Portage poachers sentenced for killing Boone & Crockett buck

Feb. 9—Two men must collectively pay $7,450 in fines for illegally killing and taking a trophy whitetail buck along Hufford Hill Road in Portage Twp., in the early hours of Friday, Dec.8., according to the PA. Game Commission. The combination of using an outdated harvest tag, and sharing the crime on social media, quickly led PGC authorities to Zachary Burgan,20, and Matthew Koenig, 22, both of Portage.

"We got information through our tip line in reference to a large antlered deer being poached, and we acquired some social media intelligence from that," said Game Warden and Field Supervisor Sgt. Brian Witherite. Acting on the tip, Game Warden April Whitsell investigated the incident immediately, said Witherite. "The deer was already at a taxidermist and they tried to conceal the legality of that deer. They put last year's deer tag on it—an expired deer tag, which flagged the taxidermist."

"April was able to grab that evidence and had a conversation with the individuals involved, and they confessed to killing it at night through the use of a light," said Witherite."I think they used a .243 caliber rifle and shot it around 12:30AM, and were trying to use a tag to claim it as a legally harvested deer, and of course it wasn't. They thought they had a current tag on it, and of course they didn't."

Koenig was sentenced to pay over $6,350 in fines and restitution with multiple years license revocation. Burgan was sentenced to pay over $1,100 with the multiple years license revocation. "They were cooperative with Officer Whitsell regarding it, but it generated a lot of buzz because that deer was tremendous. It's a trophy class whitetail." Whiterite said that after deductions the main-frame 8-point with its drop tine and split G2 officially scored over 169" using the Boone & Crockett Club scoring system.

An additional $5,000 fine was imposed due to the buck's trophy status.