Hunter accused of poaching trophy buck gets jail time in plea deal

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 19, 2010 - 8:15 AM

The Cannon Falls man charged with poaching a world-record white-tailed buck on Halloween in Goodhue County also loses his hunting privileges for five years.

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Minnesota conservation officer Major Rod Smith held up antlers of a poached buck that measured over 28 inches wide, Nov. 12, 2009.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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RED WING, MINN. — A Cannon Falls man accused of poaching a world-record 8-point white-tailed buck on Halloween in Goodhue County pleaded guilty Thursday to three charges and will go to jail. 

Troy Alan Reinke, 32, admitted in District Court to a gross misdemeanor for illegally possessing the trophy buck, and to misdemeanors for failing to register a doe he shot earlier in October with his bow, and also for killing a smaller buck with his bow in excess of his limit.

About a dozen other charges were dismissed.

The poaching admissions put Reinke in violation of his parole from an earlier domestic assault conviction. Crediting him for 120 days served in that case, Judge Thomas Bibus sentenced Reinke to 245 days in jail -- a year in all.

Reinke also loses his big- and small-game hunting privileges for five years, and must pay $1,500 in restitution and $500 in court costs. The rack of the trophy animal will go to the DNR enforcement division, and Reinke must forfeit his bow.

Reinke "realizes he's a demon in the hunting community," said his attorney, public defender Tim Dillon of Cannon Falls.

Asked whether he was happy with the deal his office cut with Reinke, Assistant County Attorney Dave Grove said, "Quite.''

The case has received widespread attention because of the buck's size. A preliminary scoring measured its antlers at about 190 gross and 185 net, unheard of in North America for an 8-pointer.

Had the animal been killed legally, it would have been the largest 8-pointer ever registered by Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young, which records trophy animals.

As he left court, Reinke didn't answer a reporter's question about how the trophy buck was killed. In court, Bibus, Grove and Dillon acknowledged they "weren't going to get into what actually happened.''

Reinke had said he found the 8-point buck already dead, according to Department of Natural Resources conservation officers. Originally, Reinke said he shot the animal with a bow. He changed his story after investigators determined the deer was killed by a gun.

Dillon said Reinke maintains he didn't kill the big buck, adding that Reinke, in accordance with his probation from the domestic assault conviction, hasn't possessed a gun in years. The firearms deer season was closed when the trophy buck was killed.

"He pleaded guilty because he possessed the animal,'' Dillon said. "He maintains he found it and took it as his own, and, being financially suppressed, he thought it was worth something.

"He got greedy and thought he could make some money on the deal, and told some stories that weren't true.''

In a January court appearance, Dillon had asked the state to test Reinke's hunting jacket for gunpowder residue, maintaining none would be found. Grove at the time dismissed the idea, and the testing never occurred, Dillon said Thursday.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has proposed that fines and restitution for trophy-class animals in particular be raised substantially in Minnesota to reflect the market value of the animals.

Dillon, for example, said after court he heard that Cabela's offered the DNR $200,000 for the head and rack of the Goodhue County buck.

The buck reportedly field-dressed at 265 pounds.

At the time the big buck was killed, or found, Reinke was licensed to kill only one deer, by archery. Because he hadn't tagged the doe or smaller buck he shot earlier, the DNR contended all three were poached.

Reinke has earlier convictions for marijuana possession, theft and assault.

"I think he's learned his lesson,'' Dillon said. "It's unlikely you'll see him around [the courthouse] again,'' he said.

Dennis Anderson • 612-673-4424

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