy (often animatronic) game animal next to a road and then watch to see who pulls over and shoots it. It’s the equivalent of a speed trap, and nicely sifts the bad minnows from our pond. But too often the agents participate in the crime itself, as they did in this case. Soliciting potential criminals, creating a scenario such that the suspect is actively encouraged to commit a crime (allowing peer influence and cajoling to come into play, which surely rigs the board a bit), and then the undercover agent himself pulls the trigger, playing out the scenario to a believable (if, to my mind, immoral) end. I would use the word entrapment, but I’m not sure the courts would agree. Instead, I’ll just make the point that the issue is one of moral authority, and the lack of it. This might sound like a small point, but I consider it significant indeed. You have caught a criminal, but at what cost?

Consider: Implicit within this sheep scenario is the notion that the field agent is, himself, beyond the law. If I work for the Fish, Wildlife & Parks, I can apparently commit any fish and game crime I want so long as I’m doing it in order to position someone else for prosecution. I’ll commit a greater crime (taking an illegal ram) and then charge you for a lesser crime. No one should be above the law. No one should be beyond a certain kind of accountability.

But the most troublesome aspect of this scenario isn’t the financial loss, nor is it necessarily the specific wrongdoing committed by agent J. G., it’s the fact that a law enforcement agency ostensibly acting on my behalf has, to my mind, betrayed my trust. Members of law enforcement (whether FBI, state patrolmen, city cops, sheriffs, or game wardens), insofar as they are representatives of the people, insofar as they are acting not in their own interests but in ours (they are our agents), have an obligation toward a higher standard of behavior. Indeed, it’s a sacred duty. I need to know that the people who are acting with the authority of my republic are worthy of that authority. When a field agent illegally and without repercussion kills a noble animal of demonstrable value to the state, what does this say about him? What does it say about his agency?

Consider this opinion piece a call for an investigation. Either Montana’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks needs to do some serious soul searching and rearranging of its law enforcement methods or the state Attorney General needs to do it for them. As a sportsman, as a Montana landowner and tax payer, as the public for whom these people work, I need to have my faith in Montana’s FWP restored.

Allen M. Jones is the author of, among other books, A Quiet Place of Violence: Hunting and Ethics in the Missouri River Breaks.

About Allen M. Jones

Comments

  1. Dewey says:

    Disgusting…at every level.

  2. Mad says:

    I’ve dealt with the FNG and they are an embarrassment. Maybe not all the time but there have been some really bad eggs through the years. For example when the game warden in Ennis caught a griz thinking it was a black bear and then had to shoot it because it charged him upon release. You and I would have paid a huge fine, jail time, loss of hunting privileges etc. but this clown got to keep his job. Unbelievable. Now we are shooting not just big rams but the biggest ram in the state as an undercover operation. Hopefully this will never happen again but seeing as how we are here, an example needs to be made out of Lewton. Have the lost monies come from him and his business and have the FNG change policies on shooting record animals undercover. Not sure who is worse here but anyone with Lewton’s style of ethics needs to never hunt or fish in the US and Canada again. Once again the law abiding hunter loses.

  3. Bill says:

    huh? These guys are crooks, plain and simple. I support the officer that literally put his safety if not his life on the line to bring them to justice. He brought a criminal to justice, did his best to protect the resource, and didn’t even have to torture anyone to do it. I say kudos to FWP.

  4. Michael Gregston says:

    Suckass apologists for FW&P;aside, this story stunk from the get go and everybody who hunts and loves the breaks knows it. Thanks for having the courage to say so.

  5. Michael Gregston says:

    Allen,where can I get a copy of your book?

  6. Martin Johnson says:

    Hi Allen Jones
    This was a very well written Article.
    I do know all three of these men and have hunted with them in the past and I know they are conscientious law-abiding sportsmen. I am not aware of any previous game violations. To correct you on a couple of points in your article, it is NOT illegal in Montana to spot game from an airplane as long as the game is not pursued the same day as airborne. Their flying was done pre-season, which was prior to Sept. 15th. The ram was taken on the 19th. Stating that this is illegal is misleading and slanderous to their reputation. As for the use of radios, this is not illegal either as long as they are not used for the pursuit of the game. As for the $1000. paid to Lewton, none went to him. It was for the pilot and the $1000 did not cover the pilot’s bill. This is NOT constitute guiding as Lewton and Trangmoe and Reed all had considerably more expenses out of pocket at a loss to them.
    A guided hunt costs at least $15,000 with no guarantee of success. These men hunt truly for the love of hunting. As for the officer having to shoot the ram, that is pure crap. Both officers were armed and Lewton-Reed-Trangmoe only had video cameras. These men are honorable and non-threatening. To imply otherwise is slanderous. These men have integrity and have hunted with the very most elite and wealthy hunters and would not have been invited if they were law breaking criminals. When a hunter spends $300,000 for a hunt, he does not surround himself with a criminal element that would jeopardize his hunt.

  7. Monty Hapsen says:

    Thanks Mr Jones for a great article. Before everyone villainizes these guys here are a couple facts I found out:
    -The road into this hunting area is posted “public road across private land” and the hunt itself took place on public land
    -The flying was done before the season and a week before the ram was shot and the ram was then located by foot days after the flying.
    - This ram didn’t have to be shot. After the three misses the party had lost the rams, one of the undercover agents then spotted the rams THEMSELVES and chose to shoot the big ram out of a band of three rams including two smaller rams.
    -the undercover officer had a tag issued extra for this operation
    so an extra ram died out of Montana’s population and was the tag legit?
    Sounds pretty shaky to me and if no money was charged for the hunt how is it “illegal outfitting”?

  8. Dewey says:

    “just as all the Cops are Criminals
    all the Sinner’s Saints
    heads is tails, call me Lucifer
    I’m in need of some restraint…”

    - Sympathy for the Devil
    Jagger/Richard

  9. Allen M. Jones says:

    Martin Johnson,

    I don’t know when their flying was done. You’re right to point out that if it was done pre-season it wouldn’t be illegal. I have made an appropriate change to the article.

    Thanks!

  10. Michael Gregston says:

    There is a bigger story here folks. Dig deeper Allen, look into the RMP, find out what some people suggested is occuring with regards to access and who suggested it in the first place and why.

  11. Mad says:

    You can fly the area legally just as long as you don’t hunt the same day. That is not the problem here. The problem is that FWP has a policy that requires a dead animal as evidence. It should be changed to have the undercover officer miss on purpose and document the spent round as evidence and the investigation over at that point. The officer has a firearm in hand at that point so safety should not be an issue. Just arrest the lowlife at that point.

    Lewton is guilty for plenty so let’s not start splitting hairs here. He’s gulty so charge him.

  12. Michael Gregston says:

    Mr. Lewton is not guilty and no jury will convict him. When the hair splitting starts FW&P;will look like over zealous fools played like puppets by outside interests.

  13. Jedediah Redman says:

    These guys are just ordinary red-blooded American men who get their jollies by using high-powered weapons to prove they’re superior to animals which cannot arm themselves with equalizers.

    That capitalists and constables have extended their efforts to contain their inherently immoral activities within societal bounds
    to the constest should surprise nobody.

  14. Bob Wire says:

    I’m with you there, Jedediah. “Fair chase,” my ass. Spotting from aircraft? Using walkie talkies to track the animals? I know I’m in the vast minority in this gun-happy state, but I’ll be glad when our species finally evolves to the point where people don’t kill other animals simply for the thrill of it.

    Well-written article, Allen, and it sure raises a lot of questions about the FWP and their questionable tactics. As far as that goes, they certainly do not help their image with their Ben Tre logic: “We have to destroy the village in order to save it.”

  15. bearbait says:

    Abject stupidity cost Montana a monster breeder in their sheep gene pool. But you can’t sue your government for being stupid. And you can’t get a civil judgement in the interest of the record book ram and what its significance to the income from an auction tag would bring. Gross mismanagement, and the head of the Dept. should roll, just because authority has to suffer in a deal like this. Unions will protect the field officer doing the shooting. Going after that stupid sob is a waste of money. But whoever is in charge needs to have a can tied to his or her ass, and sent down the road to a different life. That is the only way people can control public officials bent on being stupid, time after time.

  16. Kboy says:

    Must of us heard about this a long time ago when it happened and have been waiting for these scumbags to get sentenced. I am more concerned that these losers who continually “accompany” hunters and accept money get their privileges revoked for life. Some defend the money because it was given to a pilot to scout the area… well paying that pilot pretty much means he was serving as a guide or outfitter by providing services to the hunter. Not just a fanatic who tries to accompany folks. After scouring all the articles it seems the under cover agent did “miss” the shot (up to 3 times). I am guessing he had to kill it to make the case – Can’t file possession of illegal animal until the scumbag takes the carcass. I think I’ll wait for final judgement until the evidence is provided to an actual judge!

  17. Monty Hapsen says:

    Kboy, These guys do accompany hunters, but without money for themselves. The only felony charge I can see is the posession charge and in one of yesterday’s papers it said “Felony charges would not have applied if the ram had not been shot”. This tells me they had nothing on these guys and had to create felony charges by shooting the ram. That’s like an officer murdering a person to make a misdemeanor jaywalker an accomplice. Have you not ever accompanied someone on a hunt just to help them out or “show them around”, or just for the love of the hunt? And these guys never had possesion of the ram until it was brought to the taxidermists shop by the agent.

  18. Kboy says:

    Just to ‘help them out’? And they just happen to accept money each time. Come on, don’t be naive. Remember someone had to turn these folks over to FWP before an investigation could even be initiated. I doubt they stuck an agent in this position without months of gathering info first – Well I would hope not. I compare it more to like a cop buying coke from a dealer to make the bust. As long as the evidence is turned over immediately (and not sampled) it is legal.

  19. Jeff says:

    This is to Bill

    You call them crooks

    Do you know them? I think you have know idea what you are talking about , and you are to blind to see what is going on here they are covering there ass! they had 4 years to come up with we will shot a ram and charge them with possession of the ram! the flying and the radios are ways to confuse small minded people like you who believe every thing you reed.they would have charged them if there were something to charge them on they are trying to cover there ass with this statement .I know Lewton has the best reputation for helping sheep hunters and will have lots of respected people to back him up in this . this whole case comes down to jealousies . and this is the Fish and games side wait until you hear the truth.

    Jeff

  20. Jeff says:

    To Kboy

    Become a Kman

    You must be a anti hunter! Calling them Losers why would you of all people call them that ? Is it because the are Helping people out to get there Ram That is legal! at expense to them! I am not seeing the crime hear at least on these men’s part I think they have a legal action against the state for deformation of Cartier.

  21. Dave Skinner says:

    How come Mister Undercover didn’t pull out or have some kind of contingency plan? Completely inept. A zillion dollar animal plugged to bust maybe ten grand worth of fines?
    This is gonna be interesting to see how it all comes out in the wash.

  22. Monty Hapsen says:

    kboy,
    Remember so far as I’ve seen they’ve not been charged with any previous offenses for accepting money or anything else and this only accepted money for a service the officer ordered and that service was also not illegal. Some people just seriously like the hunt and helping others and helping the species in the process. Ask the MT biologists how much money Lewton has pumped into the sheep program by volunteering on these hunts and in turn providing big rams for the FWP to advertise for their auction tags.
    Some people are not driven by greed. It says one of the men charged was from Idaho and obviously drove clear to the breaks for the hunt and nothing is said about him or the man from Glendive asking for or accepting any money. Does this sound like the actions of someone trying to do this for money? Not to me unless there is more we don’t know. It just seems strange that four years investigation and a year since the hunt in question and all they seem to have are very borderline charges created by a crime committed by the officer at the moment because they had nothing else to charge them for.

  23. codycountry says:

    Allen, that was truly a well written article that shoots straight to the heart of the issue.

  24. Michael Gregston says:

    Lets put it another way…and this is the truth.
    Last fall I went sheep hunting in the breaks, I had a ewe tag. I shot my ewe, while hunting that day i saw a big ram and when I got home I told a friend with a ram tag where I saw it. He could not go the next day, however the following day he went to the same place and shot it. 2 months later we had coffee and talked about it…he bought the coffee. Am I guilty of guideing without a lic? This thing sucked from the get go.

  25. Chuck Feney says:

    Good article Allen! Both French and Henkel were tipped off on this story, but chose to sit. Kudos for breaking it, but you have more research to do.

    The governor’s Tag holder was in the immediate vicinity when this ram was killed. He was, in fact, actually making a move on that band when the agent shot the ram. He ended up “settling” for a `95 ram, but he was in position and knew the 204 ram was there. His party witnessed the kill.

    John Lewton was asked by the agent to shoot the ram after all three of the misses. Lewton refused every time, saying there would be another chance and that he had to shoot it himself.

    Lewton isn’t a poacher – he’s a sheep fanatic and his interest in these hunts is as a videographer.

    The sheep tag for the agent came out of the 20 allocated ram tags for District 680. Some poor Montana hunter gave up their chance for a hunt of a lifetime so this entrapment could occur.

    The motivation for this travesty was complaints from the area 680 guides and leasing landowners about Lewton taking hunters “for free”.

    FWP is now acting as an enforcer for the game pimps.

  26. The Scofflaw says:

    You say, “It may be that Lewton has a history of wrongdoing such that the FWP wanted to prosecute him by any means possible – the equivalent of sending Al Capone up on tax evasion.”

    I’m not a hunter but from your reporting, that sounds right on. So Lewton might not be guilty of scouting with a plane because it wasn’t done on the same day as the hunt, or might have been pre-season, and he’s not guilty of possessing the game animal (or selling it, I guess) because he wouldn’t have had it if the agent hadn’t shot it, he didn’t hunt without landowner permission (sounds like it would be hard to make that stick)–so that leaves guiding without a permit?

    Would he have done any of the above (if he did) without prodding from the agent who made the ‘sting’? If that’s not entrapment, what is?

    How about prosecuting the agent and the team behind him for an outrageous waste of taxpayer monies and killing a prize bighorn sheep? Can you imagine what would have happened if Lewton had pulled the trigger? How is it any less criminal for the agent to have done so? Knowing what the agent knew at the time of the shooting, and, as another commenter has pointed out, having a high-powered rifle to defend himself if necessary, how on earth could he have actually shot that animal (that it was his responsibility to protect)?

  27. Mad says:

    It is looking like the FNG will have their hands full with this one. Has Lewton had any prior violations? FNG needs to stick to busting people that can’t afford lawyers. I now hope that Lewton is found innocent and heads roll at FNG. This is getting even more outrageous. The FNG is paid by taxpayer money which means they need to do their job perfectly as far as I’m concerned……and they don’t.

    Grab the popcorn.

  28. Ethical Hunter says:

    Would any of you “Really” care had this been a smaller ram or even a less-than-full-curl ram?
    As Mr. Allen stated in the beginning of his article he bristles at the thought of 300lb ATV hunters etc… If these guys hunted on foot and extened that much effort why would they have done it illegaly. FW&P;should focus their officers on back country roads and at non-motorized gates during the hunting season to financially demolish illegal ATV hunters, poachers, and road hunters …there is a great source of wildlife conservation funding.

  29. T R says:

    Lewton could not have taken possession of the animal if it was not illegally killed. This is the definition of entrapment. The real issue is that if the Game Warden had not broken the law and killed the ram then there would be no way that the charges of felony unlawful sale of a game animal, felony unlawful possession of a game animal should have been filed. If the animal was shot legally then the only charge should be trespassing.
    As for outfitting without a license I know of no law that says you cannot charge for scouting, especially if you incur cost to help. Does this mean that if you take your buddy hunting in your truck and he pays for gas and food you are outfitting and breaking the law? When does it become outfitting when hunting with someone else?
    You cannot break the law to catch a criminal. I know that this makes it harder on law enforcement but if the people “upholding” the law don’t follow the rules why should anyone else.

