After poaching a desert bighorn in Utah, prominent Arizona guide loses hunting rights in 47 states

A jury in Kanab found that Larry Altimus, 69, faked living in Utah to secure one of the coveted big-game tags considered ‘huge in the hunting world.’

Most big-game hunters can go their entire lives and never get a chance to legally shoot one of Utah’s desert bighorn sheep, a privilege reserved for fewer than 40 lucky hunters each year.

After 21 failed tries, Arizona big-game hunting guide Larry Altimus finally landed such a permit in 2014 soon after taking up residence in Kanab, the Utah town on the Arizona line in the heart of desert bighorn country. But a jury later determined that Altimus was merely pretending to be a Utah resident for the sake of taking one of the state’s most valuable wildlife trophies.

In addition to a felony conviction and more than $30,000 in fines and restitution, the act of fraud will also now cost Altimus his hunting privileges, under a recent decision by a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources hearing officer. The ban will apply not just in Utah, but 46 other states as well.

While Altimus may still guide hunting clients, he cannot hunt for the next 10 years, according to DWR spokesman Mark Hadley.

“He not only stole the permit. He used the permit he wasn’t entitled to to kill an animal,” Hadley said.

Based in the southeast Arizona town of Pearce, Altimus, 69, operates his company Hunter Application Service and guides hunters in pursuit of trophy animals in several Western states. Altimus, who did not return a phone message Monday, has hunted and guided hundreds of times in the Southwest and has appeared on industry magazine covers with his trophies.

Bighorn sheep are among the most coveted big-game species to hunt. Utah’s system for issuing tags for such hunts gives an advantage to those who have tried and failed to get permits in past years.

Hunters earn a bonus point each time they unsuccessfully apply for a particular big-game species. Altimus actively sought these Utah tags, and by 2013, he had amassed 21 points toward a desert bighorn sheep, more points than earned by any in-state hunter, according to court records.

Even with this trove of points, the chance Altimus would draw a nonresident bighorn sheep permit were still slim.

“But if he claimed residency in Utah, he knew he had a good chance of drawing a permit reserved for Utah residents,” said DWR director Mike Fowlks.

Under Utah law, however, hunters are not to obtain a resident hunting permit if they move to the state for a “special or temporary purpose.” As someone who makes a living helping clients obtain hunting tags, Altimus was well aware of the rules, according to Kane County prosecutor Jeff Stott.

At trial last July, Stott had to convince a jury that Altimus knowingly took steps to illegally game Utah’s system for awarding sheep tags, which can auction for as high as $70,000.

In 2014, according to DWR data, 5,174 Utah hunters vied for 35 desert bighorn tags, while 7,184 nonresidents vied for three.

“This is a big tag,” Stott said. “It’s huge in the hunting world.”

Big enough, it appears, for Altimus to uproot his life for a few months.

In August 2013, he rented a house in Kanab, moved his belongings there and obtained a Utah driver license, according to Stott. Using the Kanab address, Altimus applied the following March, not long after meeting the six-month threshold for residency, and drew a permit to take a bighorn from the famed Zion hunting unit — just one of 11 awarded that year.

“We proved it was all for this permit,” Stott said. A few weeks after winning the tag, Altimus moved back to Arizona, then returned for the fall hunt, where he bagged a ram.

After three days of testimony in Kanab’s 6th District Court, the jury returned a guilty verdict for wanton destruction of wildlife, a third-degree felony. Judge Wallace Lee ordered Altimus to pay DWR $30,000 in restitution, payable in monthly payments of $1,000 as part of his three months on probation. He also lost his right to possess a firearm and hunt in Utah during that period. Officials had already seized the ram trophy, whose prodigious horns curled into a full circle.

But the real punishment was meted out by DWR, which filed a petition to revoke Altimus’ hunting privileges for 10 years in the states participating in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which includes all 50 states but Delaware, Massachusetts and Hawaii.

A hearing officer affirmed the recommendation, although the order could be appealed to the Utah Wildlife Board.


Grizzly involved in fatal attack on hunter will stay in K-Country with cub

By Colette Derworiz, Calgary Herald September 11, 2014

Grizzly involved in fatal attack on hunter will stay in K-Country with cub

Richard Cross was killed by a grizzly bear in Kananaskis Country on the weekend. Officials have decided against destroying the bear responsible for his death, ruling it a defensive attack.

Photograph by: Facebook photo , Calgary Herald

A grizzly bear that killed a sheep hunter in Kananaskis Country on the weekend will be left in the area with her cub, after it was ruled a defensive attack.

On the weekend, Calgarian Rick Cross was walking alone along the Picklejar Creek trail when he was attacked and killed by the bear.

