Depictions of possible poaching caused Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Police to investigate and then clear the History Channel reality TV show "The Woodsmen."
The cable TV series filmed in Eastern Washington and North Idaho follows five backwoods characters who are supposedly living off the land. When the show premiered this summer, concerned citizens bombarded the WDFW's poaching hotline.
Officer Nick Parkert got the case. He said he investigated scenes that appeared to show the killing of a bighorn sheep without a tag, bird trapping and an out-of-season deer hunt. It turns out the sheep was actually raised on a game farm, the bird trap just a prop and the deer was roadkill.
"It was all smoke and mirrors,” Parkert said. “It was kind of surprising, but you know in a way not, because it's Hollywood."
The California-based production company behind "The Woodsmen" referred questions to the History Channel, which did not return several messages seeking comment.
Parkert said when he questioned the show's production company he learned the producers did familiarize themselves with fish and game regulations and seasons and were determined to stay on the right side of the law. Thus he said many scenes were staged, not real.
The case was closed with no violations cited.
Parkert said his agency's biggest concern now is that "The Woodsmen" could encourage people to try a survivalist lifestyle that flouts hunting and fishing limits.
"The message the show sends is that these people can live out in the woods on their own and not abide by any of the hunting rules and regulations that everyone else has to follow," Parkert said.
The History Channel acquired at least eight episodes of "The Woodsmen" from a studio called Relativity Television. The cable channel has not announced whether or not the show will be renewed for a second season.