  30. Kboy says:

    I love this! And my compliments to the author for writing the article and continuing this debate. (And to Jeff: only more years of life can make me a man. I do still have the open mindedness of youth!) I decided to check with my local county attorney’s office and the lady explained it is not illegal for an under cover wildlife agent to kill an animal, and especially if a judge has issued a warrant in the case. And i bet if you check with Chouteau County (or whatever side of the river that district is in) I believe you will find a warrant was issued for FWP officers to do all sorts of things (we don’t like!) I bet if anyone actually takes the time to follow this to trial (if these guys don’t plea out first, and my opinion is they are still losers) you will find out, although it is striking a nerve of every hunter who has every applied for a sheep tag, that it was done within the law. I do wonder if FWP considered what a unpopular move this case would be? If the agent actually enjoyed this case? But then some folks out there must find it more than questionable why Mr. Lewton accompanies so many sheep hunters, why he accepts money to help them, and wonder if his taxidermy business just happens to benefit from all of this.

  31. bearbait says:

    If, in fact, the Governor’s tag holder was on this sheep, and had it taken from under him by the game officers, the public relations fiasco this will put on Montana is huge. Terrible deal for Montana. A 205 ram is a state treasure. An icon. The absolute dream of every sheep hunter taken by the cops is not going to play well across the nation.

    First, the ram was a part of the gene pool, a gene pool as good as any that exists. Second, it is Montana’s people who own and control it, not government for government’s sake. Third, entrapment will not pass the smell test in a court of peers if the defendants have fair to middling legal representation. At that time, all has been lost. The thing becomes a farce. Some BBC comedy. Mr. Bumbles meets Mr. Overnice.

    I once drew a sheep tag. I had a friend go with me to scout. He hasn’t quit since then. He became obsessed with sheep and hunting them. In his end of the world, he is the person who knows where they are, who lives there, and the scores of most of the mature rams. The guiding deal is limited by the BLM. So one guide service on public lands for two dozen sheep tags all in use in two one week periods. Government is not the friend. Government is not even user friendly. So if one were to draw a tag for that area, don’t you expect the local ADD sheep fanatic would get some calls. Those guys are just wanting, hoping, that someone calls so they can go on another sheep hunt. For free. Just for the solution to their sheep jones.

    I have added this because I know it exists. It might just be the reason for the whole process of government and their own ADD problems, their compulsive need to make an illegal guiding bust.

    We might be looking at the place where extremes meet in wild sheep hunting, and both parties are wrong. Which provides for interesting law, law enforcement, and legislation.

  32. Monty says:

    Whatever comes of this is a shame. All of these charges just seem to be technicalities. It doesn’t appear to me there was any malicious intent by these men and no previous track record of any. If they are convicted it won’t be because they went looking to do something wrong, the FWP went to them and through technicalities made a chrime. It will afect them and still be a big black eye for the FWP. If they are found innocent, they still will have been affected by this and have to live with trying to clear their previously good reputations. If you read all the comments on this statewide, anyone who knows or has had contact with these men speak nothing but accolades on how good and reputable they are. A shame all the way around.

  33. Chuck Feney says:

    The root of this investigation was the complaints from the incompetent outfitters and leasing landowners in Sheep district 680 complaining to FWP that Lewton was taking sheep hunters “for free” and he was embarrassing them by helping to take a majority of the big rams harvested in that district.

    The art of sheep hunting for trophy rams is the ability to judge their score on the hoof. It’s more art than science and no one was better at judging sheep than John Lewton. That is why so many Governor’s tag holders wanted him to film their hunts and judge the rams they were looking at.

    The outfitters in District 680 are famous for calling 175 rams as 200 inchers. They are renouned for producing “ground shrinkage” disappointed hunters.

    But what happens when you drink bad water and practice inbreeding for 100 years. I’m referring to the outfitters, not the sheep, of course!

  34. Jack says:

    The undercover warden should be prosecuted with the other culprids. The undercover warden could have shot a ewe if he had to shoot one but he didn’t have to shoot any at all. Did the warden have a 680 permit at all? If he did that means FWP ‘rigged’ the drawing. Was his life in danger? Couldn’t be, he had a loaded rifle and probably a pistol as well.Were the other cuprits armed? He could have arrested all the culprids on the spot before any ram was shot and called in more ‘shoes’. Shooting the ram makes him as guilty as the other culprids.Was Helena involved in this caper? This is a poor piece of enforcement work.The warden joined the culprids in pursuit of Montana’s probably largest ram. They should all be prosecuted under the laws.

    Watch for political cover up on this one. Montana sportsmen should be outraged. Why did all of this just come out in the news media? It should have been publicized months ago.When BLM allowed aircraft to land inside of the Breaks we should have expected a lot of this shady stuff to happen. What about elk and deer hunting with aircraft there now? Where were the BLM cops in the meantime? Were they out on the public funded shooting range near Lewistown shooting weapons we paid for to??
    All of this happens on our public lands……isn’t that great? Fines must be doubled!! No hunting for a lifetime for all these culprits including the warden who should be fired!!Prosecute them all and the warden first. Is the warden still on the public tab? Why is he being paid while the investigation goes on? Will the warden plead temporary insanity??

  35. Zsa Zsa says:

    What if the “agent” was in pursuit of a human serial killer? Perhaps Mr. Lewton’s official rights should be questioned.

  36. My Sheep Tag says:

    TO: Paul

    The only poacher I see in this story is the FWP warden who illegally killed what could have been my Record Book Ram. Oh, and for the part about the safety of the undercover agents. The undercover agents were the ones packing firearms. The innocent until proven guilty party were packing video cameras. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you make stupid comments in your unperfect world.

  37. shameonyou says:

    Rednecks. How hard is is to hunt? Sneak up, aim and kill it. Get your dumb looking redneck picture taken, eat it, hang its dead carcass on your wall, brag to your friends about how your fat ass, and your giant gun, rode up to the hunted animal by horse, by airplane, or even by the side of the road, paid ridiculous amounts of money to hunt, and for what? “The meat?” Whatever, I’d sure like to hunt the “good huntin’ people” just to see what all of the excitements about. These are large animals just minding their own business, and Billy Joe Bob Darrel Jr. just wants to shoot an EASY LARGE target. Or maybe someone can help me understand the appeal of it all.

  38. Jack says:

    Good comment My Sheep Tag…Wardens are supposed to be trained for difficult situations. Would the police and highway patrol cave in to? I don’t think so. If the job was going to be tough and FWP knew it why send out a ‘milk toast’ warden? Remember the warden had a loaded rifle,extra ammo and probably a pistol as well. The warden was a fool and didn’t do his job properly. He/she should not have shot any sheep at all. Who would be threatened if you had the rifle and loaded? The warden is as guilty as the other culprits. Think about it they illegally shot a trophy ram that was avilable to wild sheep hunters who played by the rules.This is a FWP screw up admit it. How many other illegal trophies were taken by the culprits over the years and Lewton is a taxidermist? FWP should be ashamed the way this was handled. We need to know the names of all FWP personnel involved in this caper. Did Lawton take a photo of the warden next to OUR wild sheep? Post that photo here as well.

  39. Michael Gregston says:

    Oh my, I couldn’t make this crap up…and just before hunting season!
    Take it from this Chouteau County resident…these guys will walk.

  40. mike crill says:

    And the rest of the story.The World Record Trout caught by these two boys was thrown out because they used their hands.Some one else caught a bigger one but still, what a bummer huh.

  41. Jack says:

    Look at the facts all of them are poachers and took the ram for selfish greed and used every illegal means possible to locate the ram. No fair chase here. Will they all plead tempory insanity?

  42. dan corkill says:

    UNFUKINBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  43. bearbait says:

    What is not ringing true is the fact that state governments are broke, and this ram was a million dollar deal for Montana. 205 by a good judge of horn scoring, and you have had to looked at a lot of sheep, over many years, to be able to judge a ram like that with in a couple of inches. bases, how it carries, total length. How broomed. All estimated through field glasses or spotting scopes, digital cameras, blown up on a digital tv screen, and whatever the tricks are, is art. Some do it a whole lot better than others. If you have a record book ram like that, there is a whole body of men and women with the means to spend a fortune to be able to take a ram like that. And they pay. This is no Blixeth deal.

    So, if Montana Parks and Wildlife can piss away a million bucks to prosecute a guiding misdemeanor, small time felony, whatever, they have lots of money.

    In my state, Oregon, we have a big hatchery coho run in the ocean now coming into rivers. But we are not even close to recovering wild coho, and until that happens, commercial fishing is stopped, and sports fishing has to release, “unharmed”, all wild, or non fin clipped coho. So with this pile of fish in the ocean, they open the ocean to a three fish limit. After 50 years of two fish limits. With all chinook and wild coho to be released “unharmed.” How netting a fish, hauling it on deck, looking through the mesh while the fish loses scales by the thousands, struggling for air, to be determined “wild” and the hook removed and the fish tossed back into the ocean, is considered “unharmed” is news to me.

    Further more, by increasing the limit by 50%, you also increase the chances of hooking a “wild” fish to be released. And that released fish has a very good chance of being caught again, and again, until the season closes or the fish dies. Hook and release mortality has been estimated at 30%. Hook the same fish three times and it is dead. And, you increase your chances of catching a chinook because you still have your worm in the water. The “salmon tag” is good for 10 salmon or steelhead. You can buy a “hatchery salmon steelhead tag”, and put only hatchery fish on it. Before, it would take 5 days to fill a tag. Now it takes 3 before you need another tag to be able to catch the two fish plus the one left on the old tag you are allowed in a day. The issue is that with good fishermen and reasonable effort, the state sells 40% more tags. It IS A REVENUE DEAL—-NOT CONSERVATION.

    The stories are legion from this summer on the ocean, about people who caught 40 fish to find 12 keepers. and did it several times. That is not conservation, folks, that is revenue generation. Dead salmon are the most valuable salmon, especially if they are dead in a spawning stream. It is their dead body that provides the nutrients to get the next generation to the ocean. People don’t shit in the creek. Eagles and bears and coyotes and raccoons do. And the salmon returns to the creek in scat. Or makes that tree grow up slope somewhere. But the state wants revenue, not conservation. They will be there selling the last tag to shoot whatever, catch whatever, if only to fund their pensions, their salaries, their being. We now have government, for government, by government, and the rest of your jobs are just tolerated because they produce income to wrest from you to fund their follies. Shooting the 205 ram because “he had to” is the biggest bullshit story ever. He shot a 205 ram, a feat many would love but will never have a chance to do. Hero game cop. The only one with a gun on the claim. The whole deal stinks, does not pass the smell test, and further undermines the authority of government. It proves their ineptness. Pshaw!!! as the old librarian used to say.

  44. Chuck Feney says:

    Paul:

    What form of ritual abuse were you subjected to to make you so subservient to FWP officials? Were you tied up as a child by someone in a game warden uniform and tickled to unconsciousness?

    Sounds like you have a real fetish for ass kissing fish cops.

  45. mike crill says:

    Now let me see, figure this one out.We now get to hunt wolves and only 230? wolfs can be killed and yet over 4,000+ tags were sold.I would like to know just how 4,000+ wolf killers are going to know when the 230 limit is full.Again another big business for the crooks and we have to put up with this.Last years with $3 million dollars left in their kitty,for their so called Bear recovery,they(FandG) had to spend this money or lose money for next year.In less than a month or two,$3MILLION dollars was wasted collecting Bear hair.Yap,sent a Army of $6.25hr wage workers to collect Bear hair samples for DNA(joke).And then they requested MORE MILLIONS they said was needed to continue the Bear recovery BS.And they got it.of course.And WE keep forking it out.Another scam is the FandG will and do, take a section of land and split it up into pies.Each pie is called a designated area where only a special permit can be used to hunt elk in this area.Now, They sell thousands of special elk tags and mainly for the out of staters who pay/get screwed hundreds/thousands of bucks.So with say 20 sections pied up on this land,there are ONLY 10 to 20 elk in this entire area.Most of the pie don’t even have elk but they don’t care.They love screwing so many…knowingly.Yes it is BIG bussiness and the people get screwed.What use to be ours is now theirs and we have to pay for what was ours and that is all we do is pay pay pay and I still ain’t shot a elk in my pie.I should of went and bought a beef instead.Will do that this hunting season.Can’t deal with the BS.No fun anymore…

  46. Monty says:

    Listen everyone the point your missing here is they started this investigation because Lewton was accompanying these hunters so they were suspicious he was taking money. A FOUR YEAR INVESTIGATION TURNED UP NOT ONE THING! If you read some other blogs there are numerous people writing in saying Lewton went on their sheep hunts and asked not for one penny and then thanked them for letting him be a part of their hunt. It also says pretty much everywhere these men have No Prior Offenses. All that was charged this time were misdemeanors and it sounds like the tresspassing is very questionable as the road was posted public road across private land and the illegal guiding is very questionable as they asked for no money and only recieved payment for the pilot of the plane which was also legal. So the whole thing comes down to the fact that no previos crime was found, no serious crime was solicited by the accused, slim misdemeanors were the only crimes that would amount to a simple ticket until the FWP created this crime because they had nothing else. They served a search warrant on Lewton’s home and business. They seized all of his computors, cameras, records, etc. a year ago. After analizing all of it for almost a year they came up with not one charge other than his taxidermy license had barely lapsed and needed renewed. Look this up it’s all public record. The statute of limitations is a year from the time of the supposed crime. It says the ram was shot Sept 19th. If they had a monster crime ring and all these charges you guys are trying to create, why did it take so long to come up with nothing but THIN charges? No, they had to come up with some charges before the statute of limitations ran out in a week or two to cover the outrage they are recieving over killing this ram. All the investigating ONLY came up with the charges from the crime created by the officer shooting that ram that one day AND Lewton buying a supposedly legally taken ram wcich is also not illegal and also created by him shooting the ram. I’ve always been a staunch supporter of all fish and game departments. I thank them for the job they do to protect our game. I just find it a travesty these good men, by all accounts of everyone writing in that knows them, are being hung simply because this is an investigation that went awry. I’m sure the FWP was suspicious of his accompanying all these sheep hunters and I’m sure after complaints by the 680 outfitter from Butte they followed up and I’m sure they believed they would find all kinds of evidence of wrongdoing when they served the search warrants, but they didn’t. They shot the ram hoping there would be alot more but there wasn’t. Now because they solicited these men on this hunt, and remember without them approaching these men even the misdemeanors wouldn’t be there, and created this crime and the one crime created by the FWP is the only thing they have.

  47. Jill Kuraitis says:

    What I like best about this very well-written article is how much there is to learn from it. As a non-hunter who is just beginning to understand the many sides to the issue, I soaked up a lot of important and surprising information. Good job, Mr. Jones; and thanks for letting reason, logic and personal honor guide your way.

  48. Mike says:

    I am not a hunter, or a fan of hunting, but this story is appalling. From what I read here, the only thing that was done wrong was done by FWP. I certainly support good protection of our natural resources, and the prosecution of those who illegally misuse them, but this certainly does not seem to be anything like that, except on the part of the FWP.

  49. Kboy says:

    It will all be decided in a court of law. But by all means BLOG ON!

  50. Jack says:

    It’s difficult for me to understand how some readers are trying to support the poachers and all the illegal tactics used to locate the ram.We should be supporting the laws be followed. I wonder how many other Montana trophies were shipped out of Montana in the past and violated the Lacy Act a federal law.Entrapment doesn’t seem to enter this case at all. The poachers were caught and one is a taxidermist. When will the trial start and all evidence presented in a court trial?

  51. Sutton says:

    Maybe that undercover agent had just stared into the abyss too long. The hunter must be careful, that he does not become the thing he hunts.

    Great read, Allen.

  52. VTT says:

    These 3 guys did’nt shoot the ram….why did’nt the undercover agent Justin Gibson get charged for shooting the ram,sounds like he is the only one that committed a crime here.

  53. Chuck Feney says:

    VTT:
    So the undercover agent’s name is Justin Gibson?? It would be nice if his picture got posted here or on the Bowsite- Montana Forum – Rumor has it – blog.

  54. Mad says:

    Maybe it’s best to wait this one out before anyone gets called a poacher again.

    The undercover agent will probably get a promotion and a retirement pention at the end of his career just like that dope in Ennis that shot and killed the grizzly because he mistook it for a black bear. IT WAS IN A BEAR TRAP FOR GOD’S SAKE!!! Lots more stories of this moron. Stupidity runs rampant in some government jobs I guess. Killing that ram the way they did is like tearing up a winning lottery ticket when you are eating out of a dumpster. There would have been huge benefits if ANYONE would have taken it legally, not just the Governor’s tag holder. Disgusting shame.

