CENTERVILLE, Iowa - Matthew K. McCullah, 30, of Cassville, Mo., was found guilty of poaching a turkey on April 20, near Moulton in southeast Appanoose County.
Conservation officers were checking hunting licenses during spring turkey season in rural Appanoose County when they noticed one hunter was constantly on his phone texting. As the officers were heading down the road, they noticed two men come over a hill carrying shotguns, wearing hunting packs, and dressed in full camouflage.
Seeing this, Officer Jacob Fulk returned and upon checking the men, Fulk learned that McCullah had killed a turkey with his shotgun but had not tagged the bird that was tucked into the hunting pack he was carrying.
McCullah initially claimed that he was serving as a guide and after his client killed a turkey, a second bird came in to the decoys and he couldn’t help but shoot it. During the interview, McCullah admitted to not having a license.
McCullah said he was a free lance videographer for hunting shows in the Midwest and was concerned about how getting caught poaching a turkey was going to affect his ability to get work.
Officers seized the equipment used to kill the turkey, including the bird and shotgun. McCullah was charged with illegally taking a wild turkey ($195), not having a valid nonresident hunting license ($195), and not having a nonresident turkey tag ($330).
On May 13, McCullah was found guilty of the three charges and in addition to the fines, was ordered to pay the $200 liquidated damages for the turkey to the Fish and Wildlife Trust Fund. On August 14, the magistrate ordered that the $1,500 in equipment used to illegally take the bird be condemned to the state.
McCullah will lose his hunting privileges for at least one year in Iowa and all other states participating in the wildlife violator compact.