Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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TV deer hunters latest to face Illinois charges

Springfield — The state’s latest deer hunting scandal can best be summed up by making a simple adjustment to ancient advice.

Don’t get bitten by the hand that feeds you.

To wit: An outdoors television show that relied on social media for exposure and promotion apparently became the subject of an Illinois Conservation Police investigation after a CPO became suspicious while watching clips of the show on…  social media.

Owners, pro staff and guest hunters from Wired Arrow Outdoors are being charged with 134 wildlife violations, including the taking of 18 deer illegally in the state. News of the charges came on Dec. 3, when DNR announced a list offenses involved in illegal hunts. According to DNR, a CPO was watching videos of hunts that aired on YouTube. The CPO recognized scenes, landscapes and backgrounds in many of the videos, and a subsequent investigation “determined that hunting and filming were conducted on properties in the Chicago region without permission from landowners, making hunting permits invalid.” Filming of the suspect hunts allegedly took place in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, the Village of Lansing and on properties owned by private companies.

A joint operation involving several state and federal agencies began on Sept. 16 and included interviews of all pro-staff members who had previously hunted in Illinois.

Rafael Gutierrez, DNR’s chief of law enforcement, said that it was determined that Wired Arrow pro-staff members had unlawfully harvested 18 deer, including 10 bucks and eight does, nearly all of which were aired either on YouTube or the

Pursuit Channel. DNR initially indicated that the hunts also appeared on the Sportsman Channel, but a representative of that company issued a statement on Dec. 4 saying the Sportsman Channel has no connection to the Wired Arrow series or its producers. “The show never aired on Sportsman Channel,” Shannon Kolpin, a public relations assistant with The Sportsman Channel, said.

Illinois hunters reacted quickly to the charges.

“The deer hunting ‘industry’ is becoming more sickening with each passing year as evidenced by (this case),” Don Higgins, a typically outspoken hunter, author and founding member of the Illinois Whitetail Alliance, said. “Hunting has gone from being a solitary sport enjoyed without competition to a spectator sport with one ego-freak after another vying for first place in the biggest head contest. Outdoor television and hunting product companies are a big part of the problem promoting one kill-monger after another in a race to separate hunters from their money while also pacifying fragile egos. Today, deer hunting lacks for some true role models.”

Illinois is no stranger to deer fraud. This past spring, blogger and Illinois deer “personality” Marc Anthony was accused of misrepresenting some of the trophy deer he had killed and subsequently used to promote himself and his business.

Three years ago, Christopher Kiernan, of Minooka, was charged in a poaching case that involved a 36-point non-typical buck. Kiernan had gained national notoriety for the deer, but it was later learned he harvested the animal on property where he did not have permission to hunt. In fact, hunting was not allowed on the property that belonged to a private company.

Similar circumstances are part of the recent charges filed by DNR. The names of those charged on Dec. 3 and some of the violations:

  •  David T. Brugger (co-owner of Wired Arrow) 7 counts of Hunting without Permission, 7 counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 7 counts of Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer
  •  Jessica E. Stoner (Pro-Staff) 1 count Hunting without a License, 1 count Hunting without a Habitat Stamp, 1 count Hunting without Permission
  •  Ryan T. Ederer (co-owner of Wired Arrow) 6 counts Hunting without Permission, 6 counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits,
  •  Nathan C. Fahndrich (Pro-Staff) 3 counts Hunting without Permission, 3 counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits
  •  Joseph M. Cater (Pro-Staff) 1 count Hunting Without Permission, 1 count Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits
  •  Wade R. Childs (Pro-Staff) 2 counts Accessory Hunting Without Permission, 2 counts Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits
  •  Jeremy F. Howard (Pro-Staff) 1 count Hunting Without Permission
  •  Michael W. Porter (Guest) 1 count Hunting without Permission, 1 count Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits
  •  Susan J. Porter (Guest) 1 count Accessory to Hunting without Permission, 1 count Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits


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