Josh and Sarah Bowmar’s Name Cleared in Nebraska Case As All Hunting Charges Against Them Dropped

The Bowmars have taken hit after hit in the hunting world lately, and critics of the couple may not be happy with the recent federal court decision that dismissed all hunting violations against them, including the baiting and poaching charges.

Even so, the press has focused on the Bowmars as the face of this case rather than the Nebraska outfitter and its 33 other clients charged with hunting violations. Why? For the nine long years that the case was investigated, the couple gained quite a large social media following on Instagram and YouTube as the founders of Bowmar Archery, Bowmar Bowhunting, and Bowmar Nutrition. They believe this following has made them the biggest target in this case for click-baiting news that lacks factual information about what has happened. 

But the Bowars are now able to set the record straight. The case started in 2015 when the couple traveled to Nebraska, where they hired Hidden Hills Outfitters of Broken Bow to guide them through outfitted hunts. The company came highly recommended in the hunting world, however, Sarah and Josh did not realize that the outfitter was the subject of a multi-year sting operation by the Nebraska Fish and Game Association.

The outfitter and some of its clients were believed to be engaging in illegal poaching tactics, such as hunting at night with spotlights, hunting over bait, shooting deer without proper tags, and hunting with prohibited weapons. Although the Bowmars only bow hunt never went with the outfitter’s other clients, in hindsight, Josh states, “With everything going on behind closed doors, we should have known better, we should have paid attention, and we neglected to do so—and for that, we take full responsibility for this massive mistake.” 

Because the Bowmar’s hunting trips with this outfitter occurred between 2015 and 2017, which was in the middle of Fish and Game’s intensive investigation, they found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. As such, they became caught up with 33 other Hidden Hills clients, although it was those who were eventually charged with various violations, such as baiting and poaching. 

“Yes, this has been a classic case of ‘guilt by association’—we absolutely were not doing the things that some of the outfitter’s other clients were—but that doesn’t mean that we did nothing wrong and that we’re not taking accountability for our missteps,” Josh explains. “In the end, we believe the verdict is truthful to what happened nine years ago. All baiting and poaching charges against us were fully dismissed. In fact, all hunting violations against us were dropped. We did plead guilty to a conspiracy charge with the Lacey Act, which we felt was fair and true and take responsibility for.”

The Lacey Act is a piece of federal legislation written in 1900, and the act itself is not a hunting law but rather a form of protection for wildlife and conservation, including plants and trees. Because they’d planned to take their hunt back home to Ohio, where they lived at the time, that in and of itself violated the Lacey Act. Had the couple lived in Nebraska and taken their hunt (which consisted of two deer and a turkey) to Ohio, their violation would have carried a $75 fine, equivalent to a speeding ticket. But since they lived in Ohio, hunted in Nebraska, and then planned to take their hunt home, they were charged with a federal misdemeanor.

Although the Lacey Act is not widely known to hunters, including the Bowmars at the time, they advise fellow hunters to avoid mistakes like theirs if they do their due diligence and research the regulations in each state in which they plan to hunt.

“We’re satisfied with the final outcome of our case because it was fair and aligned with the facts, but it has had serious implications for us as well. We don’t want this to come across like this conspiracy charge isn’t a big deal because it most definitely is. This comes with hefty fines, probation, and even hunting restrictions in Nebraska. This is serious, and we are taking it that way,” Josh shares. The couple has been placed on three years probation, must pay $133,000 in fines, and agreed not to hunt in the state of Nebraska for three years.

They’re willing to chalk up their ordeal to lessons learned the hard way and are immensely relieved that the case is finally over, but, “What we want the world to know,” Sarah shares, “is that we are not criminals. We are not bad people. And we are certainly not poachers—not only has that been proven in a court of law, but we have far too much respect for the natural world to abuse it anyway.”

She continues, “We are passionate about our sport, which is also our business; we enjoy nothing more than exposing our babies to the beauty and wonders of nature all around them; and we just want to move past this whole experience now and look forward to what the future holds for us.”

That future holds a continued commitment to  educating, empowering and sharing their love and respect for wildlife and the outdoors. To date, they have donated 60,000 meals to families across Africa, in addition to school supplies and educational support for various African schools. In 2020, the Bowmars co-created Kids in the Outdoors, which allows inner-city school children to immerse themselves in nature through day-long, fun-filled activities, such as archery and fishing. They are also vocal advocates for ethical hunting methods and promoters of the Dallas Safari Club’s anti-poaching efforts.

While they acknowledge it’s been hard to work seven days a week at their businesses, start a family, and keep their spirits up during this nine-year ordeal; they are incredibly grateful to the people who stood with them and now only want to move forward.

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Mark Meets
Mark Meets
MarkMeets Media is British-based online news magazine covering showbiz, music, tv and movies
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