  55. Chuck Feney says:

    So will Warden Justin Gibson’s name appear in the record book of Boone and Crockett for this tremendous Bighorn Ram? He was issued one of the 20 precious ram tags for 680, but I wonder if he actually applied for that district.

    Did he go thru the drawing or was a tag pullrd for him. If a tag was pulled, then FWP is engaging in fraud and the Attorney General needs to bring that rogue agency to heel.

    Was he instructed to kill a giant ram in this operation to hang in the FWP headquarters?

    This whole debacle really stinks.

    Call the Attorney General and demand an investigation of FWP’s actions.

  56. monty says:

    Boy, it seems Jack and K boy are the only ones really slamming these guys here, you’d think Jack and kboy were brothers! Jack, there were NO illegal tactics used to locate the ram and NO charges pressed for any. It is not illegal to fly and especially not a week before the sheep is shot. If you look around, ask around, and read all the blogs and the charges, no crimes were found or charged from either the four year look into this or from all the records, pictures, cameras, or anything else seized from the search warrant. Not one charge came from any of it and that includes the FWP interviewing numerous hunters that hunted with these guys in the past. Not one charge. So Jack and kboy are you suggesting the FWP is so innept they simply missed all the “poaching” these guys have done and only were able to press charges by creating a crime to stick on these guys? I guess they just needed to call you two experts to convict them. Another thing, none of the charges are federal so no “Lacey act” applies and I’m sure that would have showed up on the investigation of the taxidermy shop also but again no charges. Maybe, just maybe, these guys truly are innocent and you and your brother, like the FWP are trying to convict these guys through the press. Sounds like sour grapes to me. I think some people just find it hard to believe and are irked (or jealous) these guys get these hunters big rams and have the audacity to do it for free! Some people still enjoy just being a part of the hunt and in the process helping the FWP and sheep programs by helping these guys harvest big rams to promote the the tags to help them bring big money. This year the Gov tag brought $245,000 and do you think its not because of them finding and helping harvest this ram? 90% of that money goes to the FWP. Some thanks they got huh?

  57. Jack says:

    Hey we all love wild sheep and we all do much to promote re-introduction and management of wild sheep. What a bunch of crap! Sportmen play by the rules apply for the permits in drawings legally and then hunt wild sheep using fair chase. This whole issue is about poaching,illegal outfitting,illegal locating game animals,setting up hunts illegally,hiding evidence,etc.etc…When does the trial start?

  58. Martha Egan says:

    Gentle Readers:

    This is hardly the first time that federal agents have killed big game animals in order to “save” them. See the book “A Hunt for Justice: The True Story of a Woman Undercover Wildlife Agent” by Lucinda Delany Schroeder. While somewhat self-aggrandizing, this is an interesting read about a sting in Alaska in 1992.

    Yours–M. Egan

  59. Mr. Twister says:

    I can do one better, try ‘operation falcon”, where usfws used a guy from MT to help them steal falcon eggs to use in a failed sting operation that cost millions.

  60. Kboy says:

    Hey monty,
    Maybe Jack and I are the only ones who actually have a knowledge of criminal justice. I’ll admit I never obtained my degree in the subject but I know enough to know that whoever the dipsh!!! was who posted the agent’s name (if it is his true name) has probably insured that legal staff will now subpoena this entire site’s blog and each and everyone’s real e-mail address will be checked out. Way to go.

  61. monty says:

    Kboy check your facts again, good ol’ monty didn’t put his name out there, it’s on another post so once again your facts are incorrect.

  62. Kboy says:

    monty – I never implied that you did. I said “whoever”.

  63. Kevin says:

    Monty…I think you’re right on.

    Follow the money guys…follow the money. Where is the money coming from in this whole scenario? It’s not going to the accused; there are dozens of hunters who will testify that every hunt Lewton accompanied did NOT pay him a dime (read the other blogs around this story, if you missed the 15 times this it’s been pointed out in this thread). Every charge on the list comes down to 2 things: Outfitting without a license, and the highly questionable and easily defeatable “Trespassing” claim.

    1. Outfitting without a license (Misdemeanor). The $1,000 that was paid for the pilot is the only money that has been documented changing hands…and Lewton can easily show that money was not paid to him. Charge gone.

    2. Hunting without landowner permission (misdemeanor): looks like this is going to come down to heresay…maps of the area clearly show (and as posted above and on other blog discussions on the issue) that the access to the PUBLIC land they were hunting is a public road through private land. Lewton has as much right to use that access as anyone else. The only “evidence” that they crossed private property will be the FWP’s testimony that Lewton “asked him if he minded Trespassing”. Any 2nd year law student would have a field day using the agent’s questionable judgement to discredit his reliability. I can’t see this charge sticking either.

    If those 2 charges are gone, this was not an illegally taken trophy and the 2 felony charges against Lewton are irrelevant.

    This whole scenario is a no-win situation, and looks like the result of a political fiasco caused by the envious outfitters in the area who’s undies get in a twist by a guy doing this for “Free” and taking money out of their pocket. If you don’t think these outfitters and Landowners have some influence on the decisions of the FWP, you’re dreaming. I think Monty’s the only one involved in this discussion who’s got the scenario right.

  64. No Bro says:

    FYI – The comment period is open until Sept 28 on FWP’s Bighorn Sheep Strategy Plan. Go to: http://fwp.mt.gov/wildlife/conservation/bighorn.html

  65. Dean says:

    Thanks for writing this article Allen it was very enlightening. FWP must have quite a bit of evidence on this case.This is a wake up call for hunters to report violations on the toll free number.Be sure to have a good map with you and notebook.I wonder how many other violations these people have had in the past.It will all come out in court Iam sure. Will the trial be held in Malta or Helena does anyone know? I hope soon.

  66. Chuck Feney says:

    kboy:

    Your infatuation with law enforcement has resulted in you being blind as to who really committed the criminal acts in this case. FWP, using the authority of the State, attempted to “set up” three sheep fanatics because they DON’T charge to help hunters find trophy rams.

    FWP has got a full blown P.R. disaster started here. You can’t buy this kind of bad press.

    FWP shown that it is operating for the benefit of the outfitting industry, at least some of them, in Montana. A full investigation of the FWP by the Attorney General is warranted in this case.

  67. monty says:

    Kboy, you are right, you did say whoever, I apologize. Listen, I adamately support the FWP and the job they do, but mistakes are made and I firmly believe they went into this thinking they were going to find a big illegal guiding ring with a long past history, but they didn’t. That is where the mistake was made. Every charge they came up with is only from this one hunt they arranged and no other charges came from any past hunts. Period. No history. I don’t want to get in a pissing contest with you and Jack, there is too much facing hunters from anti’s let alone fighting amongst ourselves. It just looks to me the FWP thought they had a case, set up this sting and only came away from it with this mess and no priors. The crime hear is no matter what no one wins. Even if the FWP wins they still lose from all the bad feelings and press over the big ram. If the accused win, they still lose as they have been villainized even if innocent. That’s one thing that seems a shame is it says everywhere they have no past and no past charges but are marked now and if the FWP is wrong on this one, they won’t admit it and vindicate their names afterwards.

  68. Jack Atcheson Jr. says:

    There is a great deal of discussion and assumption on this case. One item that has been brought up is the issue of monies possibly paid making this an illegally oufitted hunt. The Montana law on illegal outfitting states that any form of consideration by a hunter to a possible unlicensed non permitted “guide” is illegal outfitting. Money is just one form of consideration. A close friend of mine that filmed hunts over 15 years ago was convicted of illegal outfitting because he took the hunters offer of covering gas, hotel and meals to be shown how to hunt the area and get a copy of the film. Of course my friend was offering this service as often as possible and had a business selling hunting videos. Nationally, the hunting film industry has requested a waiver on federal land use rules, requirmenting permits for commerical activities on federal lands. I guess the film industry thinks they are different than other business that are required to obtain a user permit, co insure the land use agency and pay a user fee to use public lands.

  69. Dean says:

    with all those BLM cops out there these days what do they actually do? Has anyone ever seen one out hunting or anywhere else? I have seen violations reported them and I am sure BLM did nothing. BLM cops cost the taxpayer a lot of money….what a waste. I know one that couldn’t find the floor if he feel out of bed.I would hate to guess how many of these dead beats we have in Montana.You would think they would have been involved somehow but it doesn’t seem that way.Now BLM allowed planes to land in the Missouri Breaks on selected airstrips. What a great deal for illegal outfitters to fly and spot game.Did these use a BLM airstrip?When’s the trial and where?

  70. monty says:

    Jack, I’m sorry as I don’t know the exact particulars or if it was for this “hunt” but from checking John Lewton is the only person to ever buy one of those permits to film in the breaks. Jack you are respected in the hunting and sheep world and come from a proud name but just step outside your interest in this and keep an open mind, this could happen to anyone who takes another hunting. Technicalities are the only charges filed in this investigation. It could happen to anyone.

  71. Mad says:

    Jim Krop once said, “Wardens can say anything they want.”

    It looks like we might see if this is in fact true.
    I don’t think the law will agree.

  72. Dean says:

    Technicalities?? Looks like a 4 year investigation into this illegal operation to me. Why protect the violators and place the blame on the investigators? This whole caper was planned out well in advance and it backfired. I wonder how many other illegal capers were done with the same players over the years. When will the trial(s) be held and where? I would like to be there and see what the accused has to say and evidence presented in court. I hope we have a tough Judge as well. When and whereis the trial. Thanks for the new information Jack Jr. I never thought of that one.

  73. Jack Atcheson Jr. says:

    Here’s how a legal guided hunt would occur in this particular area. First the client places a down payment on the services agreed upon. The outfitter files an estimated use report with the BLM and pays a deposit on the estimated use based at 3% of the gross price of the hunt. The outfiiter can use state land in the area if he has the commerial use permit in all the state section he might need. The permit is generally valid for 5 or more year, he pays a yearly user fee for this as well. If the state land is leased by another outfitter he can’t use it with out an agreement and likely more money in a user fee. Then you cover the landowners that might allow you to use their lands and you insure all the agencies and landowners and provide the board of outfitters with proof of insurance, we all know the price of liaibility insurance. Now if you are going to use a boat on the Missouri you need a Coast Guard permit, more paper work and user fees likely, add additional coverage for insurance. Now all the money has to go direct to the outfitter and if a guide or someone to film/guide/pack is involved for the hunt then the outfitter pays that person as an employee, meaning unemployment insurance, workmans comp, fed and state taxes all deducted. Then at the end of the hunt the actual use report is filed and the correct percentage paid. When you check the ram in with F&G;the transport permit asks if you were outfited and the outfitters name.

    It is real hard to be an outfitter in any sheep area of Montana as demand is so low and perhaps their are only 2-3 hunters a year at hire a outfitter in the breaks. Then the ram swins the river and goes into an area you are not permitted in. There are 6-7 legally licensed outfitters in this area.

  74. Woodsman says:

    The government has been successfully pulling this crap on bikers for years. Now they’re targeting other fringe segments (hunters) of the population. Who’s next?

  75. Dean says:

    For those that apply for a wild sheep permit in the drawing and play by the rules this is sickening.That ram could have been taken by a sportsman in a fair chase hunt and this sting operation was good afterall that is one more poaching ring we don’t have to worry about.Wild sheep in Montana is a limited resource and sportmen that truly want wild sheep and repect wild sheep should be outraged over this.Selfish greed and profit played a role in this caper and little repect for wild sheep.With the upcoming hunting season hunters should report illegal activities to FWP and other authorities.
    Who’s airplane was used here?Who was the pilot? Did they use the BLM airstrips in 680 where BLM closed most of the roads and side roads to the hunter? BLM created a situation down there that was inviting to illegal operations with planes and spotting game.All of this evidence should be interesting at the trial.When and where is the trial?

  76. Mad says:

    Dean,

    The only thing you will find interesting is the underhandedness of the FWP. Nobody is in trouble for flying so you can stop worrying about that. What needs to be done is make all sheep outfitting illegal in that area. Problem solved.

  77. Dean says:

    No, the problem is we all must follow the laws that is why we have them.Flying below 500 feet to spot and classify game except for FWP is also illegal. It was the sportsmen who paid to have the wild sheep introduced into the Missouri Breaks with the financial assistance of the Foundation For N.A. Wild Sheep.Wild sheep must be managed and laws followed to assist management. Are you advocating it’s ok to run a poaching operation rather it be wild sheep,elk ,deer, moose,etc.?FWP has cleaned up a number of these operations over the years we all know more are out there.FWP was not working against the law bidding hunter in my view.They should all have been arrested without shooting the ram however. We should all wait for the trial and evidence to be presented. This all should make other illegal operations a little nervous. I would not classify them as “hunters” or put them in the same catagory as “hunters’. These are poachers and law breakers that fianally got caught admit it. I would like to hear from the pilot at the trial.What was said and who said it? Close those airstrips in 680 and the breaks. When is the trial and all ‘evidence’ presented? FWP has the ‘evidence’ for the trial not us.

  78. Shane says:

    How are they poachers? No money was paid and they were packing cameras not guns.

  79. Shane says:

    Someone wrote that Lewton had been investigated for four years and in that time they found nothing? Why would they continue if this is true. FWP should not have went this far. They shoud drop this one now. Too many holes in it. These guys are not out breaking laws, their just doing what they love to do, and it seems like they are pretty goood at it. Drop it now this is another waste of time and money.

  80. Dean says:

    Drop it??? That is the decision of the Judge after all evidence is presented in a court of law!

  81. bearbait says:

    It appears that the consensus is that those things dangling on the other end from the big horns are not the only sheep nuts, and FWP has nuts, too, but they are in law enforcement. Who’d a ever figgered?

  82. Dean says:

    When and where will the trial be? Does anyone know? All the evidence will be presented in this case there.

  83. Jack says:

    Since this all happened on federal lands it would appear the federal prosecuters will become involved.That being said the trial maybe held in federal court in Billings, Dean. BLM and perhaps the CMR lands were flown,there are state sections there as well. The pilot will have to testify on all that. Wonder if the plane was confiscated as well and wonder where the plane was flown out of. I guess we will all find out sooner or later.

  84. monty says:

    Guys, read this again and look in all the papers “NO CHARGES WERE FILED CONCERNING THE AIRPLANE”! Because it was a week before season and not illegal! The sheep was then found on foot a week later. The only charge the FWP filed that MIGHT have been committed by the accused is tresspassing by riding across a private road to public land. Then the hunt was conducted on foot.
    The other crime was committed by the FWP officer to implicate the accused and make the felony charge.

  85. concerned says:

    I know a man who witnessed a wreck and while the rest of the crowd stood there, he gave CPR to the bloodied, dieing, man. I know a man who was leaving work, witnessed a head on collision and crawled in the wreckage to hold a 90 year old man’s head as he struggled for breath and died. I know a man who crawled into an overturned semi with downed power lines laying across it and diesel fuel spilling into it to free the trapped driver with internal injuries. This is all the same man. He is not an EMT or a paramedic, but a hunter. He is a great husband, devoted father, and always the first to help a neighbor, friend, or even a stranger in need. He belongs to numerous wild life conservation and hunting organizations and attends many of their fundraisers each year. His name is James Reed and he is one of the accused being villianized in this case. I feel fortunate to know him and have him as my neighbor.

  86. Mtdream says:

    Wow, lots of junior achiever prosecutors on here…regardless of your view on hunting, we should ALL be appalled by this act of “justice”

    First year students are taught two simple phrases that are being neglected here…“actus reus” and a “mens rea”…

    If there was not a bad action taken (actus reus) and no “intent act” to commit a crime then there is no case here…if no case, then no provable act…remember the burden of proof is on the “State” to prove…

    My understanding of the facts is pretty limited…something that does not separate me from anyother person on this thread of opinions…

    Lastly, I am a crazy who enjoys taking others out, and have helped others get elk before, and I have taken NO money for doing so…In fact this year, I am taking several people out, and I wont (probably) even bring my bow along…I just love getting out and getting away…I have been told by FWP that if they even buy me a dinner, then I am taking money for guiding…that is insanity, but it is what they say, and I will not even let FRIENDS buy me dinner while out, as I do NOT want to be labeled a criminal for having dinner with friends…seems a little but arbitrary and capricious at best…

  87. Jack says:

    That sounds so lovely. No more ‘stick and release’! Lovely and dinner to all for free….lovely just lovely.Sounds like Jimmie Carter.