“It was definitely a defensive attack, not a predatory one,” said Glenn Naylor, district conservation officer with Kananaskis Country. “That was the main decision-making factor, but we have to look at all of the evidence and all possible scenarios first.

“The evidence clearly points to the fact that he out of the blue encountered this situation and the chain of events that happened pretty quickly.”

Cross was hunting for big horn sheep Saturday, but didn’t return home that night as expected. His family reported him missing to police Sunday morning and a search began immediately.

Officers found his backpack and rifle Sunday, but had to call off the search as darkness fell and bears were still in the area. They found his remains not far from his belongings a day later.

Naylor said the evidence shows that the bear responded defensively, both because of its cub and a freshly killed deer carcass in the area.

“It attacked Mr. Cross and the result was tragic. He was killed,” he said. “After he was no longer a threat, the bear left him alone. He wasn’t touched again.”

That led biologists with both Alberta Parks and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to rule it a defensive attack.

“That was the conclusion that was arrived at by everyone,” he said, noting other options would have been to capture and relocate the bear, or destroy it.

Naylor said provincial officials have met with the Cross family about their decision to leave it alone.

“They were appreciative of all of our efforts,” he said. “They had no problem with the result.”

Kim Titchener, program director at Bow Valley WildSmart, said it’s the decision she expected.

“They have a great reputation for doing what’s right for wildlife and what’s right for public safety,” she said. “That bear isn’t a threat. She was doing what bears do.”

The Picklejar area will remain closed until the bear and her cub are finished feeding on the deer carcass.

Hunter sues over alleged fraudulent big-game hunt

Poor baby, imagine his mental distress, anxiety and loss of sleep from not receiving the right head in the mail…

Rick Vukasin is demanding reimbursement or else the original argali horns, but he said a possible exchange is complicated by international treaties governing hunting of the rare sheep, a threatened species in Tajikistan.


The Associated Press

 This December 2012 photo shows Vukasin, 65, of Great Falls, Mont., posing with a rare argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo” that he shot in the Pamir Mountains.
Enlarge this photoThis December 2012 photo shows Vukasin, 65, of Great Falls, Mont., posing with a rare argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo” that he shot in the Pamir Mountains.

Show comments         

                You travel around the world, to shoot an endanger species, and expect sympathy? What…                (February 15, 2014, by more important things)                                                        
                A good example of someone who deserves to get ripped off.                (February 15, 2014,                     
                What kind of a person would kill endangered animals for just a trophy? How infantile…                (February 15, 2014,                                                          

RENO, Nev. — A big-game hunter from Montana is suing a Canadian outfitter and a renowned hunting guide in Tajikistan he accuses of turning his once-in-a-lifetime adventure of bagging a rare, wild argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo” into a nightmare.

Rick Vukasin, 65, said in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Reno last week that he spent more than $50,000 pursuing the animal in the Pamir Mountains of northeast Tajikistan near China’s border in December 2012.

The electrician said he felt like he was literally on top of the world after he tracked, shot and killed a 400-pound, big-horned ram with the coveted, spiraling horns at an elevation of 14,000 feet. But he was mortified two months later, when he opened the box shipped to his home in Great Falls to find the horns were not the 58-inch-long ones from his trophy animal.

“I could tell right away,” Vukasin said. “I was sick.”

The native Montanan who grew up hunting deer on the eastern front of the Northern Rockies had stalked moose in Saskatchewan and red stag elk in New Zealand.

“But the thing I really wanted to do was a Marco Polo sheep hunt,” he said. He pored over books, guides and websites before settling on the excursion halfway around the world.

“The biggest of the species is in Tajikistan. So I figured if I was only going to be able to do this once, I’m going top shelf,” he said.

Vukasin and his guide, Yuri Matison, saw animals the first day but had difficulty tracking them, partly because it’s hard to breathe at that altitude, he said. But the next day he said he “felt lucky” to land a prize with a rack in “pretty good shape … not all busted up from fighting.”

The horns he ended up with are missing a few noticeable chips and weathered to the point he suspects they are at least 2 years old.

Vukasin said Matison and the booking outfitter — Ameri-Cana Expeditions of Edmonton, Alberta — first insisted the horns were the originals and then offered to send a replacement.

Vukasin is demanding reimbursement or his original horns, but he said a possible exchange is complicated by international treaties governing hunting of argali, a threatened species in Tajikistan. Only 60 permits are issued there annually for the sheep named after the 13th-century explorer.

The Safari Club International considers the argali’s horns the “most spectacular” of all the world’s sheep, according to its record book.

Vukasin said Ameri-Cana co-owner Dan Frederick dismissed his concerns, telling him “It’s just hunting.”

