Texas man could face hefty $53,000 penalty for poaching record-breaking whitetail buck

Deer scored 278 points under Boone & Crockett scoring system

Texas Parks and Wildlife photo

DENTON, Texas – Travis Johnson used his bow to shoot the second largest whitetail buck ever recorded in Texas on Oct. 7, 2017, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

He broke the law doing it.

Johnson pleaded no contest to taking the deer illegally and was sentenced Monday to two years of probation, 40 hours of community service, court costs and could face in excess of $53,000 in restitution fines.

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The buck scored an impressive 278 points under the Boone & Crockett scoring system, which takes into account number of points on each antler, tip-to-tip spread and more. Read more on that here. 

Texas game wardens were made aware of the kill Oct. 8 and were informed the buck may have been harvested after legal hunting hours.

Game Warden Stormy McCuistion investigated in October and was told the carcass had been discarded because there was a possibility the meat was infected.

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Johnson claimed to have wounded the buck Sept. 30, but was unable to retrieve it and began pursuing the animal in hopes of ending its suffering, according to TPWD.

Johnson’s story was called into question when game wardens interviewed the landowner of the property adjacent to where Johnson hunted.

The landowner recalled texting Johnson at about an hour past dark Oct. 7 asking if he was OK since he noticed he had not returned to his vehicle. Johnson replied that he was safe, but made no mention of having successfully taken the big buck an hour earlier, Texas Parks and Wildlife reported.

“What an ill-fated legacy for what could have been, and should have been, a remarkable testament to Texas whitetail deer,” said Col. Grahame Jones, TPWD Law Enforcement Director. “It’s tragic that in the pursuit of this magnificent specimen, Mr. Johnson chose to violate hunting’s code of ethics and the game laws designed to protect our state’s precious wildlife resources. It’s something he’ll have to live with.”

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