Troy Shenk and son with a dandy Colorado timber buck
In late October, Colorado BHA member Troy Shenk took his 15-year-old son out for mule deer in the mountains outside Paonia. En route, Shenk witnessed two other hunters operating ATVs on a route closed to motorized use, in clear violation of posted signs. With his knowledge of the regulations and the impacts of illegal OHV use on habitat, big game populations and the experiences of other hunters, Shenk chose to report this illegal activity to USFS Law Enforcement Officer Mike Fuller, who was able to follow up and issue citations to both hunters with that information. In the process, Officer Fuller was also able to cite two additional parties violating posted trail use regulations.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks Mr. Shenk and Officer Fuller for their work in helping protect our public lands from illegal use. When we reached out to Mr. Shenk to offer a reward for his report he declined, offering this statement instead:
While I appreciate your offer for the reward, I wouldn't feel right gaining financially for helping protect our public lands. I also would prefer for BHA to keep this money and use it elsewhere to help keep our public lands available for current and future generations.
Quite honestly, I feel the reward I get for the actions I have already received, which has been a lifetime of access to some of the greatest and breathtaking backcountry hunting, fishing, and camping in the world. This particular hunt was one of the most rewarding for me, as my 15-year-old son was able to successfully harvest his first buck at 10,500 ft, and 5 miles from the truck. The experience of having a successful spot and stalk hunt that took all day, the hard work of packing it out, and most importantly the connection of spending time together is what I believe to be a cocktail of immeasurable value to his self-confidence, maturing and development as a young man. To have the added bonus of having him witness and be a part of the entire process of successfully prosecuting illegal OHV use just further ingrains a value system that was fortunately passed down to me by my own Father and Grandad.
I have been a member of BHA since the very first time I was introduced to this organization and have really benefited from this organization in many ways. Not only is it great to simply have a cohort of like-minded people to share stories and experiences of the complete badassery and pleasure that comes from deep backcountry experiences, I have also made use of the updates and notices you provide to contact legislators and senators on public land issues. In fact, a recent article you published helped remind me of the proper steps to take to competently gather the information necessary to help officer Fuller have the tools and info he needed to successfully issue citations for the illegal OHV use I witnessed. In a time when it feels hard to have a potent individual voice, I feel BHA has helped empower me to actually make a difference and be part of a community that makes a difference in an area that is a great passion in our lives.
I believe that the officers that were involved in writing these citations are the real workhorses in this situation and are the ones that deserve the real commendations. While I have turned in info on several illegal motor vehicle uses in my lifetime, this is the first that I know of that actually resulted in a conviction. From what I understand, it took Officer Fuller three separate days of patrolling this area to actually make contact and issue the citations. I am very grateful for his and Andrew Taylor's persistence in this matter.
Once again. thanks to you and BHA, keep up the good work...sincerely..Troy Shenk
To help encourage sportsmen and public land users to continue our longstanding tradition of policing our own ranks, BHA offers up to $500 in rewards for reports or information leading to a conviction of illegal motorized users. By collecting the vehicle identification number, the location where the offense occurred and any photographs that would be helpful in weeding-out those who threaten our sporting heritage and namesake. Report illegal OHV use to your local game warden and/or land manager (see info. needed below) and help ensure that we continue to have quality habitat, hunts and access for all.
- Date, location and description of the incident - when, where, what and who you saw. Collect as many details as possible, including: GPS points, name of road or trail head, etc.
- Photos of the identification number from the OHV's permit, serial number, and/or the license plate of the owner's truck.
- Photos, supporting statements from other witnesses and any other documentation that you can gather.
If you are interested in claiming a reward through BHA's OHV Reward Fund Program, please send us an email with "OHV Reward Fund" in the subject line. Please include the information listed above, in addition to details on:
- How your report helped lead to the conviction of the illegal OHV user.
- Name and contact information for the officer that made the conviction.
- Status/result of prosecution.
*Note that this is the same information that you should collect and provide to the local land manager to help ensure a proper conviction can be made. Get as much information as you can safely, more is better then not enough, but do not risk your own safety while getting the information.