“Granted,” Vukasin said, “you can have bad weather or you might not see any animals or you might miss the shot. That’s hunting.

“But to shoot the animal and take pictures of it and then not to get it, somebody has to be responsible.”

Frederick didn’t return calls or email seeking comment. The Associated Press was unable to locate Matison.

Vukasin said he contacted an FBI agent in Great Falls, Mont., who indicated he probably was a fraud victim but there was little authorities could do unless they found a number of other hunters who’d also been duped.

FBI spokesman William Facer in Salt Lake City said Friday the agency could not comment.

Linda Linton, a Reno lawyer, said she filed Vukasin’s lawsuit there because Matison and Ameri-Cana advertise and do business there regularly at conventions of the Safari Club International and the Wild Sheep Foundation, the latter of which named Matison to its Mountain Hunter Hall of Fame in 2009.

Vukasin is seeking $75,000 in damages for lost money, “worry, anxiety, loss of sleep, physical and mental distress.”

“I’ve been fighting them more than a year. I finally got fed up and decided to do something about it,” he said, adding he’s convinced others have been victimized. “I have this stuff sitting in my living room and every time I look at the horns, I just get that much more mad.”

Corey Knowlton? Yup, I Hate Him Too

Corey Knowlton is the hunter who won the right to kill an endangered rhino in the Safari Club auction. This is part of trophy room (Big Horn Sheep section – Knowlton claims that he has hunted “over 120 species on every continent” – obviously many animals per species)…


…and this is what Grumpy Cat has to say about him:


BLM Puts Owyhee Bighorns at Risk !

Sheep photo copyright Jim Robertson

Sheep photo copyright Jim Robertson

A recent Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposal in the Owyhee Field Office of Idaho puts bighorn sheep at a high risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep grazing. Domestic sheep easily pass pneumonia to wild bighorn, devastating whole herds of the native ungulates through slow and painful death. Despite having spent untold thousands of taxpayer dollars to find a workable solution to keep the sheep herds apart, the BLM’s recent proposal to renew 15 livestock permits in the Jump Creek, Succor Creek, and Cow Creek watersheds of western Idaho simply ignores the science and rationalizes high levels of risk by claiming the risk is even higher elsewhere.

Western Watersheds Project’s members and supporters likely recall the Payette National Forest decision that eliminated sheep grazing on nearly 70,000 acres over three-years between 2010 and 2013. The most rewarding outcome of that decision came earlier this year, when the first bighorn ewe was spotted on one of the now-closed allotments for the first time in many decades!

On the Payette, the Forest Service limited the maximum risk of contact to just 4 percent, eliminating any possibility of allowing grazing that had a greater threat to bighorn. The BLM’s Owyhee decisions permit an annual risk of contact of over 21% on the Poison Creek Allotment! In addition, the risk increases to an astounding 45% if bighorn sheep ever reach population goals set by the Oregon and Idaho wildlife management agencies. Instead of basing the plan on conservation, BLM simply cited to other areas where it allows an even higher level of risk of contact (on the Three Fingers and Board Corrals allotments in Oregon where the risk of contact is 30% and 100%, respectively, see map).

The BLM fails to meet the objectives of the Owyhee RMP that requires protection and enhancement of bighorn populations and habitat and the reduction of the potential for disease transmission between wild and domestic sheep. The BLM should designate areas where the risk of contact threatens the viability of bighorn sheep populations as unsuitable for domestic sheep and goat grazing. Because bighorn sheep are mobile and routinely foray into new areas, this risk analysis must be conducted whenever bighorn sheep are detected in new areas outside of the previous risk analysis areas to determine the suitability of domestic sheep grazing.

WWP provided a protest of the proposed decision last week and we’re prepared to take this to court if we have to. BLM can’t just pick a number and accept the potential for domestic sheep to extirpate bighorn.

Although the protest period is over, you are welcome to contact Idaho BLM Acting State Director Tim Murphy at or give him a call at (208) 373-4001 .

If domestic sheep can’t coexist with bighorn, permittees are welcomed to retire their allotments under the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act that mandates permanent closure upon relinquishment. Interested permittees should contact for more information.

“I’d like to put an arrow in that.”

It’s bad enough to know that there are sadistic sociopaths by the thousands setting traps and snares for wolves out in Yellowstone’s tri-state area, or shooting arrows into deer throughout the Midwest and across the Mississippi; but some of these straightjacket escapees get an extra thrill, adding insult to injury, by taunting those of us who care.

Wolf advocates have been harassed, threatened and made to endure gut-wrenching photos of animals murdered in the most tweaked and twisted ways. Another favorite game the terrible-two-year-olds like to play is to post disparaging comments alongside photos of living animals they’d like to see stuffed and mounted on their trophy wall.

