A recommendation to all would-be poachers and game law violators out there: If you shoot a massive whitetail when you haven’t purchased a hunting license, it might not be a good idea to have your deer photos and story splashed all over the local newspaper.

Can you say: DUH?!

Alert authorities with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources compared information contained in a newspaper article about a 24-point buck taken during the archery season with the department’s hunting license database to discover that the hunter was unlicensed at the time the buck was shot.


Doubting the claims made by Christopher James in an Oct. 26 story appearing in the Jackson Citizen-Patriot, conservation officers ran a DNR computer search and verified he did not purchase a license until the morning after he shot the buck.

In the newspaper article, James said he shot the buck in a Spring Arbor Township swamp at dusk on Oct. 24. He said he tracked a blood trail part of the night and returned to recover the deer the following morning.

He conveniently omitted the part about buying a hunting license after he found the deer.

“He bought the license at 9:44 the next morning at Pine Hill Lake Marina,” Conservation Officer Troy Bahlau told the Citizen-Patriot.


Authorities have seized a record-class deer rack and filed poaching charges against James.

The paper reported that James confessed to the charges and said he will plead guilty in court. He faces a mandatory jail term of 5-93 days, a $1,000 fine and loss of hunting privileges for three years.

And all of it could have been easily prevented.

“He lost the buck of a lifetime for the lack of a $15 license,” Bahlau said.