For the second time in the last two weeks, Illinois conservation wardens have announced a huge bust involving a high-profile whitetail kill. This Monday, Prairie State wardens announced the arrest of five hunters charged with illegally taking deer in Cook and Sangamon counties last fall.
Among the deer seized was a 213-5/8″ nontypical that was featured in an episode of “Whitetail Properties TV” last summer and touted as a state record for a nontypical shot with traditional archery tackle.
Louis Bergsma from Illinois, Jonathan Douglas and Daniel Bergsma from Michigan were all arrested, along with fellow Wolverine State hunter Tom Hedke. The group racked up 41 violations of the wildlife code, including illegal trespass, hunting on an invalid permit, unlawful possession, hunting without a valid license and falsifying harvest records. The five-month long investigation was a cooperative effort between wardens from Illinois, Michigan and Indiana, as well as officers from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The investigation involved the illegal harvest of 31 whitetails, including the giant nontypical, a trophy-class animal that alone carries a fine of $25,000. The man charged with poaching that buck, “Cal” Bergsma, was listed as a “land specialist” for Whitetail Properties at the time of the incident, but is no longer mentioned on the site. In addition, the “Bergsma Brothers Archery” site seems to have been pulled from the Web.