A big ego is a poacher's Achilles' heel.
Wildlife enforcement agents are well aware that the greediness that leads to illegally shooting a trophy animal usually is accompanied by a personality that feeds on the stature accrued from big talk.
"Our main source in making big-game cases are from people bragging," said Capt. Mike Whorton, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional enforcement supervisor. "We've always encouraged officers to visit in small businesses and coffee shops, to make contacts and make themselves available to people who might have heard something."
The Internet has become equally fertile ground, not just for big cases, but also for enforcing minor infractions an officer isn't likely to catch in the field.
A photo posted in a chat room is worth a thousand words, as well as many hours of work by fish and wildlife agents.
Two photos published this summer on the Lewiston Tribune's online outdoors Brag Board caught the attention of Idaho Fish and Game Department staffers.
One photo showed a good-size bull trout. The other featured three anglers with a massive white sturgeon.
In both cases, the anglers were holding the fish out of the water.
That's a no-no with these protected species, as well as wild chinook salmon, according to state fishing regulations. Photos are OK, but the fish must remain in the water.
The Internet photo led one angler to get a $109 ticket. The other received a warning from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In another case, a Boise man has been convicted of illegally guiding anglers on one of Idaho's premier trout fisheries, the South Fork of the Boise River.
Christopher Bentley, 26, was cited for guiding without a license and for fishing with a barbed fly in barbless waters after he advertised his illegal guiding services on Craigslist.
His fishing gear, including a drift boat, fly rod and reel, were seized as evidence in the case.
He was assessed more than $1,100 in fines and court costs, 40 hours of community service and his fishing privileges were suspended for two years.
Monitoring the Internet also has given wildlife agents insight on people who boast online about their fishing and hunting exploits.
"By surfing certain types of Internet pages, like the 'big buck' sites, we are finding issues that at least prompt a cursory investigation," Whorton said.
"However, a lot of time, they turn out to simply be liars' pages."