  88. Mtdream says:

    Jack,

    not sure if your comments are towards me or not…

    “By Jack, 9-03-09
    It’s difficult for me to understand how some readers are trying to support the poachers and all the illegal tactics used to locate the ram.We should be supporting the laws be followed. I wonder how many other Montana trophies were shipped out of Montana in the past and violated the Lacy Act a federal law.Entrapment doesn’t seem to enter this case at all. The poachers were caught and one is a taxidermist. When will the trial start and all evidence presented in a court trial?”

    Perhaps you would like to detail the illegal acts for us?
    Perhaps you would like to detail how the Lacy Act even comes into play here…

    Here are the only facts I know of…

    Flying to locate game- A person (undercover agent) paid for a guy to fly over land looking for a sheep…this is not illegal…Had they hunted within 24 hours of doing the flyover, then it would have been illegal…but the facts are not in dispute, it was NOT within 24 hours…

    Tresspass- Did they illegally cross private land? There is a lot of doubt and confusion on teh forums as to whether they actually crossed private land illegally…in fact one of the threads says the road they used was crossing private land but was a public access road…

    Illegal possession of game animal- Supposedly the felony they are going after is “for possessing and illegally taken animal” Here is where the Lacey act might apply, however, there is that nasty little fact the person shooting the animal had a “legally obtained” tag, or portrayed that their tag was illegally obtained…

  89. Jack says:

    Not you at all this whole episode is sickening and a bad mark for sport hunting. I have seen and heard enough of all this. It’s up to the courts now I guess.

  90. bob jackson says:

    I have been reading this thread but didn’t want to break the flow of it by commenting. From a law enforcement perspective I’d have to say there is a lot more going on behind the “lines” than what is commented on and known so far. For one, if these folks being charged DID “assist” various governors hunt winners in the past then there are a LOT of politics involved. Who is being interviewed from these high rollers can have very serious ramifications and consequences. Rest assured the governor of Montana was briefed before any charges were filed…or before much of any high roller confessions were extracted.

    If there is found to be a pattern of illegal activity with “guiding” these former governors winners then it is going to give the whole fat cat bidding process a bad name. Thus, how far the G&F;wanted to pry was probably tempered by this knowledge…even though showing past patterns of abuse could definitely help G&F;in this case.

    Thus, whomever the defending lawyer is will probably get his best leverage from pushing disclosure of ALL G&F;interviews of these hunters. Imminities could have been given for info…but the question is how much does the system want to show by obtaining info that needs to allow for immunity? If the defense is willing to push the political angle they might find out any past hesitancies by G&F;to do their job in this case. Plea bargins and dropped charges then have more posibility.

    On the other hand, the state, I’m sure, had a lot of pressure from the outfitter association to go after “scab outfitters”. Where I patrolled out of, the SE corner of Yellowstone, there was so much of this pressure the Wyoming governor apppointed and hired two deputies, badges, guns and all, to keep on top of all the complaints of this “illegal” activity by the states outfitters.

    What these three MT. private “hunters” were doing to “assist” trophy ram hunters would have been on par with demands for charges by licensed outfitters in Wyoming.

    But even with all these outfitter complaints, what info tips and assistance outfitters give the governors hired guns is mostly limited to basic illegal economic “payments” to unlicensed “outfitters”.

    What J. Achenson Jr. gave as his explaination of outfitter license requirements is what is always given on the surface. Below the water is what all of them know is a lot more …. what most all outfitters do to make it financially…and a lot of this stuff is illegal or at best unethical. For outfitters to give the state all of what they know happened behind the scenes on this case then means all of they themselves have to be scrutinized.

    Do you think the G&F;asked the “respected sheep world” and “proud family”, A. Jr., as Monty says he is, what all this meant to have three guys assisting this hunter get his ram? Are they going to be told that as soon as that plane spotted the big ram the hunt started…that assumed ram ownership by this group meant there was someone immediately keeping tabs on this ram and keeping others away? That there was a lot of two way traffic from the beginning? That this ram was probably herded to the hunter without him even knowing it…that probably illegal Brown-Brown (mineral salt and molasses) had been placed by these individuals in places so THEY could keep track of this sheep, but also make it harder for others to spot this ram ….long before this plane flew?

    You see there is an inside world out there with outfitters and it is club inclusive. Thus, even though a sheep outfitter like Jr. knows every move by everyone of these guys he won’t say it. To do so in too many cases gives away the way sheep outfitters operate.

    And by Jr. noting that even with all the work the outfitter put into getting that ram into position for the shot ‘he still swims the river to protected ground” means only one thing…the outfitter will do about everything but pull the trigger, if possible. I guarentee if the ram is big enough, the ram that swam the river doesn’t just get a free pass. The boys are over on the other side trying to herd him back.

    What else do “honest outfitters” do but won’t describe on these pages? In my country most guides were not paid employees. The outfitter tried to figure ever way possible to classify them as independent contractors . This means there is no insurance and compensation to pay out. Tell a local he can hunt for himself out of their camp if he guides the camps hunters for two weeks….or give compensation in the form of horses, tack etc.

    In print it may be so sad song to say what all licensed outfitters have to go through, but on the ground the word of the day in outfitter camps is CHEAP!!

    Don’t think most every outfitter out there knows how a guy from Rexburg got compensated…but for them to tell G&F;means they themselves gets looked into.

    Do you think any sheep outfitter is going to tip off the G&F;about whether the scab obtained a spike camp permit? No, because they themselves don’t…or if they do they get one in another locality than the area intended to be hunted. Why? Because spike camps are real close to where the outfitter hunts for that big sheep. To give the true location gives away to other outfitters, or worse yet private sheep hunters, to where the sheep are.

    And when it is said there are only 2-3 guided sheep hunts per year in Montana tells me there are a lot of hunts out there in Montana designed to not pay the FS or BLM that 3 per cent. In my area alone just one outfitter had 2-4 sheep hunts booked per fall…year after year.

    And finally what about our taxidermist? He also knows all the games by all the “legit” outfitters…the ones out there supposedly wanting to nail him. But taxidermists, especialy on the high end of things, are very dependent on referrals to these fat cats. Rock the boat too much and the heads stop coming in. So you see it is a lot like the Mafia, your son may get murdered but you are not going to tell the law dogs who did it.

    I perdict there will be a lot of questions left unanswered in this case. The status quo will be put back to order and all will be well with little real damage to anyone…..unless there is a wild card thrown in. Who knows…there might be someone out there spill the beans on the whole game…then everybody gets really bruised.

    To start one, how many of you outfitters and guides put down on your applications you have a past game violation on your records? What if you are going to some foreign country…like lets say Mongolia? Are you going to say you got caught poaching? Or just continue paying the bribes?

  91. VTT says:

    romors has it that undercover agent Justin Gibson is a new game warden in Whitehall……wonder if he will get another bighorn sheep tag….

  92. Dean says:

    Maybe he will manage the new FWP Taxidermy there after the trial!

  93. Jeff says:

    Maybe the FWP will have a lotery drawing to see whose office gets to have the sheep hung in ????

  94. Mtdream says:

    Bob,

    The problem for a lt of us, is the heavy handed approach taken by FWP…I have a tremendous amount of friends that are FWP…it is something I have chatted with them about…

    For some of them, there is a switch that turns on, that they believe all hunters are guilty, and it is their job to find out what the hunter is guilty of…

    It is sad…I have very little vacation time because of work, and truly enjoy the woods, and my time in them…I love taking other people, and helping teach them about elk hunting, and what to and not to do…

    However, I am appalled to be treated as a criminal for doing so…I got to extreme lengths to ensure that I do NOTHING wrong…Yet there are certain FWP that get over zealous assuming that the majority or even a large minority are criminals wanting to get one over on the law…

    To me, that is the core issue here…There is a mindset that people (and I know NOTHING about this Leyton guy) are always trying to get away with something, or that most or a lot of hunters dont help with good motives…I cant speak for Leyton or others, all i can speak to is myself…

    I pay for all my horses & hay
    I pay for my gas to and from the hunting area
    I pay for all food while in camp
    I am the one not at work (where I get paid)

    …and yet if a buddy buys me a coke while we are headed back into camp from taking an animal in to the processor, I am guilty of guiding?

    doesnt that seem ridiculous? It does to me, and I have had several friends tell me I am an idiot for refusing to let them buy me a coke…Several times I have had to hide money in their bag just so I knew I did not take ANY money from them…

    I get there are bad apples out there…it is part of life, but the majority of us are not them apples…my plea is to not assume I am before you know…

    which is the same plea most are reacting to on here about Leyton…the evidence leaked or shared has some serious gaps in it, and we can only address that which we have visibility to…

  95. Monty says:

    Well said mtdream, it’s nice to see there are others who like I, also take people for ,God forbid, FREE just like the accused, taking away my personal hunting time to help others. There is great personal fulfillment in that yet some of it is taken away as you constantly have to worry over the same thing that’s happening to these guys happening to you. These guys never were charged or even accused of taking extra animals, animals without proper tags, or any other charge stemming from previous hunts. Years of them investigated by the FWP. They are accused of what many if not all of us have done, helping a sopposed fellow hunter. They are not poachers as Jack Jr keeps throwing out . Not one more sheep died as a result of them helping hunters who had tags, maybe the quality of the rams taken was better but what or who does that hurt other than the outfitters who, if they were doing a good job, would already have their hunters on a good ram. On one blog a landowner/outfitter said “he knew that sheep was there and was darn proud of him”. Does anyone truly believe if an outfitter who makes his living guiding sheep hunters knew a 204 inch ram was around wouldn’t be trying to capitalize on it?! If you had a tag and a guy told you he knew the area and could get you a great ram for free or go with an outfitter for $11,000 dollars that has limited knowledge of the sheep in the area, who would you go with? I have been to the FNAWS(now Wild Sheep) show many years including this past one in February 2009. Many years, INCLUDING this year the MT FWP had a huge poster of John Lewton with a big ram. Even after this “sting”, after the search warrants, etc the FWP was still using Lewton’s photo to promote their sheep program! So where do you think all these big Gov tag buyers get his name? Doesn’t this seem a little hypocritical or just plain wrong to use a guys photo to propagate your big sheep, even as you are trying to bust him for helping with taking big sheep?

  96. bob jackson says:

    mtdream,

    I agree a LOT of game wardens and rangers (in my case Yellowstone) would do well in Hitlers SS Troops world. The reason a lot of them are like this is they do not have a feel for what is happening out there…in otherwords are not savvy to the world of hunting. Thus they intimidate because they are scared.

    The outfitters in my Thorofare area used this common knowledge of law enforcement personnel ineptness to their advantage a lot of times. If a group of private elk hunters came into Thorofare the outfitter would get word to the front country of scab outfitters in their midst. Then within a couple days one could count on first the Game and Fish, then the Forest Service, then the Park Service, then the FWS agent and finally the governors anti scab bounty hunters …all coming into the privates camp over a period of 3-4 days and interrogating this group.

    It worked, the private guys just wanted some time in the back country with their stock and buddies but they would tell me they were never coming back because of all the harassment by law enforcement. Most hunters didn’t even know what the intent of the interrogation was (to figure out illegal outfitters the law dogs would split hunters up, get addresses and try to find discrepencies in their stories of their hunt).

    Since the law dogs couldn’t get the group on scabbing (which they weren’t) they then zeroed in on any violation possible…food not hung high enough, fire not completely out etc.

    I never supported howdy doddy for the whinning of outfitters and I’d try to help out the private hunters deal with the law boys and the outfitters (outfit camps would drag carcasses in behind private camp sites and run private stock off at night). But in the end the privates wouldn’t come back. Why should they?

    If one knows what is going on you don’t have to act this way. I caught a lot of poachers in my day but still went by my first head of law enforcements boss who said, ” use the least amount of law enforcement needed to change a behavioral pattern”. With seasoned poachers the hammer had to come down sometimes. Other times if the guys were young or ignorant and I thought there was a chance they would change I gave lower levels of citations or just cited one instead of the rest of them.

    This is what I did 30 years ago, Monty, for one of your sheep hunting Atcheson family and a friend who poached an elk in the NW corner of the Park during the late hunt. They were well in the Park and were waiting till dark to snowmobile the elk out. They couldn’t take the cold, however, and thus a faint whiff of smoke gave them away. The snow was soft and I skied down behind them without making a sound. Could have thrown the book but a simple poaching sufficed …for then. I always wondered how it affected them. Should I have cited for more? Can anyone ….or Jack tell me?

  97. monty says:

    Who’s the poacher Jack?

  98. Kevin Peterson says:

    As Allen Jones stated, “ As a hunter and conservationist, and according to the information I have available, I must say that the greatest wrongdoing here wasn’t committed by the folks who are being charged.”

    Unfortunately whatever scenario shakes out will not bring the 44 Magnum Ram back to life. FWP has created a public relations nightmare and I’m not sure they have any idea of the monster this has become! This case has gone way beyond the borders of Montana. Once the 44 Magnum Ram email made the rounds, almost a year ago, most of the hunters in North America had either seen or heard about it if they knew a sheep hunter. The bighorn sheep hunting community is a rather small well connected group of which many know of John Lewton, have hunted with him or have seen one of his sheep hunting videos. I guarantee that every Fish & Game Dept that has a bighorn sheep resource is watching this closely and making sure they have the checks and balances in place that would never allow this to happen. I have to believe Eastman’s Journal, Huntin Fool, FNAWS (Wild Sheep Foundation), etc. are all waiting to hear something from FWP so they can report what occurred to their readers/ members. Telling the public almost a year later that they are waiting until the trial is over is the wrong answer.

    Here’s some more info…
    · The ram was tight taped at 204 and change B&C;green, which is within 7/8” of the current MT state record taken by Jim Weatherly in 1993
    · Assuming a dry score of 204 0/8 would rank the ram as # 6 in the Boone & Crockett book taken All Time anywhere, including Canada and the United States. (This is based on the 2005 Boone & Crockett Record Book since the next book to be released will be after 2010)
    · The World Record is 208 3/8 B&C;taken by Guinn Crousen from Luscar Mountain, Alberta, Canada in 2000. The 44 Magnum Ram, as a 7 ½ to 8 1/2 year old, was within 4 1/2” of the World Record, or ~ 2 2/8” per horn or ~ ½” per circumference measurement! That doesn’t even take horn length into consideration!
    · In 1998 and 1999 Sherwin Scott spent $1.1 million for the auction tags to hunt bighorn in Alberta, Canada. He hunted 17 days in 1998 and chose not to shoot a ram and in 1999 he took a ram that scored “in the neighborhood of 205”, which is called the “Million Dollar” Ram on the internet…
    · Last year 3 rams over 200” (including the 44 Magnum Ram) came out of the Missouri River Breaks areas HD 482 and HD 680
    · In the 2008 MT draw statistics there were 2289 applications (1824 resident/ 465 non-res) for the 15 ram tags in HD482 (south side of the river) and 5019 applications (2512 resident/ 2507 non-res) for the 20 ram tags in HD680 (north side of the river). These rams are known to cross the river so both areas are relevant to show hunter demand. That’s a total of 7308 applications for the 35 tags in these 2 units!

    Here’s what I think FWP has to do for damage control:
    · Admit they were wrong, that the agent made a horrible judgment error in the field, and show that the system has been changed so this can never happen again. No one likes to see anyone lose their job so maybe re-assignment for those involved to departments that have nothing to do with big game hunting may be appropriate. Did they really have a kid in his late 20’s in the field as an undercover agent without explicit orders that you do not shoot a ram under any circumstance?
    · Let the public know how much was spent on this entire case as well as who authorized the sheep tag to be issued. Was this tag one of the 20 tags to be issued in the public draw or was it a mysterious 21st tag?
    · If the sheep tag was one of the 20 tags allocated for the public draw, the next person on the alternate list for HD680 for the 2008 hunt should be given a tag for that unit assuming that MT biologists say the herd can support the possible taking of one more ram from that area next year.

