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Bowhunting Couple Faces Charges in Nebraska’s Largest Poaching Case Ever

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The famous bowhunting couple will appear in federal court, where they face a laundry list of charges.

Josh and Sarah Bowmar are no strangers to the spotlight. The Ohio couple is well-known for their collective bowhunting success, online videos, and physical fitness training programs.

But they’re now set to go to federal court. Together, they face charges that allege hunting turkeys without a valid permit, illegally transporting game across state lines, and illegal baiting of wildlife, among others.

Bowmar Charges

Among violations of numerous Nebraska state laws, the Bowmars are also charged with violating the federal Lacey Act through interstate commerce of wildlife.

Filed by United States Attorney Joseph P. Kelly in July, a 20-page indictment lists all charges. The document requests the forfeiture of three whitetail bucks killed in 2016 and 2017 by the couple, a compound bow, and monetary reparations equal to the value of the property involved. However, no amount is yet disclosed.

In a public statement, the Bowmars’ lawyer, G. Kline Preston, IV, Esq., stated that the couple has pled not guilty and remains innocent until proven otherwise.

“The Lacey Act is an abusive piece of federal legislation that is used to excessively punish hunters for alleged minor infractions which are the equivalent of a speeding ticket under state law,” Preston wrote. “The Bowmars have elected to stand on their rights and fight these charges before a jury rather than accept a deal. The Bowmars are fighting for their rights and those of other ethical hunters as well.”

They intend to fight the charges and go to a jury trial. The Bowmars’ case moves to a pretrial motion deadline on Nov. 2, 2020.

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Hidden Hills Outfitters Sting

The case is part of a much larger sting involving Hidden Hills Outfitters (HHO) of Broken Bow, Nebraska. Co-owner and lead guide, Joshua Hueftle, received 30 months in federal prison and a $214,375 fine — restitution set to be paid to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. He also faces a 15-year ban from obtaining hunting licenses.

More than 30 defendants pled guilty in the case, resulting in more than $500,000 in fines and 53 years of revoked hunting and fishing privileges. In all, 97 animals were found to be taken illegally. HHO also regularly killed non-game migratory birds, meaning birds like red-tailed hawks and American kestrels. The latter is a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Act.

Bowmars Under Scrutiny Once More

This is not the first time the Bowmars have found themselves facing public scrutiny. In 2016, Josh Bowmar killed a black bear in Canada using a spear with a GoPro attached, causing an international backlash.

Although Bowmar wasn’t charged with wrongdoing at the time, Alberta subsequently changed its hunting laws to ban spears as a legal method of take in 2018 as a result of the outcry. The penalty for hunting with a prohibited weapon in Alberta now comes with a maximum $50,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

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