A recent example was a comment left under this bighorn ram photo on Exposing the Big Game’s Facebook page, “I’d like to put an arrow into that.”

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Crazed killers such as these get off on knowing how much their glib comments upset the rest of us. But, as with any bully, cyber-bullies need someone to pick on. They feed on our reactions; take that away and it leaves them feeling as impotent as they obviously are.

The thing they fear the most is being ignored—a mouse hovering over the delete button is Godzilla to them. Therefore, whenever I get one of their comments, I send it straight to the trash can and banish the sender for good measure. In an instant their power is squashed. With that one quick click of the finger, we can get some small sense of satisfaction. They can’t get to us if we don’t let them in.


Give Paul Ryan the Grand Slam

Are you tired of hearing about Paul Ryan yet? I know I am. After learning that he is a ‘diehard’ bowhunter, I didn’t think anything else about him would surprise me. But during a recent interview in Deer and Deer Hunting magazine he let slip just how much of a trophy hunter he really is.

Though he seems to actually enjoy getting his hands all bloody butchering his victims himself, the killing is clearly not about procuring cost-effective food for him—in Ryan’s own words, his fantasy dream hunt would be costly: “…one of my goals is to get a ‘grand slam’ of sheep with a bow,” Ryan told the deer-snuff magazine. “It would be very tough and very expensive.” For those lucky readers who don’t know what a ‘grand slam’ of sheep is, it’s the brutal murder of one each of the four different North American wild sheep, which include Alaska’s Dall sheep, Stone sheep (found only in northern Canada), Rocky Mountain bighorn and the Mexican desert bighorn. It’s like a golf tour for psychopathic animal killers.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Paul Ryan told Deer Hunting his idol is the first archer who shot and killed all 27 species of North American ‘big game’ during a despicable form of legal serial murder known as the ‘super slam.’ “I’m just pretty typical for a Wisconsin guy,” Ryan added, confessing: “I love hunting and fishing. Bowhunting is my passion…preparing food plots, the strategy of where a dominant buck is living or will be moving and then being in position to get a shot, that’s really exciting.” (Hmm, he and I have an altogether different idea on the definition of passion and excitement, although I suppose another one of his fellow serial killers could relate.)

There’s malevolence in the act of bowhunting and Ryan is admittedly obsessed with doing it. (The same issue of Deer and Deer Hunting that features his interview includes an article titled, “How to Recover a Bow-Shot Deer.” Obviously it’s pretty much impossible to make a ‘clean,’ instantaneous kill with an arrow.) He may never be inducted into the ‘Bowhunters Hall of Fame,’ but there’s a very real, very frightening possibility of him eventually becoming President of the United States.

The thought of a trophy bowhunter, among the most sadistic of ‘sportsmen,’ being just a heartbeat away from the presidency of the country with the most nuclear weaponry at its disposal is cause for concern, to say the least. Who’s to say he won’t get a wild hair and decide to take out a small country or two just for the sport of it? So much for compassionate leaders—half our registered voters are considering making a conscious-less animal killer our next commander-in-chief-in-waiting.

And we thought having Ronald Reagan in control of the red button was scary.

Speak Up for Wildlife During National Park Week

On the twentieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, President Obama declared this week National Park Week. Ironically, during this very week, the U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would allow hunting on our national parks! H.R. 4089, the so-called “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012,” passed the House of Representatives on April 17th and is now with the Senate. Once again the fate of our lands and waters—and the life that depends on them—has been cast into doubt. To paraphrase the president’s proclamation, as Americans and as inhabitants of this one small planet, it is up to us to preserve our national heritage for the generations (human and non-nonhuman alike) to come.

Lumped in with the “Sportsmen’s” Act are such abhorrent offerings as the Recreational Shooting Protection Act, which requires National Monument land under BLM’s jurisdiction to be open to access and use for “recreational” shooting (ground squirrels, and prairie dogs beware), and the Polar Bear “Conservation and Fairness” Act of 2012, which would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to direct the Secretary of the Interior to issue a permit for the importation of any polar bear carcass killed during a sport hunt in Canada.

As long as they remain off-limits to hunting, our national parks are some of the best places for viewing and photographing wildlife without causing undue stress. Since they’ve learned they’re safe within park boundaries, animals are not so shy and distrustful of human presence—as long as said human maintains a polite distance. And because they’re protected, park moose, elk or bighorn sheep are allowed to grow the kind of impressive antlers or horns now rare in hunted populations.


We can’t let the “Sportsmen’s Heritage Act” undermine the serenity of our last few protected places. Please contact your Senator and urge them to oppose H.R. 4089: