But that went down the drain when the buck was poached. Troy Alan Reinke of Cannon Falls, Minn., pleaded guilty to three wildlife-related counts, including illegally possessing the trophy buck. He was sentenced to 245 days in jail, paid more than $2,100 in fines and restitution, lost his archery equipment and had his hunting privileges revoked for five years.
And he left the DNR with one of the biggest whitetails in state history.
“We inherited a very unique problem,’’ Tietz said.
The original rack has been displayed at the State Fair and Deer Classic show, among others, always under the watchful eye of a conservation officer. But officials feared it might be damaged or stolen, so the replicas were made recently.
Using the original antlers, Livingood casts a mold, then uses polyurethane “plus a trade secret’’ to make the reproductions.
“The rack is as heavy as the original,’’ he said.
But the plastic is almost white and must be painted. And a good paint job is key.
“It’s all done with brushes and oil paint, no airbrushes,’’ Livingood said. When painted correctly “the majority of people can’t tell the difference.’’
Said Tietz: “I’ve had them side by side, and you can’t tell which is real.’’
He said the DNR can tell the public about the problems of poaching and why they need citizens to report suspected cases, but the antlers on the Wall of Shame displays — which now will include the Minnesota 8 — make an impressive visual argument.
“It’s an eye-opener for the public to see that this goes on,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Tietz, a deer hunter, gets almost giddy talking about the antlers.
“It looks more like an elk rack than a deer rack,’’ he said. “You can put a very quality 8- or 12-point rack between this one, and it’s just dwarfed.
Doug Smith • email@example.com