    My opinion is that when the dust settles the felony charges will be dropped since they would have never occurred had the FWP undercover agent not shot the ram. Also, a legally taken ram with plugged horns may be sold to whomever the hunter wishes to sell it to. The FWP undercover agent told Lewton he was going to sell it on Ebay, which is a felony by FWP’s own definition of illegal possession and sale of a game animal if in fact the horns were not plugged. Did you also know that the restitution for illegally killing a bighorn sheep is $30,000 as stated in the Montana FWP Hunting Regulations? The alleged misdemeanors of outfitting w/o a license and hunting w/o landowner permission are the only possible charges that FWP can pursue. Neither of which justifies the killing of any ram.

    There is no question that had pictures of this ram been circulated prior to the auction that the tag would have sold for more than $300K. But I feel worse for the average hunter that applied for this tag ($130 resident/ $755 non-resident) and had the same opportunity of taking a world-class ram as someone that could afford $300K and FWP took that away from them! I also applied for this tag and am extremely disappointed.

    I spoke to a sheep hunting friend of mine last night and he suggested that I should wait to put anything on this blog because more info may come out at trial. I said that’s the whole problem here! When it all comes down and the trial is over, if John Lewton is convicted of ANYTHING there is no way this could justify the killing of such a magnificent animal!

  99. Monty says:

    One really interesting point that should be brought to light here is a source very close to the MT FWP revealed that many FWP officers and FWP Biologists are upset this went down as they had a very good working relationship with Lewton over many years and because of the money he brought into the sheep program by helping these hunters get nice sheep. None of these guys had prior violations of any kind. This didn’t just come out of the blue. This was brought on by complaints by outfitters in the area not liking losing business to someone helping the hunters for free. The main one is the one that’s been commenting and condeming them on this thread and the one you mentioned.

  100. bob jackson says:

    Jack,

    What do you say? What is the family story told all these years? Please tell me it was an experience that allowed for improvement of family character. I am hoping so because I’d like to believe some folks do not adjust thinking…but alas, I’d say over 90% of the poachers I ever caught and convicted changed the story for friends and family. Then they got real bitter towards me as the one who did them injustice.

    Wildlife, hunting and game violations has so many emotions and identity of person attached…as witnessed on this whole thread. I guess I am just showing still another side of it. I never fit the law buddy bonding thing and and I never went “native”. Thus, my views probably don’t mesh with most others on “either side”. Such as it is.

  101. monty says:

    Thank you for your input Bob. As stated before, this could happen to any one of us. I agree with Kevin, this thing should be dropped by the FWP. Mistakes were made by both sides but in the name of saving face for everyone involved this would be best recieved by the public if the felony charges were dropped as they are clearly just a thinly veiled attempt to save face for killing the ram.

  102. mysheeptag says:

    Great Article Kevin Peterson….

    I think you should send that to every newspaper in Montana and have it put in the Opinion Section so that sportsman/sportswomen can see the TRUE side of what happened in this case before it goes to trial.

  103. monty says:

    Kevin, Get that out to people. Get it to the FWP or maybe someone should start a letter writing campaign or petition.

  104. mtdream says:

    Bob Jackson,

    I can tell from your note, that you are welcome at my campfire anytime!!!

    Dont know who Jack is that you are referring to, assume there is an inside thing I dont know…which I am fine with not knowing…

    I will post pics in bowsite or huntingnet.com from my upcoming hunt…leaving tomorrow morning…

    Mtdream (who gets to live the Montana Dream)

  105. VTT says:

    good job Kevin Peterson…..you hit the nail on the head,no matter what the outcome is a ram should have never been taken… PERIOD

  106. Chuck Feney says:

    Bob Jackson, Kevin Peterson, and Monty:

    You inputs into this thread are some of the finest citizen reporting I’ve seen in 15 years of blogging. I believe that it’s this kind of input that is making the dead tree media obsolete. Kevin, your recommendations on damage control are spot on. Bob, thanks for your insight into the seamy underside of “legal” outfitting, or as I call it, Game Pimping.

    I remember being in the Bozeman FWP headquarters years ago when an Atcheson brought in a Bighorn ram that he had picked up, I think it was from the Pintlers. It was a very high book ram – over 200 for sure. He brought it in to give to the FWP – I assume this must have been back when possession of a pickup skull was legal because there was lots of glad handing with the FWP boys – and I was later told that his name was in the Boone and Crockett next to it as “picked up by”.

    I’m not implying that the ram was poached by him, but after reading Bob’s narrative, I now can’t help but wonder.

    Some guys will do anything to get their name in the book.

  107. Jack Atcheson Jr. says:

    It is amazing what people will write on a blog, facts just don’t seem to matter any more. I don’t know who this Chuck Keney is but he sure seems to know me. Chuck you need to sample a little truth. First I have not been an outfitter since 2001 and I have never hunted or guided for bighorn rams in the Missouri Breaks. Second you never saw me at the F&G;in Bozeman with a “pick up” sheep. Mt Fish and Game biologist, Mike Frisana of Butte and I found the old ram you reference and Mike turned it over to his office. The ram belongs to the people of Montana and hangs in the Bozeman office. Mt F & G is listed as the owner as it should be. F&G;uses the old ram to promote the sale of the auction tag at conventions each year. It has never been legel to keep a pick up ram head in the state of Montana.

  108. Jack Atcheson Jr. says:

    I guess I missed Bob Jackson’s comment on a poached elk in NW Yellowstone. I think if I was caught and fined for a poaching issue in the park that I would remember it as that is a big deal in my mind. Bob, you have proof and records of this I quess, I demand that you show them to me and all the trusting people reading these written words of yours.

  109. Monty says:

    Your right on people will write anything without the facts Jack. This has been evident in all your posts slandering these men and creating charges like the “Lacey Act” comment which doesn’t even apply here and harping on the use of the plane which was completely legal. Maybe you haven’t guided or aren’t an outfitter in the Mo Breaks but your brother sure is and since he is quoted in news articles pertaining to this case I would say the two of you have a personal issue and interest in this case, thus all your barbed comments in regards to these men who, until this debacle had no previous offences, ever. It’s easy to see how an outfitter in this area that charges $11,500 for guiding a sheep hunt would be dismayed by someone doing it for free or embarrassing them by taking big sheep out from under their noses.

  110. Jack Atcheson Jr says:

    You are confusing me with the other Jack that has been working this issue. I have not written a word about the Lacey act or these accused men.

  111. Monty says:

    Jack Jr,
    If that’s the case and you are not the “other Jack” contributing to this thread then I guess it’s a case of mistaken identity and jumping to conclusions without all the facts just like many have done in this case in condemning the three accused. Everyone makes mistakes and I feel the FWP seriously thought they were going to bust an illegal guiding operation that went back years but after the “sting” found that it was all baseless. That is evident in them stating they had a “four year investigation” yet the only charges filed were from the events of this one “hunt” and even then the only crime MAYBE perpetrated by the accused is the questionable tresspassing. The rest of the charges stem from the shooting of the ram to implicate the accused. I find the biggest travesty, aside from killing the ram, is the way this was all played out through the press and the way they smeared these guys for only marginal charges and with no apparent criminal intent by the accused.

  112. bob jackson says:

    Jack,

    I was trying to be vague on purpose out of respect.
    I had no idea who the Atchenson’s were when I caught one and friend in Daly Creek with the elk. The game wardens patrolling this hunt then looked at the citation I brought back to the road and said the person on the citation was the son of the sheep outfitter from Butte or was it Anaconda?. Same name they said…. I took the …(or was it your brother if you have one?)….picture with the elk (think it was a five point) for my case incident report. I still have a copy of it…as well as my case incidents for my poaching cases. The Park also keeps this info on file. It also is recorded in the stations backcountry log book. Do you want me to dig it out of the attic? By the tenor of your response it leads me to believe you want me to show my cards. Do you think I am bluffing with this info?…. Call me on it and then if I have it I post it for you to see….

    But the intent of me not looking is not for any of these options.

    I do wonder, however, why you can remember every facet of the guy who brought the sheep head in but don’t know if you remember if it was you in the Park. Two possibilities, Trying to set, what you allude to for the public as, a trap? Or do you want to see what info I have…kinda like Bill Clinton did with waiting to see if the dress really was stained…before you then can claim injustice?

    I guess I am getting older and you must be to. I know there actually are certain advantages to being over 60.

    Both young guys that day were crying and cold. That is the picture from my camera I have, though I don’t know if the tears can be seen. Both admitted to shooting this animal in the Park and one said it was a wait till dark to go back and get the snowmobile. It was because of this immediate confession I didn’t throw the book.

    The game wardens said I should have, seeings who it was. They, I remember, were pretty impressed I caught a “professional”. My way of thinking at the time said these guys were at an age that was impressionable. Hammer them and it could just make them bitter.

    It was worth the chance to actually see if behavior could be changed. I had to temper this with knowing the outfitting infrastructure they supposedly came from meant there was also a chance they were seasoned beyond their years.

    At that time of my career I thought tears very much showed remorse. Come to know, all but one of my poachers cried..and the one who didn’t was an outfitter I caught twice…once for poaching an elk and then a few years later, for poaching a Mt. Lion. He was a clinical pathological liar, I’d say.

    The crying in most cases, I finally figured out was the result of all their energy being exhausted in a very stressful “interview” with me. Most all had an alibi but when it got down to the nitti gritty and the hours wore on in the interigation…. and proof of reasoning didn’t match ….. it would fall apart for them.

    There was no alibi in the particular late hunt Gallatin case we are talking of. That is why I didn’t start confiscating guns etc.

    I can’t remember for sure but I think I wrote that illegal hunting citation with the lead end of my 44 cartridge. It was so cold my govt. pen wouldn’t work.

    My question to myself in the earlier post was did my “leniency” have good effect? It needed a response for both. My “seasoning” through the years made for knowing in retrospect I sometimes was too lenient…but then again I’d rather be “taken, than get cynical in life.

    You might wonder, why don’t I go upstairs and then see the name … then show in bold letters for all out there in this post? And if it wasn’t then I can still save face by writing in a way to sidetrack….or not respond at all.

    I don’t know for sure but I think it has to do with life being too short for leading on a person too far so it exposes them too much. as long as they …and I know…so life is objective for those involved. We need it, I believe, for the future of all to be better attained. Too many illusionary beliefs…and either those idolizing can’t live up to false standards or the one doing the illusion starts beliving it themselves.

    I did so much of the “play it dumb at first” to get so many confessions later. My supervisor once told a class I was like a dumb fox when it came to questioning those in the outfitting business. it worked only because those guys were arrogant and thought of rangers as “ninety day wonders”. I say, bring up the past so all of us objectively remembers their history, but then leave it to them (us) to deal with to be a better person.

    If you are not outfitting anymore then it is no different in impact to wildlife than all the other outfitters I patrolled on and then left the field.

    That day in the Gallatin in the Park I saw as private individuals. The game wardens saw it as outfitters. It would have been a boost to my career public relations wise to hype this incident as the game wardens protrayed this to be. (In fact even though I was known for my poacher catching there were a lot of cases I cited for “loaded firearm” when it could have been just as easily a locked in case as poaching). I always looked at intent as number one. For someone to be “fat, dumb and happy as some were didn’t warrant another notch on my 44.

    Jack, I appreciate you responding. Know you can either come out and firmly with all conviction, say it was not you or anyone from your family, say it was you or someone in your family…or not say anything at all. Any of those possibilities is ok with me. I don’t know, in this case maybe the kids shouldn’t know.

    I am a little concerned with your response, however, as stated before. It is logical and predictable, I guess. I just ask that you don’t respond by saying, “It depends on what the definition of “is”
    is?” …if it was you.

  113. Chuck Feney says:

    Jack Atcheson:
    I never have been to the Butte FWP office – didn’t even know that an office was in Butte. I surely didn’t see you at the Butte office.

    It was you that brought that Bighorn Ram pick up head into the Bozeman FWP office on 19th St. that afternoon to get plugged.

    I remember it because it was the biggest sheep head I had ever seen at that time.

    I stand by my story. I have no reason to lie about this matter.

  114. Jack Atcheson Jr says:

    To Bob and Chuck

    Bob,

    First, my father was never a sheep outfitter, I was a sheep outfitter and I have no children.

    Second, it was not me that you took a photo of in the Gallatin and I have never had any fish and game violation anywhere!

    Chuck,

    The pick up ram you mention was found in 1992. It has hung in the Bozeman F & G office since. Why would I be plugging a ram that belongs to the State of Montana? I did outfit hunters for sheep in region 2,3 and 5 and all the hunters that took rams would have their rams plugged. Some of the rams were dandy’s and you may have seen one of those rams.

    I beleive in fair chase hunting, I beleive in ethical hunting, I beleive in following the game laws.

  115. monty says:

    Jack Jr.
    A point to be made here is doesn’t it suck when YOU’RE the one being accused of stuff?

  116. Jack Atcheson Jr. says:

    Monty,

    I does suck, I am going hunting and get away from this machine.

  117. Monty says:

    I think that’s exactly how Lewton, Reed, and Trangmoe must feel. If you’re going hunting with someone just make sure it’s not the FWP!

  118. monty says:

    Or in Yellowstone!

  119. bob jackson says:

    Evidently my post didn’t get recorded. I have to get ready to deliver meat out West so I guess it all can wait.

    In the mean time some thoughts for perusal. It appears to me Jack is either a man of few words or rather the things he chooses to address are incomplete in a deflective sort of way. What does Jacks lack of kids have to do with the question I had of him or his BROTHER…if he has one.

    Dad not an outfitter of sheep? Guess Jack just took it up on his own. A more persuasive response would have been that his dad does not hunt sheep. (The game wardens I talk of also told me they were trying to catch “these” Anaconda (Butte) guys (as identified on my citation) for sheep stuff. That is why they were so high fiving and wanted me to do more in my case on Daly). Are they the same guys? Maybe we will find out.

    I know a number of elk outfitters who are opportunistic guides of sheep hunters. They just don’t call themselves outfitters of sheep. Thus they get away from paying that commission to the feds. I suppose I could look all this up on the internet (outfitters names and family association etc.), but sometimes it is better to approach with a open mind. Did Jacks dad hunt sheep? Or is Jack, just mighty proud of the sheep he acquired for his hunters, independent of what he wants to show his dad….if he was also an outfitter?

    Third, the declaration he and the biologist finding the sheep skull together means both names ought to be on that plaque. Why wasn’t it?

    More,…but when I get back I will go into what a hypothetical case, as the information now given presents itself, would illicit from me if I was in the “field”. And I wish Jack hadn’t been, what appears to be, so deflective. But then again, maybe, just maybe, he is a bit segmented in his mind…as well as a Lois La’mour man of few words.

  120. Mtdream says:

    bob you kill me… :)

    several of my friends in the Region 3 offices are probably friends or acquaintances…Fred King, Harry Whitney etc.

    good people, always enjoy my time with them!!!

    look forward to someday sharing a cup of coffee with you, who knows, maybe someday while in camp…

  121. Perry Mason says:

    Here’s the Montana Outfitiing Laws

    37-47-101. Definitions. As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions apply:
    (1) “Accompany” means to go with or be together with a participant as an escort, companion, or other service provider, with an actual physical presence in the area where the activity is being conducted and within sight or sound of the participant at some time during the furnishing of service.
    (2) “Base of operations” means the primary physical location where an outfitter receives mail and telephone calls, conducts regular daily business, and bases livestock, equipment, and staff during the hunting season.
    (3) “Board” means the board of outfitters provided for in 2-15-1773.
    (4) “Camp” means each individual facility or group of facilities that an outfitter uses to lodge a client for a client’s trip or uses to lodge a client in the operating area designated in the outfitter’s operations plan, including a motel, campground, bed and breakfast, lodge, tent camp, cabin, camper, trailer, or house.
    (5) “Consideration” means something of value given or done in exchange for something of value given or done by another.
    (6) “Department” means the department of labor and industry provided for in Title 2, chapter 15, part 17.
    (7) “Guide” means a person who is employed by or who has contracted independently with a licensed outfitter and who accompanies a participant during outdoor recreational activities that are directly related to activities for which the outfitter is licensed.
    (8) “License year” means the period indicated on the face of the license for which the license is valid.
    (9) “Net client hunter use” or “NCHU” means the most actual clients served by an outfitter in any NCHU license category in any license year, as documented by verifiable client logs or other documents maintained by the board pursuant to 37-47-201.
    (10) “Nonresident” means a person other than a resident.
    (11) “Outfitter” means any person, except a person providing services on real property that the person owns for the primary pursuit of bona fide agricultural interests, who for consideration provides any saddle or pack animal; facilities; camping equipment; vehicle, watercraft, or other conveyance; or personal service for any person to hunt, trap, capture, take, kill, or pursue any game, including fish, and who accompanies that person, either part or all of the way, on an expedition for any of these purposes or supervises a licensed guide or professional guide in accompanying that person.
    (12) “Participant” means a person using the services offered by a licensed outfitter.
    (13) “Professional guide” means a guide who meets experience, training, and testing qualifications for designation as a professional guide, as set by board rule.
    (14) “Resident” means a person who qualifies for a resident Montana hunting or fishing license under 87-2-102.

