Deer. (DNR file photo)

A Carroll County man who was recently acquitted of several poaching charges says he has a warning for deer hunters and questions the tactics of the Iowa DNR.

Sixty-one-year-old Kenneth Snyder of Glidden was found not guilty on four counts of illegal possession of antlered whitetail deer.  Snyder says the experience led him to this advice for hunters.

“I would forewarn anybody who has a European mounted deer on the wall, or a shoulder mount, that if they are asked by our friends at the DNR how they got that deer, their five words need to be ‘this deer has been processed.’ If I would have said that the night they interrogated us, there would be no going to court,” Snyder says.

European mounting is a technique where the deer heads are buried in the ground so bugs and animals pick them clean and all that is left is the skull and antlers. It costs less than having the whole deer head-mounted.  Snyder says it’s important to note the deer were legally taken before the process.

“Hunters need to know, they need to know their dialogue, or they will spend their day in court. And it isn’t any fun,” according to Snyder.  Snyder has been on the Carroll County Conservation Board for about 25 years and has done volunteer work with the DNR for many years.  He says it didn’t make sense when conservation officers came to his house at 1:30 in the morning to question him.

“I’m the guy out there teaching, why would I? Why would I do something illegal? It would be absolutely insane,” he says. Snyder says they introduced a video of the European mount process, and body cam video from a DNR officer who recognized the technique at Snyder’s home.  He says there’s only one reason he can think of that officers pursued this case.

“They have a lot of time on their hands. When you can bring five game wardens to a case — one from Polk County, one from Pottawattamie County, and three others — and justify that for a 175-dollar misdemeanor, somebody’s got to explain to me how the DNR runs their ship. And I mean that, I mean, the enforcement side is, I don’t quite understand it,” Snyder says.

The judge found Snyder not guilty right after hearing the testimony — saying he did nothing wrong. Snyder says the DNR hasn’t explained or apologized. “No, they don’t apologize for anything. They sent me a note and said I could have the four European mounted deer if I wanted to drive to Taylor County and get them — although they’d pick them up in Carroll County. But I’m not falling into that trap. I have no idea what they’re up to. And I don’t want anything to do with them. They can have them. They’re just little deer heads,” Snyder says.

He says the DNR has lost a friend. Snyders’ attorney, William Kutmus, says the DNR made a “totally incompetent” decision to prosecute the case, and that was evident by the quick verdict in Snyder’s favor.

A spokesman for the Iowa DNR told Radio Iowa the decision to move ahead with the case was made by the prosecutor. Taylor County Attorney Clinton Spurrier prosecuted the case due to a potential conflict of interest with the Carroll County Attorney.  Spurrier told Radio Iowa it was a joint decision with the DNR to move forward.

He says the judge relied heavily on the information that was presented at the trial — and some of that information was not available at the time the decision to prosecute was made. Spurrier says it was a lengthy investigation and further interviews may or may not have impacted the decision to prosecute the case. He says hindsight is always  “20-20” following a decision.  Snyder’s son Joshua is also facing charges from the DNR, and is awaiting a trial.

Here’s a previous story on the case: