DES MOINES, Iowa–It’s a deer hunter’s dream says Iowan Joe Franz. “I’ve hunted for 40 years and never even seen a deer come close to the deer famously named Palmer.”
Just over a year ago, after months of pursuing Palmer, Joe Franz captured that dream on video during a hunt in Marion County. “I never in a million years thought I’d actually harvest a deer of that caliber.”
Franz says he went to great lengths to prove the hunt was done the proper way. He said, “The main reason we filmed the hunt was to let people share the distinct honor of being a part of this buck’s life and to dispel the naysayers that may be out there.”
Nearly 12 months later, the Department of Natural Resources says it was done illegally. Franz, said, “I am outraged by the accusations against me and my family and charges before me.”
Franz was charged with four counts of hunting over bait. DNR spokesperson Kevin Baskins clarified the law saying, “It’s any time somebody places a kind of artificial material designed to attract wildlife in their hunting zone. We consider that bait.”
A law that Franz and his lawyer Bill Kutmus feel is far too vague. Kutmus said, “A DNR officer can pick and choose who he wants to prosecute because of the vagueness. It’s like having a secret law in your pocket.”
DNR officials say each charge could result in a fine of nearly $200. Kutmus said, “What these charges amount to, because they are vague, it gives a black eye to the state of Iowa in terms of hunting.”
Franz says he’s putting it all on the line to fight the case. “I did have to sell my land and I closed on selling my land yesterday so I’d have the means to fight the battle that has ensued. I want to ensure that there’s not another Iowa hunter that has to endure the pain and suffering my family and I had to incur.
Franz also has handed over his hunting weapon, and the mounted trophy buck to the DNR. A preliminary hearing could take place in the next several weeks.