    History: Ap. p. Sec. 1, Ch. 221, L. 1971; amd. Sec. 37, Ch. 511, L. 1973; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 9, L. 1977; Sec. 26-908, R.C.M. 1947; Ap. p. Sec. 69, Ch. 173, L. 1917; re-en. Sec. 3748, R.C.M. 1921; re-en. Sec. 3748, R.C.M. 1935; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 173, L. 1949; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 184, L. 1951; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 223, L. 1955; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 541, L. 1975; amd. Sec. 16, Ch. 9, L. 1977; Sec. 26-904, R.C.M. 1947; R.C.M. 1947, 26-904(1), 26-908; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 170, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 545, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 410, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 528, L. 1987; Sec. , MCA 1985; redes. by Sec. 11, Ch. 528, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 565, L. 1989; amd. Sec. 38, Ch. 16, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 328, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 543, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 142, Ch. 483, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 97, Ch. 467, L. 2005.

    87-3-116. Outfitting without license — penalties — disposition of fines. (1) A person commits the offense of outfitting without a license if the person purposely or knowingly engages in outfitting while not licensed pursuant to Title 37, chapter 47, or purposely or knowingly violates a licensing rule adopted under Title 37, chapter 47. A violation of this subsection is punishable by a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000, imprisonment in the county jail for up to 1 year, or both.
    (2) A person or entity that represents to any other person, any entity, or the public that the person or entity is an outfitter and who commits the offense of outfitting without a license, as provided in subsection (1), for any portion of 5 or more days for consideration within 1 calendar year for any person or for consideration valued in excess of $5,000 is punishable by a fine of not more than $50,000, imprisonment in the state prison for up to 5 years, or both.
    (3) (a) In addition to the penalties set out in subsection (1), a person who is convicted of violating subsection (1) loses all hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and permits and shall forfeit all hunting, fishing, and trapping license privileges in this state for a period set by the court.
    (b) In addition to the penalties provided in subsection (2), a person who is convicted of violating subsection (2) loses all hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and permits and shall forfeit all hunting, fishing, and trapping license privileges in this state for a minimum of 5 years.
    (c) The department shall notify the person of any loss of privileges as imposed by the court, and the person shall surrender all licenses and permits, as ordered by the court, within 10 days of notification.
    (d) A sentencing court that imposes a period of license revocation pursuant to subsection (3)(a) or (3)(b) shall consider and may impose any of the following conditions during the period of revocation:
    (i) prohibiting the offender from participating in any hunting, fishing, or trapping endeavor as a hunter, angler, trapper, scout, guide, observer, or assistant;
    (ii) prohibiting the offender from brokering or participating in any lease of property for hunting, fishing, or trapping, either personally or through an agent or representative;
    (iii) prohibiting the offender from participating in any seminar or show that is designed to promote hunting, fishing, or trapping;
    (iv) prohibiting the offender from purchasing or possessing any hunting, fishing, or trapping permits; and
    (v) any other reasonable condition or restriction that is related to the crime committed or that is considered necessary for the rehabilitation of the offender or for the protection of the citizens or wildlife of this state.
    (4) A person convicted of outfitting without a license shall reimburse the full amount of any fees received to the person to whom illegal outfitting services were provided.
    (5) As used in this section, “consideration” is defined as remuneration given in exchange for outfitting services supplied predicated on a business relationship between parties. This does not include reimbursement for shared trip expenses.
    (6) (a) As used in this section, “outfitting” means providing hunting or fishing services for consideration, including any saddle or pack animal, facilities, camping equipment, personal service, or vehicle, watercraft, or other conveyance for any person to hunt, fish, trap, capture, take, kill, or pursue any game, including fish. The term includes accompanying that person, either part or all of the way, on an expedition for any of these purposes or supervision of a licensed guide or professional guide in accompanying that person.
    (b) The term does not include the provision of the services listed in subsection (6)(a) by a person on real property that the person owns for the primary pursuit of bona fide agricultural interests.

    History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 445, L. 2007.

  122. Laird says:

    I have been following this case with considerable interest. I am an outdoor writer. I aways try to keep track of issues in Montana.This case is interesting from many different perspectives. I have seen photos now of another trophy ram taken in the same area of the Missouri Breaks mostly federal public land by some of the same players. The photo shows no hunter orange on the hunter,I wonder why. He doesn’t seem pleased with the sheep he isn’t smiling. A live sheep photo with another photo cap appears to be taken from a low flying aircraft, a spot plane I would think. I thought Montana had laws, state and federal on how low an aircraft is allowed to fly and need for a flight plan. Montana also has a Hotline Tip toll free number 1-800-TIP-Mont(1-800-847-6668) for reporting possible game violations. We have a similar law here. This sheep hunt,two now in the same area seems strange at the least.I understand this will all be determined in a court case with witnesses about violations and charges. From what I can tell the state seems to have a strong case although the evidence has not been presented in court yet.I plan to be there for my article.I should talk to the federal land agencies to see if and motorized vehicles were used.Who is doing the taxidermy work on both rams I would like to photograph the rams there does anyone know?

    Montana also has a Statute MCA 37-47-101 on outfitting laws found in my research.Bighorn sheep are a real treasure and privilege species to hunt and a limited resource.We can ill afford to have trophies taken illegally if that is the case here.The second sheep taken in the same area by some of the same players should be closely scutinized by MDFWP. The more I read about this the more I become interested for a feature article in a national hunting magazine.I will continue to follow this case closely and perhaps talk with federal personnel responsible for federal laws in the same area.

  123. Wow says:

    Laird,
    The second ram photo you speak of was from a sheep taken this year and the second live photo is taken through a spotting scope. The ram was found on foot by glassing and not even ATVs were used. Hunter orange makes for horrible photos and the hunt was filmed including the kill shot with the hunter wearing his hunter orange. Don’t jump to conclusions unless you know the facts.

  124. monty says:

    Success by some breeds speculation and envy from others. The Govenor’s tag buyer has hired an out of state outfitter and one of the other wealthy non-resident tag holders has hired a different outfitter. Both are hunting the MO Breaks area. They have leased up lots of ground. They have numerous men on the ground and an airplane in the air at almost all times and neither have killed a sheep. Yet these guys walk in 10 miles on foot and kill a monster ram out from under the noses of the outfitters again. No airplanes, no atvs, and no money as Lewton helped the hunter for free again. Who would you go with?

  125. Laird says:

    Is spotting game with an aircraft a common thing in Montana? What happened to fair chase hunts?The average hunter cannot afford to hire aircraft anyway. B/C measurements can only be made for fair chase hunts I believe. I guess it would be quite a walk to cover the entire Missouri Breaks on foot glassing for sheep.That could take days maybe even weeks but it would be fair chase. What about other sheep hunters in the same area? Guess they were on the wrong trail. Did they camp on the trail and carry all that equipment? Tent,sleeping bags,food,water? Amazing! Does anyone know where the sheep heads are to photograph for my article?

  126. Laird says:

    Thanks for posting all that information Perry Mason. That is what I found out to. Where are the Montana Guide and Outfitters Association on this issue now? I would really like to interview those who became aware of problems down there and requested an investigation by MFWP.Where did this all occur in the Mo. Breaks? I will need this for my article.I have some BLM maps now and will mark the area when I find out.Sure would like to go down there and photograph the area. Perhaps BLM there could help me.

  127. mtdream says:

    I smell a troll…

    Laird,

    I find it VERY hard to believe your a journalist for a national hunting magazine…if so, please inform us of the magazine (s)

    Surely you would like to promote the magazine, and the articles…shoot us some links…

  128. Monty says:

    Laird and other doubters,
    Laird you of all people, if you are indeed a outdoor writer, ought to understand Lewton’s position in this. Your passion must be hunting and you write about it. Do you ever write about other hunter’s hunts? John Lewton’s passion is filming hunts. Not guiding, outfitting or anything illegal. If any of you want proof check out his sheep videos Bighorn Rams I,II,III, Great Rams of Asia, or Double Slam. They are the finest hunting videos let alone sheep hunting videos I’ve ever seen. Call Outdoor Visions, they are a national hunting video distributor and ask them what their best selling sheep tape of all time is? Great Rams of Asia by John Lewton. Cabelas sells them also or at least used too. I’ve personally had to buy more than one set of these as I get them and loan them out and seem to never get them back! They show Lewton’s respect for sheep and his videoing ability is second to none. I challenge any of you calling these men poachers and criminals to watch Bighorn Rams II or Great Rams of Asia and see if you don’t change your veiw of Lewton. He has filmed hunts all over the world but how ironic when he films hunts in his home state of Montana he’s a criminal for doing so.

  129. Wow says:

    Laird,
    The sheep this year the hunter and Lewton walked in 10 miles glassing as they went, spotted the ram, shot the ram and packed it out all in one day in 97 degree heat. Maybe that’s why the hunter’s not smiling!

  130. Monty says:

    I personally find the only problem with Lewton filming hunts is he hasn’t come out with a new tape in 10 years! HMMM, I guess that leaves him doing it for money out too doesn’t it? Maybe he just loves to film sheep hunts. What a criminal.

  131. Laird says:

    Where can I order some tapes and have them shipped priority mail when I return to the office? Thanks for any help.

  132. Mtdream says:

    Lets hear it Laird…what magazines?

    If your a journalist, your accusatory, and slanted journalistic view clearly would make me question whether you are a “National Hunting Magazine” writer…

    Based upon your clear slant, and obvious mistakes in the path to “research” shows some significant selective logic and application of research, which would make me think, that if you are a journalist, your probably a political journalist…more than likely a Blogger for some great news media outlet like MSNBC…

    As a side note to others, a very good friend of mine was hunting in the same area with Lewton and White (the guys hunting this year) and they had NOTHING but nice things to say about Lewton and the time they spent with them…I am sure this whole topic came up, as My friend is NOT someone to shy from joking about or addressing the issue…Rumor has it this new Ram is a MONSTER as well…I have pics cant post them here though…

  133. Laird says:

    MT DREAM send address I will be pleased to send you a few articles and copies of a few magazines..no charge to you of course.

  134. burlygirl says:

    I just posted the photo of Lewton with the 205 green score sheep at Bowsite.com

  135. Nancy says:

    RAM IS NOT A 205!
    I want to inform the hunting public of the correct measurements on this so called 205 ram taken by Mr. White with John Lewton’s assistance. These are the measurement off the Harvest Form in Montana.

    Right 43 1/8 16 2/8 15 7/8 14 4/8 11 4/8
    Left 43 1/8 16 1/8 15 6/8 14 5/8 10 7/8
    less deductions 200 6/8 official green score.

    I question why the hunters and helpers have embellished the score on this ram?

  136. Nancy says:

    I would like to tell Monty that the Governor Hunter for sheep in Montana did kill is ram on opening day. Rumor has it the green score is about 197. If the other wealthy hunter you are speaking of is the Super Tag hunter or another non-resident in unit 680, they are not hunting with the use of an airplane, atv’s, radio’s, etc. The have not taken their rams, that is correct. One of them hasn’t even hunted yet.

    In reference to the 10 miles, if they came in from the river as was suggested, it might be 3 miles at most as the crow flies. Verified by looking at the map and the area they said was the kill site. They must have been walking in circles to rack 10 miles.

  137. mtdream says:

    no thanks, just post links, so we can all enjoy…

  138. Wow says:

    Nancy the sheep expert. The ram green scored three times right at 205. The F&G;measure a little differently and usually aren’t real accurate. We will see when it’s officially scored but if you check Lewton’s record he can score rams. And the distance traveled was tracked on GPS. And there is no “as a crow flies” when hunting in rugged country. And if you’re actually hunting instead of walking a straight line “as a crow flies ” is pretty much insignificant.

  139. Monty says:

    Why Nancy you seem to have your panties in a knot! As Wow stated I’d trust the score more than the FWP score. And why try to discredit a beautiful trophy? Can’t anyone be happy for a hunter that drew a legitimate tag and hiked in and killed a beautiful ram regardless of whether it’s 205 or 200! My God get a grip here. The same thing happened when Denny Austed and Doyle Moss killed the new world record elk. Everyone cried and whined and they even DNA tested the bull. Does jealousy run so deep? I’d give body parts to actually draw a sheep tag let alone shoot a ram like either of these being discussed. And I’m still happy for this guy! Congratulations to both of them.

  140. Laird says:

    Thanks for posting the accurate information Nancy. I guess we will all find out sooner or later. I thought it was common knowledge that certain MFWP employees do official B/C measurements as Idaho.They have much experience with B/C measurements. Also MFWP publishes a B/C record booklet for Montana every few years or so I have a few here. I would believe them Nancy.

  141. Monty says:

    Laird,
    I’m sure SOME Fwp employees know how to score and score acurately, many do not. So snuggle with Nancy but it’s a great ram all the same. And Nancy, you sound like you’ve been snuggling with some outfitters or something?

  142. Chuck Feney says:

    Mr Twister:
    Are you carrying a rifle or bow when you pursue these wily ewes, or are you wearing hip boots and velcro gloves!

    “Honest warden, I was just trying to push her thru the barb wire fence!”

    The fact that FWP allows ewes to be harvested from that premier trophy district rather than used for an ongoing state and region wide transplant program is a part of FWP’s management program I strongly disagree with.

  143. Chuck Feney says:

    Laird:
    If you’re an outdoor writer, I’m the Pope.
    Go back to your desk at PETA, troll!

    If I had to make a life or death decision to choose between a Bighorn measurement taken by John Luten or camp cook Nancy’s favorite warden, I’ll trust Luten every time.

  144. Monty says:

    Mr Twister,
    Nobody said meat hunting is inferior. Anybody that hunts and hunts legally should be on the same page and stick together. We have enough problems with anti-hunters without fighting amongst ourselves. And I think that’s the whole disappointing thing here. The outfitters are pointing fingers at Lewton, people are pointing at the outfitters and everyone is pointing at the FWP. The whole mess just didn’t need to happen. And that ram would be proudly in the record books along with these other great Montana Rams and on display in a very happy hunters home instead of being the center of controversy and just evidence.

  145. Laird says:

    Chuck I have been a hunter all my life since ten years old,71 now. I grew up in Montana and hunted many areas all over Montana for years including the breaks and also Alaska and elsewhere. I still hunt every year. I am a gun owner and always have been. Perhaps I’ve hunted and shot more than you. All my articles are pro-hunting and pro wildlife management of a public resource. No, I am not with PETA and far from a left liberal. Your comments are childish and insulting. Perhaps you need a new outlook on life. I heard from many like you over the years who provide little more ‘lip service’ for hunting and wildlife but when it comes to doing something for the resource including access to the wildlife resource you fall far short and do nothing. Hunting ethics and honesty not selfish greed is something you must learn from years of experience. I am not sure what you write or can write. Your ‘lip service’ bothers me little and I write it off as immature and uneducated slander. I have written more than you will ever know and I take no time wasting or defending and explaining it to an immature person as yourself.

  146. Mr. Twister says:

    And here is another Finey, If there where any more available habitat in MT F&G;would use it. Tell me where you got your wildlife degree. Was it Field and Stream? God, I hate trophy hunters! You give us all a bad name. Now we have F&G;and the Gov whoring tags to the highest bidder. All to walk up and shoot tame sheep…see, I’ve been there and done that. Any idiot can walk up and shoot these sheep, they have no fear. I would challenge anyone to refute that fact.

