An elaborate poaching scheme has been uncovered in New York. And the guilty parties won't be hunting for a while after having their licenses revoked for 5 years.

Calls about two suspicious men came into both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the police department.

One witness, who is an avid hunter, noticed one of the men crouching in the woods behind his home in Western New York before hearing what he believed was the snap of a bow. A large 16-point buck ran into his yard shortly after being shot.

The witness then observed a second subject taking pictures of the wounded deer with his cell phone.

Credit - NYS DEC
Credit - NYS DEC

Captured on Trail Cams

The hunters took off when police arrived but in today's day and age, someone or something is always watching. Trail cameras captured photos of both men that were posted online. They were quickly identified as Jayson Zorda of Oneonta and Kevin Butler from Afton.

Both men denied hunting deer in an area of Tonawanda where hunting is off-limits. However, search warrants revealed another story.

Cell phones, hunting equipment, and the clothes the hunters wore on the date of the incident were seized. It was the cell phone records that uncovered the scheme.

The subjects conspired with a network of poachers, using hunting and wildlife photography posts on social media to target large bucks in suburban and urban areas closed to hunting.

Investigators discovered a fake Facebook page of a female wildlife photographer. It was used to connect with other photographers and learn the exact locations of mature urban bucks.

The compact bows were hidden in backpacks and arrows were placed in hollow walking sticks. that way the hunters just looked like hikers to anyone who may pass by.

Credit - NYS DEC
Credit - NYS DEC

Licenses Revoked

Butler and Zorda both pleaded guilty to illegally taking deer. They paid over $1,000 in fines and had their hunting licenses revoked for five years.

Charges are pending against other individuals who were implicated in the search warrants.

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