Fishing Conservation photo

_by Dave Hurteau
Earlier this month, I posted a link to a story by the Illinois Outdoor News reporting that Andrae D’Acquisto, former owner of Lone Wolf Treestands and current owner of Lone Wolf Productions, which produces Whitetail Addiction TV, had pled guilty to hunting without a valid Illinois hunting license and habitat stamp, and that in the plea agreement, baiting charges were dropped. You may remember that I promised you more information. I wanted to hear from D’Acquisto, as well as from a warden who was on the scene. On Thursday of last week, I received a statement on D’Acquisto’s behalf from Lone Wolf Productions, and on Saturday morning I spoke with Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police Officer Rich Logsdon, who worked the case.

First, the Lone Wolf Productions statement:
Here are some facts in regards to the recent statement made on Illinois Outdoor News website. In 2009 Andrae D’Acquisto applied for and received Illinois deer non-resident combo archery permits for him and his son at the sum of $820.00. At that time he also requested hunting licenses for $57.75 and habitat stamps for $5.50. Andrae D’Acquisto received his tags in the mail which he signed immediately and placed in his hunting pack, unaware that the hunting license portion and habitat stamp were never processed by the license sales vendor. Later he had come to find out these items cannot be purchased in the same transaction. As a result they were issued tickets for that mistake. As for any other charges, including baiting, they were all found invalid and dropped by a judge in Menard County. At no time was Andrae or Cody
D’Acquisto involved in putting out and hunting over, or near any baited sights. In reference to the charges back in 2005, after considering all of the facts, the charges of fraudulently obtaining Illinois resident hunting licenses, resident deer permits, and providing false information to obtain an Illinois driver’s license in Cass County were dropped by a judge. Andrae D’Acquisto then agreed to a petty charge of obstructing a peace officer. At that time the state of Illinois and the US Federal Government recognized Andrae D’Acquisto to be a legal resident of the state of Illinois._

Officer Logsdon confirms that D’Acquisto did have his archery tag but lacked a hunting licenses and habitat stamp. “He has hunted here in the past and should have known the requirement. Tags, licenses, and habitat stamps are frequently purchased in the same transaction, and while it’s possible that this violation was a simple mistake, that makes it no less illegal.”

As to the baiting charges, it is illegal in Illinois to put out any deer attractant–minerals or food substances–any time of year, as is hunting with the aid of same. Officer Logsdon says his team found five “holes” containing deer attractant on two properties D’Acquisto leases and hunts. “There were fresh minerals in one of them for sure,” he says. “When we approached Mr. D’Acquisto, he asked ‘Is it about the holes on the property?’ So he was clearly aware of them.”

The holes varied in size, says Logsdon. “One was about the size of a car hood and about 2 feet deep. Several had scouting cameras nearby and at least two had a stand or stands within bow range.” Logsdon concedes that D’Acquisto was never scene placing any substances himself nor found hunting within bow range of any of the holes. “He was hunting a property that had illegal substances, however, and we feel we had sufficient evidence to show that he was involved in putting them there,” he says.

“Mr. D’Acquisto claimed that a deceased land owner may have put salt in one of the holes and that they usually fill that one in but didn’t this year.” Logsdon says D’Acquisto asked if he could make the holes legal by pouring kerosene into them? “We told him that to be legal, they needed to be totally inaccessible to deer. When he asked how far away from the holes he need to be, I informed him that there is no set distance, to which he responded, ‘I don’t need to hunt over bait to kill a deer anyway.'”

Finally, Logsdon says it is important to note that the baiting charges–as well as the 2005 felony charges–were not dismissed by a judge or jury based on their merits, but as a condition of a plea agreement.