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Deer Hunters Wanted.  

Sep 24, 2023

We've partnered with Wayne Saunders from the Warden's Watch podcast to delve into a gripping story that serves as a cautionary tale for hunters and conservationists alike. Ohio is a prime destination for white-tailed deer hunters, but unfortunately, it also attracts poachers. We'll explore the story of "Big Boy," a trophy buck that captured the attention of ethical hunters and law enforcement officers, only to fall victim to poaching.

  • Ohio as a Hunting Destination: Why Ohio is a hotspot for white-tailed deer hunting and, regrettably, also for poaching.
  • The Ethical Hunters: Ian Obenshain and Brad Bailey spot Big Boy in the summer of 2009 and plan to hunt it ethically in the fall.
  • Officer Gilkey's Involvement: The hunters specifically wanted Officer Gilkey to be involved in overseeing the hunting area.
  • The Disappearance: Big Boy vanishes from trail cameras just before the hunting season begins.
  • The Expo Revelation: Months later, Big Boy is displayed at an expo, claimed to be a Kentucky state record by a poacher.
  • The Confession: The poacher sticks to his story but eventually confesses, hoping to avoid prison time.
  • Legal Consequences: The poacher, with thirteen prior hunting convictions, faces a lifetime hunting ban and a $23,572.05 fine under Ohio's Trophy Restitution Law.
  • Recognition for Officer Gilkey: He receives the Ohio Bow Hunter Officer of the Year award for solving this case.
  • Role of Ethical Hunters: The hunters who initially spotted and documented Big Boy also deserve recognition for their ethical approach.
  • Reporting Wildlife Crime: The importance of reporting wildlife crimes through platforms like
  • The Emotional Toll: The loss of Big Boy was hard for the ethical hunters, but the case also brought them closer as friends.
  • Law Enforcement's Approach: The seriousness with which the case was handled is a testament to the importance of wildlife conservation.


The tale of Big Boy serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced by ethical hunters and the importance of wildlife conservation. While the story had a bittersweet ending, it also showcased the dedication of law enforcement officers like Officer Gilkey and the role of ethical hunters in preserving the integrity of the sport. The case also highlights the importance of reporting wildlife crimes, which can be done across all 50 states and Canada through Let's all take a moment to appreciate the efforts of those who strive to keep our forests and wildlife safe.