Preachers Busted for Poaching

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Preachers and poaching companions Earl E. Jenkins and William G. Phillips are doing a lot of praying for themselves these days. They are praying for forgiveness. But forgiveness won’t come cheap for these two poachers.

In October 2003, Evanston game warden Jim Olson responded to a report of trespassing from the Fraughton Ranch, south of Evanston, located in deer area 133. When Olson arrived he contacted the landowner and his son. The landowner told Olson they were “sitting” on two men in their early 50’s, who they had caught trespassing to hunt, with two ‘respectable’ 4-by-4 buck deer in the back of their truck.

“I explained the trespass violation to Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Phillips, who promptly told me the landowner had already explained it to them, so I didn’t need to do it again,” said Olson. “I asked Phillips for his license and he promptly handed me the original G&F envelope the license was mailed in. The carcass coupon had not been detached, signed, or kill date removed.”

When Olson asked Jenkins if his license was also still in the envelope he didn’t get a simple yes, or no.

“ Jenkins answered ‘no, not exactly,’” said Olson. “When I asked what that meant, he told me that he did not have a license. Then they preceded to tell me some elaborate story to explain.”

Phillips told Olson he originally wounded the deer that Jenkins killed because he had run out of bullets and Jenkins killed the deer to prevent the escape and potential loss of a wounded deer. They were just trying to do the “right” thing.

Olson immediately issued both men trespass citations, Philips for failure to tag, and Jenkins for taking a game animal without a license. The two deer were seized from the truck, along with two Ziploc bags containing a heart and liver each. That night the subjects forfeited bond and were released.

The incident did not end there.

On Oct. 3, the same landowner contacted Olson and informed him that he had found a spike buck that had been dumped less then 50 yards from where he had contacted the trespassers on Oct. 1. Olson and Game Warden Bart Morris responded to the area. Circumstantial evidence supported the officer’s belief that Jenkins and Phillips had dumped this deer when they got a chance knowing Olson was en route.

“The landowner and I also found a 4-by-5 buck that had been shot and left,” said Olson. “We were able to retrieve a good bullet from this deer, which is consistent with the rifle used by the unlicensed hunter, Jenkins.”

G&F Wildlife Investigator Jim Gregory executed a search warrant in Utah and Olson executed a search warrant in Idaho with the help of five Idaho Fish and Game officers. The search warrants yielded the recovery of both rifles used during these crimes.

During Olson’s interview with Jenkins he admitted to killing the spike, the 4-by-4 mule deer taken from him on Oct. 1, and shooting at another “buck of a lifetime.”

“Jenkins told me that he shot at the deer and it fell down, but he was sure he didn’t hit the deer, because he didn’t find any blood. He decided the deer just tripped,” Olson said.

Additionally, Jenkins told Olson that Phillips and he did in fact dump the spike when they got a chance after they saw the G&F truck coming.

“Game Wardens have to be thankful for some of the gifts they are given,” says Olson. “One of the Ziploc bags seized from their vehicle on Oct. 1 belonged to the spike deer.”

When the two “men of the cloth” finished their poaching spree, four deer were killed with just one license, two of which were wasted. If that wasn’t enough, the suspects were also found in possession of four antelope doe/fawn licenses. Two of the licenses belonged individuals at home in Utah.

Both men originate from Oklahoma and are currently preachers living in church provided housing.

Phillips, 52, of West Jordan, Utah pleaded guilty to trespassing to hunt, failure to tag a big game animal and accessory to taking an antlered deer without a license. Phillips was put on probation for five years with a deferred prosecution. Terms of his probation include: $340 fines, $5,000 restitution to the G&F, he cannot hunt in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Montana or Colorado for 5 years and he must forfeit a 7mm rifle.

Earl Jenkins, 50, of Buhl, Idaho pleaded guilty to trespass to hunt, wanton destruction of a big game animal, two counts of taking a deer without a license, and taking and antlered deer without a license. Jenkins’ hunting privileges have been revoked in all Wildlife Violator Compact states for 15 years. Jenkins was ordered to pay $11, 670 in fines and restitution. Additionally, Jenkins will be on probation for 3 ½ years and forfeit the .25-06 rifle used in the commission of these wildlife crimes.

Olson says collectively, these two preacher/poachers will serve 8 ½ years on probation, pay $17,020 in fines and restitution, 20 years of hunting privileges lost and forfeit two rifles.

“The solving of this case would not have been possible without these ethical and responsible landowners, the diligent efforts of Mike Greer and Jason Conder of the Uinta County Attorney’s Office, and the help of IDGF officers,” says Olson. “We are very thankful. justice has been served.”