GLENWOOD SPRINGS - A Carbondale couple was convicted last month of poaching a trophy deer in Missouri Heights after wildlife officers accumulated a variety of evidence, including a picture of the buck the couple posted on the website MonsterMuleys.com.
Shay Trulove, 33, and Krysta Trulove, 29, pleaded guilty to different charges Dec. 13 in Garfield County Court. Krysta Trulove was convicted of violating Colorado's Samson Law, which prohibits illegal hunting of trophy-sized game animals. She also was convicted of failure to properly deer tag and two counts of failure to wear orange clothing while hunting.
A judge ordered her to pay $10,490.50 in fines and court costs and to forfeit her firearm, according to the court file.
Shay Trulove pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wildlife and hunting without a license, according to court records. He was ordered to pay $1,969.50 in a fine and court costs and forfeit his firearm and any meat from the poached buck.
Officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the convictions came from an incident that occurred in November 2011 and took several months to investigate. Officers received a tip that the Truloves had shot two deer on successive days even though they had just one license, possessed by Krysta, according to Wildlife Officer John Groves. They killed a "very nice buck" on land in Missouri Heights in November 2011 but then decided that they wanted to go after a bigger buck they had been watching on private land about five miles away, Groves said. They had been unsuccessfully seeking permission to hunt the property, he said.
The Truloves disposed of the first deer by giving it to a friend, wildlife officers learned. They kept their tag and the next day shot and killed the trophy buck they had been eying on different property, according to Groves.
Wildlife officers were contacted with information about the kill in late December 2011. By May or June, they had accumulated enough information to question the couple, Groves said. He described them as cooperative. The head and antlers of the trophy buck were hanging in their house, he said, and pictures of the buck also were posted on various hunting websites.
On MonsterMuleys.com, they submitted a picture of Krysta holding up the head of the dead buck by its antlers in the common hunter's pose. They entered two photos in the 2011 Big Buck, Big Bull and other big-game contests. The pictures are under the headline: "236-inch Colorado Whopper for Krysta." The caption says, "While hunting Colorado, Krysta Trulove downed this monster buck."
The picture shows the trophy buck had nine points on the right side of its rack and five points on the left side.
Wildlife officers took their information to the Garfield County District Attorney's Office, and charges were filed by September, Groves said. While the criminal case was resolved in December, the Truloves will go before a Colorado Parks and Wildlife hearing officer for a determination on how long their hunting licenses will be taken, according to Perry Will, area 8 wildlife manager.
He said the clear lesson of the incident is poaching doesn't pay. "The consequences are steep," he said, noting their combined fines topping $12,000. "That's going to affect that family financially."
Shay Trulove's hunting license had been revoked for reasons that weren't immediately available, according to Perry and Groves. He was allegedly caught hunting twice previously while under revocation, and the length of suspension was extended, Groves said.
"Shay has been in trouble with the division frequently," Groves said.
No telephone number was available for the Truloves.