  147. Mr. Twister says:

    and finely something a bit more costructive.
    Had sheep steak this evening:
    Roll your steaks in spiced floor (any game will work) in fact no one here will ever eat 3 y.o. sheep I’m sure. Anyway, after you have flipped them pour a broth of equal parts single malt, butter, cream and a pinch of tyme you have heated on the side, onto the steaks be careful your pan isn’t too hot. We had ours with chard, spiced potatoes, and stewed tomatoes. We are into our second bottle of Malbec and the hot tube is about right…see ya.

  148. Laird says:

    Nothing wrong with harvesting female animals with legal permits from drawings. I have seen more hunting ethics and honesty from more meat hunters than I have witnessed on this post.

  149. Monty says:

    Dang Mr Twister, here I just stuck up for you meat hunting and you go and slam trophy hunters! I will have to disagree with you on the point of the sheep being tame. Maybe the ewes are that “tame” and a few rams during the rut, but these big trophy rams get a hint they’re being hunted and they’re gone! How about it Jack, Kboy, Chuck, Kevin, even Nancy, surely if you hunt sheep or know them you’ll agree with me on this one! And Laird, you don’t have to cite your credentials but if you are truly a professional writer I would hope you would do more fact gathering and be less biased until all the facts come out. Remember the FWP used the media to state their case and throw the first punch. The accused have had no rebuttle other than through threads such as this by people sticking up for them. What if that first headline would have read “Montana FWP Shoots Record Ram in Botched Sting Operation” How many opinions would automatically have swayed the other way? Unfortunately we as a public are sheep. We believe what the press or our Govt. throws out, without sometimes seeing, hearing, or finding out the real truths and facts. Now the FWP says they can’t comment. Well they sure didn’t have a problem commenting the first time! The three accused didn’t get that opportunity.

  150. Chuck Feney says:

    Mr. Twister:
    How about replanting a herd back into the Elkhorns, where some goat farmer released feral goats and diseased the last successful herd.
    How about the Crazies? Little Snowies?

    Until we get the right to put out medicated licks, there will be sheep die offs and there will be a need for replantation. That herdwould be better utilized for transplant stock due to the relative ease of capture in that district.

    And yes, Monty, mature bighorn rams take off at the first hint of danger, but unlike elk or mulies, they almost never stop to see what the danger was. They behave more like whitetail bucks out of the rut.

  151. Laird says:

    I have heard and read all this ‘crap’ as I can stand. No more smoke screens and diversions to confuse the readers.When and where is the trial(s) be held and when will all ‘evidence’ presented? We don’t have the evidence here and shouldn’t and that will be for the Court to decide from the ‘evidence’. No more comments from me until the trial begins. Lets all see what laws/regulations were violated and what action will be taken.Sting operations have been successful in other cases in Montana and elsewhere. I would like to be there.

  152. Chuck Feney says:

    Mr. Twister:

    I just reread your comment about “taking” the ewes.

    I assume you are using that word in the biblical sense.

  153. Monty says:

    Aahhh, boy Chuck what a beautiful night. I think Laird had to go change his depends or something, Nancy is snuggling with some outfitter, and Mr Twister is in the hot tub with his ewe. I think I’m going to bed.

  154. Mr. Twister says:

    No actually I said tube… ‘night girls.

  155. Laird says:

    Could it be the idiots on here have never shot a trophy ram themselves just illegal outfitting/guiding and disguised as photographic ventures and ‘free bee’ hunts, so called. Looks that way to me. Walked 10 miles in a circle the breaks is only 3 miles wide? Wonder if all that meat spoiled in the 10 mile circle walk at 97 degrees? Let see now how the Judge and jury look at the first venture?
    Bye!

  156. Monty says:

    Laird,
    I think you better go take your meds, you’re getting a little wound up. Lots of people jump at the opportunity to go on any limited draw hunt as they have either only gotten to go once as it’s once in a lifetime tag or they’ve never drawn a tag themselves. Lots of people accompany hunters on hunts for sheep, goats, moose, and even bison, etc. because they want to enjoy the hunt and a species they might never get to hunt themselves or once if they’re extremely lucky. Are you seriously going to tell me anyone on here hasn’t accompanied someone on a hunt or even fishing when you yourself didn’t hold a tag for that species just so you could go and enjoy it or help out? I know I have and I can’t think of any hunters who haven’t. This is the same thing these men are accused of only they were unfortunate the hunter who asked them to go help was a FWP agent. Could have been any of us.

  157. wow says:

    Laird,
    The breaks might only be 3 miles wide in spots but how long? I’d say 100 miles or close to it and there are canyons that meander off the river for miles. And that’s all beside the point. Can’t anybody just be happy for and give credit to a nice ram?! And on another note, how many on this thread watch hunting shows or videos? Now how many of those are filming their own hunts? So are you telling me all those camera men are illegal outfitters and poachers? Holy Cow! We’ve uncovered a worldwide criminal ring of illegal outfitting! Oh that’s rediculous you say? My point exactly.

  158. Kboy says:

    Oh what a wild run this has taken in the last month. Who would have thought it could have gone on soooooo long? Long enough for Mr. Lewton to accompany another hunter on another great hunt. I guess it showed us that the FWP agent did NOT shoot the biggest ram in the bunch. So it is no longer just a question of him ‘helping’ out a friend on a hunt. It has become the question of a licensed taxidermist accompanying almost every tag holder in a district (most of which he has never met before) and providing some ‘favors’ to assist (or guide, if you wish) each hunter to find large rams that he keeps constant tabs on by land and by air and he then accepts some sort of payment for the ‘favor’ of spotting, flying, cooking or doing their laundry. Once or twice is a nice guy helping his buddies, 3 or 4 is an obsessed nice guy, 5 is a guy thinking he should be doing this or a living, any more is a guy who probably is doing it for a living!

  159. Monty says:

    Kboy! Nice to have you back, I guess. Have you not watched Lewton’s videos? Yes he films hunts, but he doesn’t take things from the guys for filming them he’s just happy to go and film them. If you check he’s filmed hunts all over the world. So yes he’s went with more than a couple guys. And yes he is a taxidermist and yes he is a videographer. So if he takes guys for free for the privaledge of filming their hunt that’s wrong? There is no refuting and no one is denying he’s filmed lots of hunts. I think the first video of his I watched is from the mid nineties. So the FWP did this big undercover operation, Searched all his records, interveiwed previous hunters he’s gone with and came up with no charges, but I guess they just needed you to convict him because he’s cramping your style. Don’t you think they would have found something if he was doing all this illegal activity you’ve named? No, they only filed charges stemming from the ram the FWP killed.

  160. Wow says:

    Kboy Lewton has filmed hundreds of hunts. I would say that he does do it for a living, wouldn’t you. I know that’s hard to figure out because he’s obviosly hid it so well with his tapes even available even through Cabelas! So as an outfitter, you outfit a guy and he wants you to film his hunt does that make you an illegal videographer? As a videographer does it not make sense to go with hunters on their hunts and film them for free to get footage? Is that so unbelievable? I think the MTFWP made a mistake by killing this ram to get charges, but I feel they were pressured into it by the outfitters. The bad thing is if Lewton is proven innocent the FWP are going to take the heat for it not the outfitters who pushed for it.

  161. Nancy says:

    Before I make my comments I want to say the ram taken by Mr. Patrick White is a magnificent trophy ram. There is no question this is an outstanding specimen. It is one that every hunter would be extremely proud of. Congratulations are extended to Mr. White.

    My comments are this……Accurate scoring of trophy rams is in the hands of the person doing the measuring. Most hunters are familiar with Boone and Crockett scoring and this has been the standard way of measurement for many years. It would seem to me that we have a pretty wide spread of difference between Mr. John Lewton’s score of 205 and the measurements off the Montana Game Department Harvest Form of 200 6/8. I suggest that this alleged 205 ram has been given this number so the claim can be made that it was a new state record ram. Mr. White and Mr. Lewton say it is 1/8 more than the Mr. Jim Weatherly ram that scored 204 7/8 Official B&C;, after the 60 day drying period. Is it possible the White ram will not shrink, even 1/8 of an inch? I’m willing to make a friendly wager that at the end of the day the B&C;judging panel will score this ram at less than 200 B&C;official points. Any takers?

    The ram taken by the FWP officer in 2008 (the 44 Magnum Ram) of which there is so much controversy over and Mr. Lewton was a part of, was also alleged to be some kind of record ram. Eventually we will all learn this was also an inaccurate claim. The largest ram taken in Montana in 2008 was by Ms. Toni Sannon, scoring 204 2/8. And, the runner up ram was taken by Ms. Deb Perry, scoring 202 7/8. Both scores are after the 60 day drying period and are official and were taken in the Missouri Breaks.

    I would suggest we will see another inaccurate claim by Mr. Lewton and parties of another record ram yet this year as he is likely helping another hunter. The hunter’s last name is “Trangmoe” (any relation to Blake Trangmoe?) in Unit 680 in the Missouri Breaks. Perhaps his ram will be inaccurately claimed to be a 205 1/8.

    My point is, there are those out there that make inaccurate claims and placement of record status on these great trophy rams and until they have been officially measured they need not be embellished. Record claims should be deserved and awarded to the actual record rams. I also believe that all bighorn rams taken legally and by Fair Chase Standards are trophy rams in the eyes of the beholder.

    Stay tuned for my disappointment of using aircraft for spotting big game.

  162. Chuck Feney says:

    Nancy:
    You’ll have to come up with a better recipe than that.
    Keep on cookin’!

  163. Chuck Feney says:

    What we have here , at it’s essence, is FWP acting as a control mechanism for the outfitting industry.

    In this case, the outfitters of the 680 area conspired with local wardens to eliminate what they perceived was their “competition”, even though that individual was not taking any money for his services.

    FWP has been reduced to muscle for the game pimps.

  164. Wow says:

    Nancy dear just go back to bed with the outfitter from Butte or Idaho,whichever one your with, they’ll maybe kill a big ram someday. Until then I wouldn’t try to knock either of these rams as I’m pretty sure you haven’t had a tape on either of them. And yes the two largest rams “on the reports” are the two rams you mentioned but I bet if you check the one killed by the FWP isn’t on there. By the way, don’t even try to pretend the outfitters don’t fly the units. Nice try Nanc but your slip is showing.

  165. Mark Brown says:

    Nancy, Mr.Lewton is also an official scorer, with SCI
    You were not present when Mr. White’s Ram was green measured. I know you were not. You need to be quiet. You are making statements as facts, you do not know the facts. You tell us to wait for the official score, it is you that should stop talking and wait.

  166. Chuck Feney says:

    Nancy:
    Let’s face it girl – the big outfitters in 680 once again got shown up by an “amateur non-professional”, and the best is yet to come.

    Despite leasing half of Choteau county and a motorized entourage of Royal safari proportions, the “FAT CAT” bwana big money tag holder settled for a ram in the 188 range. Seems he had bigger fish to fry in another state.

    Imagine that -350 K+ spent for a second rate trophy.

  167. Nancy says:

    Mr. Feney,
    If you are referring to the Governor Tag holder, (Jim Liautaud, aka Jimmy Johns, know as JJ the Sandwich Man) assisted by Jon Barker of Idaho, yes he did spend $245,000 for his permit. With his scouting, flying, outfitting, flying, guiding, flying, more flying and land lease expenses it certainly could have reached 350K+. I only know of one land lease (Mr. Bill Brown) that he had. There could be other land leases. If you have factual information of the leases maybe they should be brought public. As for the score on his ram, I heard according to the land owner, that his ram was in the 197 range. I certainly question the accuracy of this report from this land owner. As for being the Fat Cat, I agree on the Fat part.
    With the tag held by Mr. Trangmoe, assisted by John Lewton, it could be the next 205 1/8. But there are two additional non-residents that are yet to hunt, as well as the lady hunter that is hunting now. She could get as nice a ram as last year’s lady hunters officially measuring over 200. And, further, the Super Tag hunter and other residents are yet to fill their tags. If you have more facts to provide, I would be interested in hearing them.
    Stay tuned for my disappointment of using aircraft (flying) for spotting big game.

  168. Chuck Feney says:

    Nancy:
    I know more, but this thread is about the abortion of a sting operation thar FWP tried on behalf of the outfitters operating in Chouteau county.

    What really ticks off the outfitters is that John Lewton, because he refuses to reduce himself to “outfitting”, has the freedom to go to any district, State, or Country that he needs to to become a true sheep expert.

    He doesn’t just know the Breaks. He knows the Pintlers, Plains, Cadimin, Hell’s Canyon, Rock Creek, the Cassiers, and Central Asia – anywhere that big rams hide, Lewton has been..

    These outfitters can’t even master the easy ground of Chouteau county. They know Lewton is out of their league, so they “conspired” to frame him.

    You do know that when that decoy warden missed that ram three times that he begged Lewton to shoot it for him, but Lewton refused and tried to calm him down and encouraged him to try again.

    Every outfitter I’ve ever met would have taken the shot for him.

    Outfitters are the scourge of hunting in the west. They are the new “market hunters”.

  169. Kboy says:

    So Mr. Feney, can we assume you were there on the scene since you are quoting the FWP agent and Lewton?

  170. Monty says:

    Kboy were you there on all Lewton’s hunts? You sure seem to be an expert on all of them with all your false accusations. You even keep coming up with things when the FWP didn’t.

  171. Monty says:

    Interesting the headline of the Butte paper yesterday was how the prosecutor for the state had a gag order placed on the accused’s lawyer. Funny how the FWP got to use the press for their big release against these guys then when the lawyer makes one statement in the paper he gets silenced.

  172. Chuck Feney says:

    Kboy:
    You can assume anything you like, including the position.

  173. Wow says:

    Interstesting little tidbit. I just recieved an e-mail newsletter from Outdoor Life featuring a do it yourself hunt for sheep in the Missouri River Breaks. The hunter took a great ram and congratulations to him, but… Just recently Missoula Taxidermist Dale Manning was on TV and in Newspapers condemning John Lewton for going on these hunts and helping sheep hunters. Well guess who accompanied this tag holder on his hunt in the Breaks? The same taxidermist Dale Manning who was asked to go according to the story “because he is a sheep expert. Sound familiar everyone? If Lewton is a sheep expert and taxidermist who accompanies legitimate tag holders on their hunts but is facing all these charges shouldn’t the FWP be looking at Mr Manning? Did he mount the guys sheep? Did he eat the guy’s food or did the hunter pay for his gas? All would constitute illegal outfitting according to the precident being set here. Also a guy was taking pictures. Did he have the proper permits? Was he illegal guiding? I’m not trying to take anything away from this guy’s hunt or even imply he did anything wrong but neither did John Lewton, James Reed and Blake Trangmoe. Maybe Dale Manning should think before he throws someone under the bus then does the exact same thing. Kind of the pot calling the kettle black wouldn’t you say? Also they state Mr Manning shot a 186″ ram in Rock Creek last year. It didn’t mention John Lewton stopped in Dale’s shop and told him where he had found rams in that unit did it?

  174. bearbait says:

    To satisfy Natl Environmental Planning Act specifications, a person wanting to take pictures for possible profit has to comply with NEPA and get a NEPA permit. A BLM or USFS minion can decide that a fire needs not to be put out and allowed to burn thousands of acres. Go figure. At least the photographer had to go through a permitting process. Conflagration burning does not. Ya gotta love this country…and it takes a lot of work to do that right now.

  175. bearbait says:

    I need to correct myself: NEPA….Natl Enviro. POLICY Act…..not planning. Close but no cigar.

  176. Laird says:

    Has anyone heard when and where the trial will be held? Perhaps FWP is looking into more evidence and violations. There is something also about Alberta violations and the USFWS I understand. Past violations seem to be important to this case as well. We will all see when the trial is held.

  177. Monty says:

    Laird,
    You need to go take your meds again, your still confusing things. The Alberta violations your speaking of are from a ram found in a park that was found with it’s head and cape removed. It was unearthed by a grizzly bear. The authorities are checking it’s DNA against rams killed in Alberta recently. They have a primary suspect they’re focusing on and it has nothing to do with this case or any of the three accused in this case. Once again if you are the “writer” you claim to be, which we all highly doubt, you would do a little investigating and figure this stuff out on your own by checking facts instead of spreading rumors and looking like a fool.

