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July 15, 2008

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Discussion Topic: The Rise And Fall Of Kirt Darner

From the Denver Post:

Kirt Darner, a once legendary hunter and outfitter, is now branded a felon who broke the rules, not the records. As bloggers on hunting websites put it, he has dropped from the penthouse to the outhouse. He can never hunt, fish or own a firearm again.

Darner, 69, pleaded guilty last month in New Mexico to illegally transporting wild elk and receiving stolen bighorn sheep heads — charges that cap what appears to be a series of lies and cheating that span at least 30 years, driven by a passion to claim more records and more trophy heads than anyone else.

Be sure to check out the full article chronicling the once-legendary guide’s rise and fall—and tell us your reaction to whole sordid story, now that it appears to be over.



It just goes to show you what happens when "trophy hunting" goes to the extreme and big money gets involved.

It can take even the most honest of men and turn them into liars, thieves and poachers.

Sad, sad, sad.....


Blue Ox

Here be proof that no matter who you are or what you're doing, the law of averages will catch up to you sooner or later.


I remember this guy when he first hit the news. He was on the cover of most of the outdoor mags (including this one) being touted as the greatest trophy mule deer hunter of all time. I hope F&S, as well as other publications draw the appropriate lessons. I'll go back to that old saying, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."


Kirt who?


I remember as a kid looking at the photos of this guy with Remington and he had pictures of all of this huge mule deer racks on a side of log house. I thought to myself that if I ever see half of the bucks that he has shot I would be happy. What a shame.

Joe Wood

Yeah, and always keep in mind if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn't. Doesn't matter if you're promoting a bow company, a black powder rifle company, or yourself, nobody, but nobody can collect all those trophies honestly, ethically, and by fair chase. Law of averages just does not allow it.


what sucks is that darner and poachers of his ilk reflect poorly upon us hunters who obey the game laws, practice good sportsmanship and are ethical, true hunters...


That guy is the kind of trash that calls himself a sportsman/hunter and gives us all a bad name. I hope he gets his due.


By the way, I had never heard of him until now. Legend?

Walt Smith

People like him are why the words Trophy Hunters, and Shooter just sicken me. So the guy was a poacher for 30 years. Why did it take 30 years to catch him?


The root of the problem is: EGO!!!

As a young, intelligent, able-bodied hunter nearly 40 years ago, I pulled a really stupid stunt that I thought at the time was really cute.
Problem was, once I pulled the trigger, it couldn't be...
bragged about.
shown around.
even talked about.
Once this facet of the problem arose, my ego deflated, I have never; repeat, NEVER; done it again! Nor will I ever, unless extremely hungry!
Had Darner kept his mouth shut, he probably would have gotten away with it, but once the public got wind of his successes, it just fueled his ego even more.



Here we go again. This time it's Kirt Darner.

Another Very Sad chapter and Black eye for all of the hunting community!

Each of the Whitetail Bucks I have mounted on my wall are my personal trophys, some do not meet B&C or Pope and Young Minimums but they represent many hundreds of hours sitting in a treestand in all kinds of weather and an enormous amount of money and time hunting in Canada and most of the mid west states, And the memories of the hunts will always be with me. When I see all these so called Hero's I sometime wonder how they have such great sucess as I have hunted in many of the same places that they do.

I do remember many years ago going to a Pope and Young Awards Dinner in Bismark North Dakota and meeting My Hero at the time Noel Feather. I at the time only dreamed of someday being able to take at least one Whitetail trophy the size of his many trophys.

I did meet Noel Feather many more times at the Harrisburg outdoor show in Harrisburg Pennsylvania where he had some of his many trophys in his booth and a full line of deer calls and other items for sale.

One year while waiting in line to get into the show Noel Feather walked by myself and and My Hunting Buddy, I pointed out Noel Feather but my Buddy did not know who he was,I told My Buddy I had had Dinner and breakfast with Noel at the Pope and Young Dinner years ago and he knew me, I told my Buddy I would introduce him to Noel and we got out of the line we where in and followed Noel with another Guy to the very rear of the parking lot, We stopped and watched as the Guy he was with opened up a Van that was full of Trophy whitetail Racks.

As we got closer the Guy who had the Van started talking about prices of each of the Trophy racks he had.

We backed off and later inside the show we spotted Noel again with the same Guy who owned the Van in the Guys booth where there was still more trophy Whitetails mounted, again we over heard them disscussing prices and heard Noel Feather making offers on some of them.

We backed off and later on as I was very suspicious I went outside to my truck and got my carmera, I took pictures of all of the Whitetails that where in this Guys booth, (yes some where Boone and Crocket heads)that he and Noel discussed prices about and thought that sooner or later they might somehow show up in Noel Feather's Booth.

But the Feds caught up with Noel Feather first and he was Busted the following fall and all of his so Called Trophy Boone and Crocket and Pope and Young entries including whitetails, sheep and Big Horn sheep where removed from all of the Record books.

So much for my hero Noel Feather.

Another prominent So called Hunting Hero was Kelly Cooper from Picture Rocks Pennsylvania, He started out honest making very good turkey calls and winning many turkey calling contest, and then he got into making Deer calls and many Trophy Whitetails started showing up in his booth and in his advertisments and brochure.

I think the presssure from having to produce Great Whitetails or other game animals each year also got to Kelly Cooper as he also got BUSTED by the Feds and faded off into the sunset with Noel Feather and their likes.

These are just two examples of what greed can do to some, I'm not at all surprised anymore when I see any of the So called Heros of Hunting get busted as I know how hard it is to take any trophy animal and for them to do it year in and year out is almost and possibly impossible.



I remember reading about Kirt Darner years ago when I lived in Colorado. I was amazed that he seemed to consistently find large Mule deer to hunt because there just didn't seem to me to be that many. At least I very rarely saw anything of that size and when I did it wasn't deer season so all I could do was stand there with my mouth open and curse myself for not having my camera. If he has been cheating for 30 years as the article implies then he was cheating when I first read about him so many years ago. From that I would say he's been a poacher probably longer than he was a hunter.


Back in the late 60's and early 70's, one of the greatest poachers was operating in "Muy Grande" country in S. Texas. He quietly went about his trade, collecting, mounting and selling his "trophies" to people wanting big heads for office walls and weren't that concerned with cost or fair chase. He was finally caught when a young man talked the poacher to take him along on a hunt. The young man got lost and began shooting. The poacher fired one shot to attract the young man, but it was too late. They were located and turned in by the rancher.
He did his time and paid his fine, but never revealed a purchaser that I'm aware of!



It's a shame but when big money got involved in the outdoor sports, greed followed. I never heard of this guy and don't really care about who get's a pope and young or whatever. I hunt and fish to enjoy the outdoors with my relatives and friends. A successful hunt is just a byproduct of that experience.


Luckily I will never have to feel the "pressure" that professional sport/trophy hunters feel because they turned it into a career where they have to have B&C or Pope results. The biggest shame to me is that they lost sight of what hunting is all about- being in the woods, hills, and valleys away from every day work stress. That to me is what hunting is about. It doesn't hurt that you get to take meat home occassionally either.

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