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:






Image screenshot of video by Trophy Pursuit on YouTube

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10 thoughts on “Controversy over Massive Buck Leads to Inquiry Over DNR Overreach

  1. Yeah, that sounds exactly like the Iowa DNR, First step when you start an investigation – break the law. “DNR officers came on his property and took soil samples from his farm without probable cause or a search warrant” You DNR boys need to clean up your act. If your buddy with a badge commits a crime and you don’t prosecute -you are an accessory after the fact – and now a criminal with a badge.

    1. True. But, maybe they could have called the guy and asked? Then if not, pursued a warrant? Especially when you consider the accusation, as you say, came from other hunters in the area. It would be a sad america if law enforcement could come and go on private property anytime they wanted, based on allegations from the general public. If that were the case we could have Rangers trapesing all over everywhere by simply accusing someone of something. Like a witch hunt or a Saul Alinsky pattern of attack by ostracization and defamation. If the guy put out a salt lick when he bought the place it would still be measurable in the soil by hunting season. It’s an obvious overreach. Tolerating it only sets precidence for them to advance on our rights as free Americans. The fact that hunters are automatically suspected for some kind of offense is an insult. As if we are all poaching and hiding behind licensure, like we can’t help ourselves and the licenses make us legit. Get off his back, reimburse him his financial hardship, congratulate him, and move on. All you nosy Nancys should find something productive to do. This guy is getting besmirched over peer pressure like mean girls or something. Antis are gaining a foothold.

  2. Of course most don’t know the whole story, including me. But I would like to know if this deer is even “wild”. I handle literally thousands of antlers every year because of a business. This deer has ALL the character of a genetic farm/enclosure deer. Don’t be fooled hunters, this happens all the time, someone with a huge deer and if DNA was checked you wouldn’t believe how often people cheat. There is a huge racket/market for these deer. The concept of Boone and Crockett is really a joke anymore because of the farm bred/raised cervids. There are many ego maniacs out there, gotta have the best, biggest, no matter what. Many will go to great lengths to achieve this.

    1. You sound like a jealous hunter. many people go hunting for different reasons who cares if it was a fenced or non fenced deer. Still a trophy to the person who shot it.

      1. Well Kegger, I believe you may have a different concept of what real hunting is…It is definitley not a ranch raised or plotted deer. Let’s see if this hunter tries to acquire a type of “status” for this deer. He already made a video. May sell the rights to it, I don’t know. But when it comes to trophy deer, ALOT of misconceptions…Money talks…Ask a Ohioian or Pa Amish farmer what they get for offspring or breeders of a trophy raised WT…It will awaken many people.

  3. If it is true that Mr. Franz has been cleared of wrongdoing, then I hope that an organization with legal muscle will step up here, and help him recover his trophy, his financial losses and compensation for pain and suffering, to boot. Further, if it is determined that Iowa DNR acted illegally, then I hope they are prosecuted and held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

    I agree with the comment by Ock — tolerating this sort of behavior by ANY government agency is a mistake. Long term, it is the nature of government to grow and to keep
    accumulating more and more power at the expense of the common man’s freedom: Often, it is so incremental that people don’t pay a lot of attention to it. The price of freedom really IS eternal vigilance, and that’s why government overreach must be consistently confronted and, whenever possible, it must be pushed back / stamped out.

    I wish Mr. Franz all the best and Godspeed in his struggle for justice.

    1. Unfortunately, wrongdoing won’t be punished, and sanctions will be paid for by taxpayers and the bureaucrats will be undeterred – nothing coming out of their pockets.

  4. Iowa should be sued and forced to repurchase his property for him and pay him for all lsses and persinal suffering.
    I know that will never happen, but it is what is fair for his trobles.

  5. I’m not a hunter, yet this still enrages me ! What the heck is going on with all these agencies abusing their authority, steam-rolling and bulldozing their way into everything? Was this some kind of a test ?,making an example of this poor guy?,ruining his friggin’ life? TIRED OF ALL THIS HORSE_S&IT !!

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