Montgomery, Alabama — A 10-count lawsuit filed on May 26 by the state of Alabama against Buckmasters, a deer-hunting association headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, now casts doubt on the validity of its 325,000 members and magazine subscribers.

In the court filing, the State’s attorney general Steven T. Marshall alleges Buckmasters has, “signed consumers up for Buckmasters memberships without their express verifiable authorization.”

The Attorney General filed the action as a violation of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, Alabama’s charity fraud statutes and the Alabama Telemarketing Act.

Allegations listed in the lawsuit include claims that Buckmasters enrolled consumers for memberships without their express verifiable authorization. According to the court filing, people who were contacted by telemarketers and declined to purchase a membership were sent a membership anyway:

Numerous consumers have reported that Buckmasters has signed them up for memberships without their authorization. These unauthorized memberships were typically created the same way. A Buckmasters salespersons would call a consumer and try to sell a membership, usually for a five-year period. The consumer would decline to purchase the membership but would often agree to review literature about it. But rather than send literature to the consumer, the salesperson would actually sign the consumer up for a membership without his or her authorization.

Once an unauthorized consumer was signed up for a Buckmasters membership, the consumer would be billed. The State alleges Buckmasters engaged in “aggressive — and illegal — collection efforts …” Collections involved sending five bills to customers. The state claims the language in those bills becomes progressively more aggressive with each bill issued.

Among other wrongdoings listed by the state of Alabama is the Attorney General’s claim that Buckmasters made false representations to consumers during the course of its telemarketing activities. This included simply refusing to cancel memberships.

When this article was published, there had been no official statement released by Buckmasters. However, the deer-hunting association provided this statement to Outdoor Life magazine:

“The entire staff at Buckmasters, Inc. is grateful to the Office of the Attorney General of Alabama for helping us correct this situation,” founder Jackie Bushman said. “We are a proud 30-year-old organization that works hard daily to promote a positive image for thousands of members, deer hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts, sports writers, conservationists and families nationwide.”

Buckmasters was founded in 1986 when 29-year-old Jackie Bushman created the deer-hunting association to encourage a feeling of community, sportsmanship and wildlife conservation. In 1987, Bushman published the first issue of the group’s publication, Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine.

Since its inception, Buckmasters has created additional magazines and hunting-themed television shows. Buckmasters American Deer Foundation was also created as a nonprofit arm of Buckmasters. Its mission is to give hunters a pathway to support deer hunting through conservation, programs to help people with disabilities go afield, educational programs and initiatives to feed the hungry.

For more information on Buckmasters, go to buckmasters.com. For more information on the state of Alabama’s lawsuit, you can download the court filing here.

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