  178. Monty says:

    By the way Laird, you said we weren’t going to hear any more from you until the trial? Well since a date hasn’t even been set yet I hope you keep your promise and you’ll spare us from your inaccurate ramblings for quite some time.

  179. Laird says:

    Well Monty, the big ‘expert’………..Lets see what comes out of the trial!………. It’s quite obvious you are not a writer.Are you a hunter? You seem to be making all these judgments before the trial. Maybe they need to put a ‘gag order’ on you. Will you be at the trial? I hope it’s soon Monty with the hunting season coming up.

  180. mtdream says:

    Laird,

    your latest response is quite comical…

    Pot (laird) meet Kettle (Nancy)

    Your journalism skills if representative of your posting skills, are probably best suited for a Michael Moore Movie…(which is an offense to things called movies)

    You have jumped to more conclusions and innuendo than most in here…perhaps you are part of a national writing thing, but it is probably used to jumping to conclusions, so lets start a poll…which magazine?

    [ ] PMSNBC Journal?
    [ ] Daily KOS?
    [ ] Media Matters Daily?
    [ ] Huffington Post?

    again, hope your not a journalist…if so, I am VERY confident I will NEVER buy a magazine that you write for…Your giddy with excitement even prior to the trial, and excited to fly off to conclusionville…

  181. Laird says:

    …..None of those mt dream…………..It’s MAD MAGAZINE!!……..

    …….Hi Nancy ‘Thumbs up’ on your great comments!……

  182. Monty says:

    Not making any judgements Laird, other than you not being a writer, it’s just not too difficult to do some research and find out facts before opening your mouth. It’s all public record. Check all the blogs and threads Laird, public opinion I’d say is at least 75% maybe even 80-90% for the accused. And it’s not just FWP haters. Those are the people who are going to be deciding the fate of these men in a jury if this goes to trial. I personally admire the FWP and the job they do to protect our wildlife, but in this case I feel they screwed up and most of the public feels the same way.(and by the way, hunting season has been open for quite a while, you need to talk them into letting you outside more)

  183. mtdream says:

    So, why wont you post the articles and magazines yet?

    Dont like people calling your bluff? Too used to dealing with mindless automatons who cant see through your BS?

    You have insulted hunters…
    You insulted Trophy Hunters…
    You have demonstrated complete ignorance of Montana, and most states game laws re: spotting animals with aircraft…
    You threw everyone in here who disagrees with you under the bus of illegal hunters guides etc.
    You have jumped on the side of guilty without even a base level of understanding…

    Those are NOT a recipe for a successful “national hunting magazine writer” who only writes from a “pro hunter” perspective…

  184. Tracks says:

    Man there is a lot of mis-information posted here!

    A few important points:
    1) The warden did not poach this sheep since he held a valid tag produced by FWP specifically for this investigation.

    2) Tax payers in MT did not pay $0.01 towards this investigation since FWP’s budget is entirely funded by license sales and other FWP generated revenue.

    3) State and Federal law enforcement agents have been using this same technique for decades and it has held up in court nicely.

    4) It is not an accident that this large ram and other even bigger rams are alive in Montana today. FWP has diligently protected these animals, allowing rams to grow this large. Bighorn sheep are particularly popular amongst poachers and illegal outfitters due to their trophy value and FWP’s active investigation and prosecution of these criminals is important work to preserve Bighorn sheep for sportsmen as well as the for the species’ sake.

    5) The bear incident mentioned by some posters happened decades ago and the current FWP officers in the Ennis area were in no way involved. Our current game warden in Ennis is an absolutely top notch individual and law enforcement officer.

  185. john says:

    Hi Guys,
    There was a great article in the Bozeman paper on this and it really states a lot more facts than you have in here. The FWP have been tyring to get this guy for years and there is great reason for this. We lost a great Ram in the sting, however….how many countless other animals have been saved? Also, it was never mentioned that the FWP officer missed intentionally 4 times to save the Ram but had to kill it to protect himself as they were getting suspicious. THANK YOU FWP for putting your well being on the line to save hunting for all of us!

  186. Laird says:

    Looks like FWP has a good case to me with evidence. It will all come out at the trial(s). When and where will the trial be held?
    Mt Dream,Monty and Chuck can we meet for coffee during the trial?…………………….. Yes,it’s ok if you buy!
    I drink a lot of coffee, ok? You pick the place?

  187. wow says:

    john,
    How were any more sheep saved when they are not even questioning if any of the sheep Lewton has been involved with were not taken with legal tags? They were all legitimate tag holders and all would probably have taken a sheep regardless. Yes the officer missed the ram three times ASKING LEWTON TO SHOOT IT FOR HIM EVERY TIME HE MISSED WHICH LEWTON REFUSED! The time he did hit it he didn’t have to shoot it, he and the other agent along were the ones that found the rams after they had been lost because of the misses and chose to shoot the largest ram out of the band. The “Great article in the Bozeman paper” you speak of was just the FWP’s side of the story to smear these guys and before the accused could respond the state placed a gag order on the case. Allen Jones wrote this story from a non biased opinion unlike the FWPs distorted version of the story. Also what was the agent protecting himself from by shooting the sheep? Having his picture taken? The three accused only had cameras and the agent had a gun and a backup agent with him. So I guess your thanking the FWP for taking a misdemeanor ticket for maybe trespassing and turning it into a felony by shooting one of the largest rams ever taken? There are no other charges from them “investigating this guy for years”. None. And not one of the accused has any prior violations, so not even any history of wrongdoing. Just a history of helping guys on their hunts for no money. And as far as the illegal guiding, do you honestly believe anyone would put their freedom, hunting privaleges, carrers, etc for $1000? That’s the amount paid by the agent to Lewton to give to the pilot. So if the agent gave Lewton $1000 to give to the pilot which it says he did, these guys must be making a hell of a living off of their illegal guiding profits huh? That ads up to $0 divided three ways. $0 for a hunt that goes for $15,000 plus. Get real.

  188. monty says:

    Laird, Still no trial date and your still on here!

  189. Laird says:

    Does that mean you are good for the coffee?

  190. Mr. Twister says:

    I’ll bet a cup of coffee this 2 bit crap will never make it to trial. The state has no case, they need to make this thing go away. If it were to make it to court I assume it will be in Fort Benton as the so-called crime occured in Chouteau county. L&R;coffee shop will be a hopin’ place.

  191. Monty says:

    I like you Twister.

  192. Laird says:

    Lets see….I could fly into Great Falls and rent a Hertz ‘obammobile’ and be in Ft. Benton in 1/2 hour. That will work for me. Maybe I should buy the coffee then.

  193. Mr. Twister says:

    Ah, my status rises. Hope to meet you both someday but I don’t think it will be in Ft. Benton cause this dog won’t hunt, this turkey won’t fly, and FW&P;knows it.

  194. Monty says:

    AMEN!!!

  195. Laird says:

    ……….Keep up the good work MTFWP that is what we sportsmen(hunters) pay you to do. We hope you do more of these worthwhile efforts!! Thanks MTFWP!

  196. monty says:

    We pay them to kill our trophy wildlife? Hmmm, I don’t think that’s where I want my money going.

  197. Mr. Twister says:

    And this just in. FW&P;commisioners are wondering why FW&P;is selling 85 sheep to Ut & WA. And the answer is! THEY MAKE MORE MONEY! A resident ewe tag is worth $125, sell the same sheep to WA and it is worth $600. Thanks commisioner Moody and others for calling them out on yet another slight -of- hand from FW&P;. $50,000 plus a great photo op and copter rodeo, nice work if you can get it. I hear they need some clowns, any takers?

  198. mysheeptag says:

    “This inexcusable action resulted in a loss for all citizens of Montana,” said Warden Captain Lee Anderson. “This wasn’t subsistence hunting or an accident, it was poaching. I encourage anyone with information about this matter to contact FWP.”

  199. Jeff says:

    Mr. Mysheeptag, why are quoting Lee Anderson on his response to an elk poached on the West side of the divide? What the heck does that have to do with this sheep blog ???/ Just stirring the pot with misinformation,,,,,??? Nice try.

  200. monty says:

    Jeff,
    I think the point Mysheeptag was making is that this sheep case is another “inexcusible action resulting in a loss for all citizens of Montana” but this time it was committed by the FWP.

  201. mysheeptag says:

    Monty,

    Thanks for clearing that up for me!

  202. jeff says:

    Yea, my fault,,,Later when I [finally] got to thinking,,,I went back and reread it and saw the sarcasim dripping off and I said yea mysheeptag, I agree with you and I see what you meant. I’m in the fog some days,,,,,,,I did see in a Hunt Talk blog where a group filming a sheep hunt in Missouri Breaks found two 190+ rams dead. One from this year that FWP people said had been shot and a ram from probly last year,,,,,very disturbing,,,,,

  203. Monty says:

    That’s a shame, those rams up there are truly a treasure and we keep losing them to pointless waste.

  204. Mr. Twister says:

    Ya, a real shame. Oh jee wizz I just shot a ram not big enough, best get out of here and find another. Or my other favorite, shot at one, down over he went, looked over the edge and there he was, shot again…opps, must have hit the first one after all! the other common mistake down there is shooting young rams thought to be ewes. Happens so often F&G;just writes a $300 ticket and takes the sheep. Biologists figure it in, no real harm done…unless you think sheep are priceless once-in-a-lifetime trophys. I call them food, F&G;calls them money.
    Now fine fellows, give me another spanking!

  205. monty says:

    No spanking twister.(unless LAIRD WANTS TO DO IT!) $300 ticket for shooting the wrong sheep, a felony if the FWP shoots a sheep and your along. What’s wrong with this picture?

  206. Laird says:

    No more smoke screens,no more opinions,no more bias rationale and support lets have the trial and all EVIDENCE presented.

  207. mtdream says:

    Laird your comment presumes as much naivete as your assuming we have about your “national hunting writer” status…

    Both sides of a case, do everything in their power to ensure ONLY the evidence they want is seen and submitted…Rarely is all evidence known, and heard…You know similar to placing a gag order on the case so the public doesnt learn more about this case, and how rotten it sounds…

  208. Perry says:

    Lewton, Trangmoe, and Reed initial appearances in Choteau County is November 3rd. They pled not guilty to the trespass charges in Blaine County. Jack Morris of Whitehall is attempting to represent all of them.

  209. kathy says:

    i wonder if it tastes good??!!!!!

  210. jim says:

    Now that Mr. Lewton has been aquitted I hope Mr. Jones will do a follow up article about this travesty, much more information about the unscrupulous actions of mtfwp should now be available and I think everybody should be made aware of it.

  211. Chuck Feney says:

    The Ballad of John Lewton:
    Bighorn Entrapment in the Breaks

    A wildlife photographer who’s name is John Lewton
    Got entrapped in an illegal big game shootin’.
    Fish and Game gave warden Gibson a rare tag
    And then they told him to go out and bag
    A record Ram, which is a fact that they’re disputin’.

    You see, John Lewton is an expert Bighorn scholar.
    The hunters that he freely films constantly collar
    Bigger rams than the outfitter’s claim
    Which caused them considerable shame
    ‘Cause he does it without taking one thin dollar!

    Lewton likes to show hunters where to go for free
    So the Montana outfitters put in a desperate plea
    To stop Lewton from going
    On hunts where he was showing
    Regular Joes rams that provoked outfitter jealousy.

    So Fish and Game stole a rare 680 Bighorn permit,
    Denying a Montana hunter who played the game legit.
    Gibson asked Lewton to show
    Him where the biggest Bighorns grow
    And then offered money and crimes for Lewton to commit.

    The sting operation didn’t come off as planned,
    Gibson tried flying, radios, and even crossing land.
    But the hilarious thing
    Was Lewton filmed the whole sting
    So Warden Gibson decided to make a desperate last stand.

    They found a record ram, Gibson fired and wildly missed
    And then he begged Lewton to take the shot and thus assist
    In the illegal taking of this ram
    But Lewton knew it was a scam
    And told Gibson to keep hunting ’cause real hunters persist!

    Gibson knew this case was never gonna make it.
    But he had a tag and ram, so he decided he would take it.
    Soon after he dropped the sheep
    He knew he was in way too deep
    Without any evidence, so he decided he would fake it.

    Gibson told Lewton that he was in a financial plight,
    He needed to sell the ram ’cause money got real tight.
    They completed a legal sale,
    Then he threw Lewton in jail,
    But Fish and Game had a lousy case, and the Jury didn’t bite!

    Now Fish and Game has a face that’s cherry red,
    They’re embarrassed over the giant ram that’s dead.
    And they’re ashamed of all the sleazy facts
    That came out on all the greasy acts
    That they’ve been performing with the outfitters in bed!
    —————————————————–
    Charles Ulysses Feney
    © 2010

  212. Mad says:

    I am sooooo pleased of the results so far and have to again apologize for assuming that the FWP made a good investment in their very pricey investigation. I was one of the many people that put in for 680 in 2008 and am furious that my tag went to this disaster. Still no word on whether charges will be dropped in the other counties and still no word from Kropp.

    It’s funny going back to Gibson’s desperate comments. If the sheep had been run ragged and were exhausted then why didn’t he just shoot all of them? Or, why didn’t he adjust his scope when no one was looking to shoot wayyyyy off? I’ve done that to some close friends before and no matter how hard they try, they can’t hit a barn with a box of shells. Too funny. Was Gibson carrying a knife in order to level the playing field?…….in his warped mind anyway. Only a government employee would see an advantage in bringing a knife to a gun fight. What a moron. You know how the saying goes.

    I’m still curious how Marc Glines got off by killing a grizzly bear when he thought it was a black bear. How big of a fine would you and I have paid and why did he keep his job? He is now collecting retirement from the state when he was known locally as a complete waste of flesh. He once checked an elk carcass in the back of a truck with an obvious bullet hole in it……..during bow season. Lots and lots of stories from the locals about this clown and now we add another sheep shooter to the mix. Sam Sheppard was so excited to get rid of Glines that he gave him a good public right up. Most could see right through it though. You can’t hide or fix stupid.

    We can’t afford these guys “protecting” our wildlife. We should have someone pool warden stories together and write a book.

  213. Dean says:

    Get real the wardens screwed up bad but the character involved is far from a saint. Prostitute the wildlife resource to make money and do what ever is necessary to do it. The entire caper is sickening so what can we expect next and where they never stop?

  214. Dean says:

    Hi Mad(John) will you be heading for the Missouri Breaks again soon you can find the sheep in the plane and more fair chase?

  215. mtdream says:

    Isnt it interesting….

    Just a couple quotes…

    By Laird, 10-17-09
    No more smoke screens,no more opinions,no more bias rationale and support lets have the trial and all EVIDENCE presented.

    By Laird, 10-12-09
    ……….Keep up the good work MTFWP that is what we sportsmen(hunters) pay you to do. We hope you do more of these worthwhile efforts!! Thanks MTFWP!

    By Laird, 10-09-09
    Looks like FWP has a good case to me with evidence. It will all come out at the trial(s). When and where will the trial be held?
    Mt Dream,Monty and Chuck can we meet for coffee during the trial?…………………….. Yes,it’s ok if you buy!
    I drink a lot of coffee, ok? You pick the place?

    By Laird, 9-24-09
    I have been following this case with considerable interest. I am an outdoor writer. I aways try to keep track of issues in Montana.This case is interesting from many different perspectives.

    I love this last one…Wonder if he will write the perspective that hte F&G;was wrong? or if he will take the tactic of..”crap he just slipped through, but we have a good case”

    Well, evidence is out, and is now public record, Lewton found NOT guilty on ALL counts…

    wait, I can hear it already…but, but, but there are two other counties with charges….

    Face it, this guy was not guilty of any wrong doing (which is the bar in the US)and then Laird will babble about it being like OJ blah blah blah…

  216. Dean says:

    Publish this entire ‘caper’ in MAD MAGAZINE!!

  217. bearbait says:

    Better, remember it when you vote.

  218. Dean says:

    Your right..Iam not voting for any democrat especially Baucus,Tester and sure as hell not obama!