Two charged with running illegal hunting outfit
The Associated Press
BILLINGS — The owner of a national outfitting business has been
charged with felony counts of unlawful possession of wildlife and
outfitting without a license, Montana authorities said.
Dean Langton said Monday the case hinges on conflicting
interpretations of Montana game law.
Langton, 39, owner of the Naples, Fla.-based PanAngling/PanHunting,
was charged Nov. 20 after an undercover sting operation conducted by
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Also arrested were Tyler South, 33, of Naples, Fla., and seven
hunters from Georgia. South was charged with the same two felony counts
as Langton. The Georgia hunters face misdemeanor charges for retaining
the use or services of an unlaw-ful outfitter.
“I have no idea how long they’ve been operating (unlawfully),” said
Harold Guse, a warden captain for the department. “We have a lot to
figure out yet.”
Langton, who has a ranch in the Big Timber area, said he believed he
was operating lawfully because he had been hired by private landowners
to book hunts on their property.
“I was told by Fish, Wildlife & Parks that in the state of Montana
that you can guide on your own property or you can have an employee of
the ranch guide,” Langton told The Associated Press in a telephone
interview Monday. “What the state is saying is that since I don’t draw a
weekly paycheck, I’m not an employee.”
Langton said hunters paid an average of $2,500 for the trips, half of
which went to the landowners. He said he took his profit after paying
for expenses such as meals, lodging and transportation.
“I did this on a pretty small scale in Montana specifically to help
out three or four ranchers,” with property in the Big Tim-ber area,
Langton said. “Some of these landowners don’t have the expertise to
conduct a hunt that would justify the type of funds that we can charge
with our clientele.”
Langton and South were accused of being in possession of several
unlawfully taken big game animals shot by themselves or clients. They
also are accused of taking undercover investigators hunting without a
According to its Web site, PanAngling/PanHunting has been operating
for 25 years as an adventure travel company with destinations around the
world. The business was founded by Pat Galyan, an Indiana sporting goods
retailer. Langton bought the outfitting business in 2001 after it went
“The commercial aspect is so involved,” Guse said. “It’s one of the
more involved cases to try and figure out what all oc-curred.”
Jim Kropp, chief of law enforcement for FWP, said Langton is
“definitely somebody we don’t want operating in this manner in Montana.
The citizens of Montana don’t have to tolerate this level of abuse to
Total restitution for the big game animals shot by Langton, South and
those they guided was calculated at $19,100, FWP said.
“These guys were using landowner licenses as part of their scam,”
The Georgia hunters, who were fined $385, were identified as: Russell
J. Rhoden, 33, of Reidsville, Ga.; Levi Harry Smith, 18, of Claxton,
Ga.; Daniel Sikes, 36, of Claxton, Ga.; George B. Blocker, 44, of
Glenville, Ga.; Lee H. Smith, 59, of Claxton, Ga; Louis H. Geiger, 65,
of Glenville, Ga.; and Lee W. Burkhalter, 37, of Claxton, Ga.