The Lacey Act prohibits the interstate transport of any wildlife taken in violation of state regulations. In Coldwater, Kansas, James and Marlin Butler operated a hunting camp which promoted the illegal taking of deer. For at least three years, hunters trekked to Camp Lone Star and paid thousands to hunt Bambi. Sounds sporting doesn’t it—hunters were unlicensed; hunters used firearms during archery season, and hunters “spot lighted” deer during evening hunts.

The Butlers admitted their violations of the Lacey Act and James also pleaded guilty to obstructing justice for ordering an employee to get rid of several white-tailed deer mounts after wildlife officers began conducting interviews in Texas regarding the federal investigation.

When the Butlers were first sentenced, their guidelines were tethered to the cost of the guided hunt rather than the actual retail value of the deer that were harvested. James was ordered to serve 41 months in prison and pay a $25,000 fine and $25,000 in restitution. Marlin was sentenced to serve 27 months in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $10,000 in restitution

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed these sentences and concluded the district court erred when it based these sentences on the cost of the hunt as opposed to the retail value of the deer. On remand, James’ sentence was reduced to 10 months whereas his brother’s sentence was reduced to 8. District Court Judge Belot was not satisfied with the evidence adduced by the government to establish the value of the deer so he gave it no value, thereby resulting in the precipitous fall of the Butlers’ guideline sentencing range.