Edit 2-24-2016: An update on the Joe Franz case can be read here.
The continuing saga of a massive buck harvested in Iowa has now resulted in an inquiry by lawmakers in how much power the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has, and whether or not an investigation into a baiting charge is an example of overreach. The controversy began in 2014 when Iowa hunter Joe Franz harvested a large buck on his property that greenscored 258 and 7/8. At the time, he claimed it was the largest buck ever killed on film. Last November however, the Iowa DNR charged Franz with four counts of hunting deer over bait and confiscated the taxidermied mount of the buck.
According to Franz, DNR officers came on his property and took soil samples from his farm without probable cause or a search warrent. Franz’s lawyer, Bill Kutmus, later said that the DNR was taking advantage of a vague law to persecute Franz. Currently under state law, Kutmus says there is no specification about how far a hunter has to be from something considered bait or how long the bait should be removed before hunting can begin. It is even possible for a hunter to be charged because minerals from a salt block have seeped into the ground.
Understandably, the allegation that the DNR went on Franz’s property without a warrant from a judge concerned many hunters. State Senator Jake Chapman is among those worried, along with State Representative Clel Baudler, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
As a former law enforcement officer himself, Baudler says he is questioning the DNR’s actions.
“Going on private property without a warrant, that is questionable. If they remove anything while on private property, then they really could have problems,” he told Raccoon Valley Radio.
Chris Dunkin, founder and president of Trophy Pursuit, reported recently that Franz has been cleared of the baiting charges in court, but has yet to receive his mount back. OutdoorHub is attempting to independently verify this report.
“The court has spoken. Justice has been served, and Franz is innocent,” Dunkin wrote on Facebook. “The IDNR and many others have not only tarnished Franz’s name and reputation but have created a financial hardship for him and his family throughout the process, which forced him to sell his land to pay for the costs associated with this trial.”
Franz said earlier that he had purchased the 80-acre parcel of land last June, but sold it to pay for court costs.
You can see the hunt for the buck below: