GRAND JUNCTION — One of four South Carolina men who used poison arrows to hunt and paralyze deer, elk and bears admitted using the banned equipment in Colorado for at least 20 years before he pleaded guilty Tuesday to a variety of wildlife charges, including illegal taking of wildlife and illegal use of toxins in hunting.
George Plummer of Timmonsville, S.C., told authorities after his arrest Saturday that he’d been returning to the same leased cabin, just east of Collbran, and using the arrows since the late-1980s, according to Michael Blanck, District Wildlife Manager.
Animals were targeted with arrows poisoned with a powerful muscle relaxant that caused paralysis, while shutting down an animal’s respiratory system within seconds of a strike, authorities said.
Plummer and the others — Joseph Nevling, also of Timmonsville, Michael Courtney of Florence, S.C., and James Cole of Sumter, S.C. — all were ordered to pay several thousands of dollars in fines and court costs. The men also agreed not to hunt in Colorado over the next four years.
“It’s hard to say how many animals they’ve taken illegally,” state wildlife investigator Rich Antonio told Judge Arthur Smith on Tuesday.
Under a wildlife interstate compact, the men could be banned from hunting in 38 other states, including South Carolina, Blanck said.
Each of the men received individual lectures from the judge Tuesday.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Smith told Nevling. “This isn’t hunting. This is just going out and killing things.”
A few of the men expressed regret, but one offered a defense of the practice, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Wednesday.
“Back in South Carolina, everybody hunts with (poison arrows),” Cole said. He described the equipment as an “insurance policy” that works for catching any game after a license is purchased.
The judge said it’s the responsibility of hunters to know the laws where they hunt. Aside from being illegal in Colorado, archery hunting using poison arrows violates principles of “fair chase,” Blanck said.
Plummer and his hunting activities in Colorado had been under investigation for nearly two years, which started with a tip from another hunter. This year, Plummer’s group was under surveillance since shortly after they arrived around Aug. 31, which marked the start of hunting season, Blanck said.
A search of the area turned up coolers that contained meat from recent kills.