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Officers seize trophy buck from an illegal Indiana kill
Indiana conservation officers concluded a detailed deer investigation on Dec. 3 for a trophy buck killed in Randolph County. After field officers began investigating reports of a poached buck, detectives from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Investigative Section were called to assist.

Following an interview with officers, Austin M. Spain, of Lynn, Ind., admitted to illegally shooting a trophy 16-point buck during the Indiana firearms deer season the weekend of Nov. 17-18. The trophy buck is believed to score in the 180 range by Boone and Crockett scoring methods.

Initial information led investigators to believe the deer was killed in Michigan. Subsequent investigation by detectives and Michigan conservation officers found Spain had not purchased a deer license nor did he have documentation for possession of a deer from Michigan. Additional research found the trophy at a taxidermist’s shop in Eaton, Ind., where it was seized.

Spain is facing multiple charges for allegedly illegally taking, possessing, transporting and tagging the buck.

Licensed, ethical hunters know the rules and play by the rules, but poachers don’t. Hunting season increases the likelihood law-abiding hunters will encounter poaching, which is the illegal taking of fish, game or non-game wildlife.

When an incident is revealed, DNR Law Enforcement urges hunters to use the Turn in a Poacher or Polluter hotline to file a complaint. Anyone may use the TIP hotline, but hunters are more likely to witness violations.

It’s quick and simple to report a violation. The toll-free number is 800-TIP-IDNR (847-4367). Complaints also may be filed online at

Citizen’s tip helps close whooping crane case

A citizen tip helped bring closure in the case involving a whooping crane shooting in Indiana. John Burke and Jason McCarter of Knox County pled guilty and were sentenced on Nov. 21 for their involvement in the shooting of a whooping crane in Knox County.
Wildlife law enforcement agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement and DNR investigated the case and reported a plea agreement was reached.

The crane was last observed alive by an International Crane Foundation volunteer on Jan. 7. On Jan. 21, a conservation officer received voluntary information from a citizen concerning the possible shooting of a whooping crane, which led to charges against McCarter and Burke.

The whooping crane killed was taught its migratory path by ultra light aircraft and belonged to a nesting pair, and was one of approximately 100 birds left in the Eastern Fly Way.

Burke and McCarter were charged and sentenced in United States District Court in Terre Haute. As part of the plea agreement, they each received three years probation and are required to pay a donation of $5,000 to the International Crane Foundation, must perform 120 hours community service at the DNR Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area and are not allowed to hunt during the term of the probation.

In addition to the Endangered Species Act, whooping cranes are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and state laws. An investigation into the killing of a second whooping crane in Jackson County continues. Anyone with information may call the TIP hotline at 800-TIP-IDNR.

Suspect’s goose (actually, turkey) was cooked
Indiana conservation officers charged 55-year-old Richard H. Tomasik of Avon with allegedly taking a wild turkey during closed season. He was arrested Dec. 1 after officers found him at his Avon home cooking the illegally killed bird.

Officer Jeff Wells said when he arrived at the Tomasik residence to question him about his involvement in the reported poaching incident, he found the suspect in his garage deep-frying the turkey.
Wells said Tomasik admitted to shooting the wild turkey while deer hunting on private property west of Cloverdale in Putnam County, earlier in the day. A concerned hunter reported the incident to conservation officers after encountering Tomasik in the woods carrying the dead turkey.

The fall season for hunting wild turkeys with a firearm closed Oct. 28. The offense is a Class B misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment up to 180 days and a fine of up to $1000. Both the partially cooked turkey and shotgun used to kill it were seized as evidence from the suspect.

Officers encourage citizens to report the unlawful taking of our fish and wildlife resources by calling 800-TIP-IDNR.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Jack Spaulding may contact him by email at or by writing to him in care of this publication.