ALVA — Angry hunters and landowners have sparked a state investigation of a Coweta man accused of organizing guided hunts on private Oklahoma land he didn’t own or lease.
Hunters have complained for years to Oklahoma law enforcement authorities about deer and quail hunts organized by James Adam "A.J.” Jenkins. The complaints have come from western Oklahoma landowners as well as hunters located in North Carolina, Maryland, Arkansas and several other states.
"To do that with people that carry guns is pretty stupid,” said Rob Sample, an Arkansas man who said he was part of a group of 12 hunters who were duped into paying Jenkins $20,000 in advance last spring for a quail hunt this coming November. "We’re not that kind ... but he could sure put together a lynch mob really easily if he weren’t careful.”
Sample, 50, said his group tried unsuccessfully to get its money back after one of Jenkins’ guides called and warned them that Jenkins had repeatedly gotten hunters in trouble by putting them in situations where they were trespassing.
Jenkins, 38, denies trying to defraud hunters.
"I know there are several complaints and those are ... being managed,” Jenkins said. "Overwhelmingly our business is a legitimate business where we do well with most of our customers and we want to fix any problems that we’ve had. There’s definitely not some coordinated effort to try to run hunts where people don’t belong.”
History of problems
Controversy surrounded Jenkins long before Sample’s group met up with him. Hunters who had been dropped off by Jenkins or his hired guides were caught trespassing on private property in Woods County on three separate occasions in October and November 2007.
In a sworn affidavit, game ranger Terry Swallow described a heated meeting he and fellow game ranger Ben Bickerstaff had with "21 mad hunters” who all had paid $800 for a three-day hunt, only to discover that hunters had been "put on property that they did not have permission to hunt.”
"A.J. Jenkins showed up to see what was wrong and the confrontation became so heated that Ben had to get between Jenkins and one of the hunters,” Swallow wrote.
Jenkins subsequently was charged with four misdemeanor counts of hunting without permission.
In April of this year, prosecutors dismissed all four counts.