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All Baiting And Poaching Charges Dropped Against The Bowmar Couple

The Bowmars have been in the spotlight of hunting news and views of late, and naysayers of the couple may not be happy with the result of the latest court decision. It has come to light that all baiting and poaching charges have been dropped.

Author:Paolo Reyna
Reviewer:James Pierce
Jan 25, 202352 Shares1.1K Views
The Bowmars have been in the spotlight of hunting news and views of late, and naysayers of the couple may not be happy with the result of the latest court decision. It has come to light that all baiting and poaching charges have been dropped. In fact, all hunting violations against the Bowmars have been dropped.
It all started back in 2014, shortly after the Bowmars met. Josh was already an accomplished bowhunter and avid outdoorsman; however, at the time, Sarah was a vegetarian who had never even shot a bow and arrow. Despite the odds, they fell in love and, as a couple, were drawn to the outdoors. Sarah became a natural archer and bow hunter and pivoted to harvesting her own food with Josh. Living in Ohio then, the couple traveled to Nebraska for one of their many outdoor adventures together. They hired Hidden Hills Outfitters of Broken Bow to guide them through their outfitted hunt. This company came highly recommended in the hunting world based on its proven track record guiding successful hunts for fellow enthusiasts. Little did they know the nightmare that would follow.
Unbeknownst to Josh and Sarah, this particular outfitter’s clients were engaging in illegal poaching tactics, such as hunting at night with spotlights, hunting over bait, shooting deer without proper tags, and hunting with prohibited weapons. Since the Bowmarsonly bow hunt they never went hunting with any of the outfitter's other clients and always hunted by themselves with their bow and arrows. However, in hindsight, Josh states, “With everything going on behind closed doors, we should have known better, we should have paid attention and we neglected to do so—and for that, we take full responsibility for this massive mistake.”
Also unbeknownst to the Bowmars, the outfitter was the subject of a multi-year sting operation after the Nebraska Fish and Game Association caught wind of the shady dealings and launched an intensive investigation. The Bowmars had multiple hunting trips in Nebraska between 2015 and 2017, which was in the middle of Fish and Game’s intensive investigation. They found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, hunting with the wrong people. They became caught up in the same net that involved 33 other Hidden Hills clients who were eventually charged with various violations, such as baiting and poaching. It should be noted that in Nebraska, it is legal to bait - yet you cannot hunt within 200 yards of the established bait site, and that’s one of the things the Bowmars have admitted to, they baited but they did so legally in Nebraska. But that’s a part of the story - a fact of the story - that the Bowmars believe hasn’t been made clear in recent reporting.
What the press has not left out of its coverage is the Bowmars themselves. Over the course of the nine long years that the case against them was drawn out, the married couple gained quite a large social media following on Instagram and YouTube as the founders of Bowmar Archery, Bowmar Bowhunting, and Bowmar Nutrition. Their large following has made them the biggest target in this case for click-baiting news that lacks factual information about what has happened.
“Yes, this has been a classic case of ‘guilt by association’—we absolutely were not doing the things that some of the outfitter’s other clients were—but that doesn’t mean that we did nothing wrong and that we’re not taking accountability for our missteps,” Josh explains. “In the end, we believe the verdict is truthful to what happened nine years ago. All baiting and poaching charges against us were fully dismissed. In fact, all hunting violations against us were dropped. We did plead guilty to a conspiracy charge with the Lacey Act, which we felt was fair and true and take responsibility for.”
In planning to take the deer they’d hunted back home with them out of state, that’s when the conspiracy towards the Lacey Act occurred, that’s why federal law then applied, and that’s when the feds got involved. Had the couple lived in Nebraska, their violation would have carried a $75 fine, equivalent to a speeding ticket. However, they lived in Ohio at the time; therefore this planning, not even an actual hunting violation, led to a federal charge.
So, basically, all this boils down to two deer and a turkey. If only Josh and Sarah had known that attempting to hunt and cross state lines could lead to violating The Lacey Act, they would not have left Ohio. The Lacey Act is a U.S. piece of legislation written in 1900, and the act itself is not a hunting law, but rather a form of protection for wildlife and conservation, including plants and trees.
Regulations like the Lacey Act are not known to all hunters, including the Bowmars at the time. It’s a mistake they’ll never make again, and they advise fellow hunters to become fully aware of the regulations in each state in which they plan to hunt and to follow their intuition if something feels off with who they are hunting with.
“We’re satisfied with the final outcome of our case because it was fair and aligned with the facts, but it has had serious implications for us as well. We don’t want this to come across like this conspiracy charge isn’t a big deal because it most definitely is. This comes with hefty fines, probation, and even hunting restrictions in Nebraska. This is serious, and we are taking it that way,” Josh shares. The couple has been placed on three years probation, they’re liable for $133,000 in fines, and the couple agreed to not hunt in the state of Nebraska for three years.
And while they’re willing to swallow all that, chalking it up to lessons learned the hard way, they are immensely relieved that the trial is finally over, and they want the world to know the truth.
“What we want the world to know,” Sarah shares, “is that we are not criminals. We are not bad people. And we are certainly not poachers—not only has that been proven in a court of law, but we have far too much respect for the natural world to abuse it anyway.”
She continues, “We are passionate about our sport, which is also our business; we enjoy nothing more than exposing our babies to the beauty and wonders of nature all around them; and we just want to move past this whole experience now and look forward to what the future holds for us.”
That future will no doubt hold continued commitment and active participation in the many altruistic pursuits the high-profile couple has long been engaged in. They have donated 60,000 meals to families across Africa, their generosity expanded to school supplies and educational support for various African schools. In 2020, they co-created Kids in the Outdoors, which allows children from inner city schools to immerse themselves in nature through day-long, fun-filled activities, such as archery and fishing. They are also vocal advocates for ethical hunting methods and promoters of the Dallas Safari Club’s anti-poaching efforts.
Additionally, Bowmar Nutrition is an annual sponsor of the 3rd & Goal Foundation’s holiday drive, which donates winter coats, socks, and other essentials to veterans. To date, they have also donated upwards of $300,000 of their branded supplements to nurses, teachers, and individual first responders; $279,000 worth of their products to military bases, hospitals, and police stations; and $1.4 million to food banks. The company also partners with O.U.R. (Operation Underground Railroad) to assist in the detection and arrest of child sex offenders and traffickers.
This is who the Bowmars are. This is what they dedicate their time, their hard effort, and their huge hearts to. They’ve managed to walk the road of the last nine years with honesty, dignity, and integrity, but it’s been hard—hard to work seven days a week at their businesses, start a family, and keep their spirits up while embroiled in a seemingly never-ending court case and constant scrutiny portrayal of something they are not. They are incredibly grateful to the people who stood with them throughout the ordeal and now only want to move forward.
They will remain devoted bowhunters and archers. They will remain entrepreneurial business owners and partners. They will remain utterly enamored parents to their two beautiful children. And through it all, they will “continue to educate, empower, and share our love and respect for wildlife and the outdoors,” striving to leave a positive footprint on the community they admire and revere.
Paolo Reyna

Paolo Reyna

James Pierce

James Pierce

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