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Updated 11/8/11 – 5:33 p.m.
MORRIS, Ill. (CBS) — The State’s Attorney of Grundy County southwest of Chicago has brought poaching charges against three men who allegedly killed a valuable deer on private property.
As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the men allegedly harvested a 36-point buck with a rack, or antler set, valued at $35,000.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
When the deer was brought down by an arrow it was thought for a time to be a record breaker.
“It was the second biggest non-typical archery kill,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer David Wollgast.
Grundy County State’s attorney Jonathan Bates says the buck was illegally killed on property owned by Materials Services near Morris. The buck was just one of 24 deer taken by the men in Illinois and Canada, prosecutors said.
“(The charges) all revolve around unlawful hunting on the land of another without permission of the owner or tenant; hunting without valid deer permits,” Bates said.
Charged in the Grundy County case are Christopher Kiernan, 45, of Minooka; Garret Armstrong, 31, of Avon, N.Y.; and Larry Smith, 49, of Williamsburg, Ontario, Canada.
“I’ve only been charged. I have not been convicted. So, I am not going to speak about it,” said Kiernan as he spoke through a crack in his front door on Tuesday.
While he wasn’t talking about his prowess with the bow on Tuesday, he wasn’t shy about posing with the animal in the past. A photo on the Prairie State Outdoors website shows him posing with the deer.
“World class deer … can change a hunter’s life,” said Illinois DNR Conservation Officer Matt Anderson.
He also said becoming a hunting celebrity or turning pro is fine if the kill is legal, but he said poachers deserve no such recognition.
“It’s not just cheating. It’s unethical, obviously, but hunting on lands without permission of the owner is illegal,” Anderson said. “A hunter, by law, must know where he’s at at all times.”
There are thousands of densely forested land on the property of the Material Services Corporation and hunting has never been allowed there. That’s why some hunters are willing to risk being prosecuted for a shot at taking home a prize-winning buck.
In a parallel investigation, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has charged five men from Illinois and Michigan with poaching, for unlawfully hunting and taking away 31 whitetail deer.
In that case, the largest deer – taken from an unspecified location in Cook County – was a buck with a $25,000 antler set.
Charged in that case are Douglas Bergsma of Rockford, Mich.; his sons – Louis Bergsma of Galena; Jonathan Bergsma of Ada, Mich., and Daniel Bergsma, also of Ada, Mich.; and Tom Hedke of Caledonia, Mich.
The poaching charges are misdemeanors that could possibly include jail time upon conviction. The busts cap months of investigation.