Field & Stream Online Editors

Two men could face fines and prison time after a federal grand jury said they allowed unlicensed hunters to kill drugged deer on an Indiana hunting preserve, the Indianapolis Star reported.

An indictment released last Thursday states that Russell Bellar of Peru, Indiana and Hinds Tom Jones of Edwards, Mississippi permitted 51 illegal deer hunts in the past three years on 1,500 acres of property owned by Bellar and managed by Jones. The charges claim that many of the hunters were unlicensed, from out of state and used illegal weapons with the assistance of bait. Some clients paid Bellar and Jones as much as $20,000 to shoot deer that were often drugged and kept in small, enclosed areas where they were killed.

In all, the two men were charged with 38 felonies, each of which can result in a $250,000 fine, five years in prison or both. Lt. Col. Jeff Wells of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said the case is important both in terms of law and the treatment of wildlife. “This was not hunting. It’s just wrong,” Wells told the Star.

In February, state and federal authorities investigated Bellar’s property at which point he criticized the case as a political attack from the DNR. “I have no clue what they are looking for,” Bellar told the Star in February. “They are against what I do. They are against anyone that raises whitetail deer. They hate us with a passion.”