State, Federal game wardens list waterfowl violations as reason for raid

Earlier this week it was announced state and federal wildlife officials raided Eagle Head Outfitters, a hunting operation in Grenola, in late January. Grenola is a small town in southwestern Elk County, about 80 miles east of Wichita.

The following is some of what was contained in the application for a search warrant filed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on a court document dated Jan. 20. The observations were made by undercover game wardens for Fish and Wildlife and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

So far, no charges have been filed.

Nobody at Eagle Head Outfitters can be reached for comment.

Game wardens said they can not comment on the on-going investigation, and had no idea when charges might be filed..

Listed as staff for Eagle Head Outfitters was Josh Hedges, owner, and Cale Ellis, Jerad Stroot and Allen Stroot, guides.

Tips from past clients who witnessed several game law violations, including guides illegally shooting at hawks and other birds of prey led to the investigation.

Undercover officers from Wildlife and Parks and the Fish and Wildlife booked waterfowl and deer hunts with Eagle Head Outfitters as part of their investigation. Hedges was paid for both hunts. The deer hunt was $6,000, for two people, and at least one game warden shot a deer with his bow.

Most of the violations in the report pertained to illegally hunting waterfowl.

Illegally using an electronic call to call to waterfowl was mentioned several times.

Officers reported that corn, soybeans, milo and wheat were used to illegally bait ponds and rivers.

Waterfowl was shot out of season, especially white-fronted geese. Daily limits were surpassed, including when another Eagle Head client told game wardens he’d shot 18 ducks one day. The legal limit was six.

The report listed several instances when guides insisted hunters shoot their limit, too, which is illegal. Wardens also said they observed hunters illegally hunting with four shells in their shotguns, though a maximum of three is the legal limit.

Numerous references were made as per waterfowl being stacked in large piles, with no identification tags to say which hunter shot a particular bird.

It also states guides and clients removed just the breast meat from the birds, meaning no feathers were left attached, as mandated by law, to distinguish the duck’s species and gender.

Possession limits were often topped, which are equivalent to three daily bag limits.

Game wardens used GPS devices placed on guide’s vehicles to learn where they were hunting, to check for illegal activity, like baiting, later.

A utility company assisted in putting a surveillance camera near Eagle Head headquarters, in Grenola.

Court documents show that waterfowl, firearms, photos, cameras, phones and a laptop were confiscated during the raid.