My case and trial in 2007
My experience with deer started in 1968 when I first went deer hunting. I had never seen a deer in Iowa and did not know what one looked like except from pictures. I went deer hunting for a couple of years but never saw a deer. At one time in the 20th century it has been estimated that Iowa only had 350 deer statewide, and as late as the 1980s you could only shoot male deer, with horns when hunting.
In 1980 I bought 18 acres with the idea of setting up a choose and cut X-mas tree farm. I planted all my windbreaks around the place and never lost a tree to deer, usually only saw one or two a year. In 1985 I started planting X-mas trees and had no trouble with deer at first, but starting about 1990 I started noting many buck rubs and eating in the fall/winter destroying my X-mas trees.
I had the DNR depredation biologist at that time, named Jim Jansen come out and he stated I had to have $1000.00 of damage in one year before I could do anything about the damage under the deer depredation program (should have had this video taped). He valued my trees at .50 cents each as that is all I paid for them. No allowance was given for the many years/money of raising the tree, and I would have been "out of business" if I had followed their policy. I planted about 1000 trees a year so I would have to have 2000 trees destroyed before I could "qualify" for the depredation program, which was simply shooting female deer during deer hunting season. I have never know one single person who said the depredation program stopped the deer damage on their property I would have been out of business if I would have followed their program. I and others went deer hunting a couple of years but had no effect on the deer damage as most occurred at night.
As I do know something about the Iowa constitution on the right to protect property, I immediately started shooting the deer year around, to protect my property as state hunting rules have never worked to stop deer damage. I have shot ("euthanized" for PETA people) over 1000 deer to protect my property the last 25 years, and my trees have done fine with just a few each year being destroyed. I have not "hunted" any animals for over 20 years but have allowed other persons free of charge to go hunting, fishing and trapping on my property. When you figure all the fees/licenses, the state of Iowa has made over $10,000 off of my property in the last 25 years. How much has the Iowa DNR/state government made from the destruction of your property?
Being a tree farmer I saw the damage done year around to my trees but then the DNR started threatening me for shooting deer to protect my property. When you threaten a Marine you are going to have to back it up. I decided only one way to settle this was to get them into court to see if the Iowa Supreme court ruling #30221 was still valid. I started calling them when I shot a deer and even took pictures of dead deer, to the head of the DNR at that time Mr. Jeff Vonk.
I am not shy about protecting my property, and the DNR along with Cedar County assistant attorney, Jeff Renender finally decided to do something about the situation and charge me, as many other persons were also following my actions and protecting their property.
I called the Iowa DNR in June 2006 to report I shot a deer that was eating my trees. I even helped Mr. Shawn Meier of the DNR to load the deer in his truck as shown above. I heard nothing until Sep 2006 when Mr. Meier came out (below) and charged me with shooting the deer.
MY TRIAL IN 2007
Shooting a deer in Iowa is a simple misdemeanor. My trial was to use the "protection of property" and the "Justification" defense, this was granted by a district court judge. In other words you can shoot deer at all times to protect your property. I was the first person who was able to use this defense for over 50 years for deer damage. My trial started on March 19th, 2007 to a packed courtroom, with camera coverage from start to finish.
DNR Depredation biologist Greg Harris when on the stand was asked how he determines damage to trees from Deer, stated "We go by whatever the landowner says their trees are worth" a complete change from what he previously stated to me that I needed $1000. damage determined by him, to qualify. To this date there is still nothing written on how any deer damage to private property is valued. Click here to see how I now value my trees and plants damaged from deer.
The state of Iowa paid $4000 dollars to a "deer expert" from Missouri, a wildlife biologist, to testify that it was "very unlikely" that deer eat trees, but eat soybeans. The Iowa DNR will pay someone to lie in court for them. If deer do not eat trees, why not just bring in one of the DNRs 8 District foresters to say that and save the money. They knew better than that.
I was on the stand for a time to explain my operation, the damage the deer do to it. There are certain rules you must know and follow to use the constitutional right to protect property, I did not know all the details at that time, of what it takes to prove the necessity defense and after 3 days, was found guilty on March 22, 2007.
The week after my trial the Administrative rules, without any legislative impute, changed the deer shooting rules suddenly to include being able to shoot deer year around, to protect property. The Iowa DNR has never allowed shooting year around, under hunting rules. After about 2 weeks an appeal on several issues was planned, but if you ever have Ms Bobbi Alpers for your judge in a simple misdemeanor trial and she says after your trial that you have 20 days to appeal your verdict, that is not true. It is 10 days.
I was fined $1500 for "replacement of deer". I was not disappointed by the verdict as I proved what I wanted, that everyone has the right to kill deer at any time to protect their property, and the state of Iowa/DNR showed me in court what I had to prove to "protect property" under the Iowa constitution, and now I use it every day, and share it with you. I now prevent over $250,000.00 in deer damage each year to my property and millions for other property owners in Iowa, thanks to my case and the Iowa constitution.
I have a complete transcript/video of my trial so there will be no mistakes on what was said during it.
I and many other Iowans are ready, willing, and able to again go to court to protect yours and my right to protect our property, and we know what to do next time.
The door is always open, if any Iowa official, DNR or any person has a way to stop the deer damage on my property, wants to pay me for my damage, put up and maintain a fence, or has any other idea than the way I am doing it. Please submit a plan to me on how it will work as I am willing to look at any other measure that will stop the deer damage to my property that is cheaper, faster and more effective than what I do now.