Who Needs Hunting Seasons?

Montana outfit busted on several counts of poaching

Outdoor Life Online Editor

On long, cramped flights, most passengers don't want to talk to those seated around them. That's not the case with four Tennessee men on their way to Montana. In fact, they couldn't shut up, and what they said cost a guide his outfitter license and might see him put behind bars.

The out-of-state men spoke with a Montana local during a flight, stating that they were coming to the Yellowstone area to hunt elk even though it was late January. Knowing the game laws, the local man figured something seemed amiss and called a game warden when they landed.

After 1,000 man-hours investigating the operation, authorities arrested Danny McDonald, a ranch owner and outfitter. McDonald pleaded guilty and has a plea deal awaiting approval from a judge. The penalty would be one year in prison, a $25,000 fine and lifetime suspension of hunting and gun ownership rights.

So far, five of McDonald's clients have also been charged with taking game illegally from his 1,100-acre family ranch. Authorities expect to bring more charges in the near future.