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Deer poachers caught on camera

Fort Dodge, Iowa - A nine month investigation into deer and turkey poaching in Webster County, Iowa, was closed on Oct. 7, when Kyle Alstott, 23, of Fort Dodge, the last of the 10 individuals facing charges from Iowa and Nebraska, pleaded guilty. 

In November 2015, Iowa State Conservation Officer Matt Bruner came across a website run by Alstott with photos and videos of deer, deer hunts, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Alstott and Roman Thompson, 22, from Omaha, Neb., are co-owners of ATM Outdoors, an outdoors /hunting filming company based in Fort Dodge. They produce photos, videos and deer stories for their website which is where Officer Bruner began his investigation.

Bruner recognized Kyle Alstott and Michael Alstott, 44, of Fort Dodge, from photos on the website as individuals that he charged for hunting over bait in 2011. He began comparing the deer and stories on the website to licenses the different individuals featured had purchased in various states.

The information didn’t line up.

Officers served multiple search warrants in late November 2015 and collected phones, computer and video equipment, deer and turkey mounts, meat and equipment used to harvest the game animals.

What Bruner found was, evidence of people shooting deer without the correct licenses, hunting deer over bait, making multiple false claims by nonresident for hunting license/tag, unlawful possession of illegal whitetail deer, hunting with the aid of artificial light, and more.

The 10 individuals were charged in December 2015 and plea deals began in January.

·         Kyle Alstott pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of illegally killed whitetail buck deer, hunting deer with aid of bait, hunting with the aid of artificial light, unlawful use of two-way radio transmitter while hunting, making false claim for hunting license/tag by non-resident, failure to tag harvested deer, failure to report harvested deer, hunting deer without a valid deer tag, taking whitetail buck without a valid tag, unlawful possession of illegally killed whitetail buck deer in 2014 season and unlawful possession of illegally killed wild turkey in 2014 season.  Kyle Alstott was fined $1,902 and assessed $4,000 in liquidated damages and restitution.

·         Roman Thompson pleaded guilty to hunting without a nonresident hunting license and habitat fee, hunting without a nonresident antlered deer tag, unlawful use of another’s deer tag, unlawful use of two-way radio transmitter while hunting, and unlawful possession of illegally killed whitetail buck deer in 2014 season.  Thompson was fined $1,760 and assessed $2,000 in liquidated damages plus 80 hours of community service.

·         Michael Alstott pleaded guilty to making a false report (fraud-fifth degree), hunting deer without a valid license or tag, unlawful use of two-way radio transmitter while hunting, unlawful tagging of illegally killed buck deer, unlawful transportation of deer without tag, taking doe deer without valid license or tag, and unlawful use of out of county deer tag. Michael Alstott was fined $1,557.

·         Randy Vaught, 53, Algona, pleaded guilty to hunting with aid of artificial light, shooting/discharging rifle over highway, and failure to report harvested deer. Vaught was fined $369 and assessed $2,000 in liquidated damages plus 80 hours of community service.

·         Tanner Dawson, 20, of Fort Dodge, pleaded guilty to unlawful taking and possession of whitetail doe deer and failure to report harvested deer. Dawson was fined $282 and assessed $1,500 in liquidated damages.

·         Mariah Thompson, 22, Omaha, Neb., pleaded guilty to hunting deer without a valid non-resident license or tag. Mariah Thompson was fined $667.

·         Matthew Alstott, 44, of Fort Dodge, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a non-resident taking deer unlawfully and unlawful use of deer tag by another. Matthew Alstott was fined $390.

·         Travis Miller, 45, of Monroe, pleaded guilty to hunting with the aid of artificial light and unlawful transportation of illegally taken deer. Miller was fined $390.

·         Brendon Nicholas, 31, of Fort Dodge, pleaded guilty to unlawful tagging of whitetail buck deer and failure to report harvested deer. Nicholas was fined $282.

·         Mike Kenyon, 36, of Clare, pleaded guilty to failure to report harvested deer. Kenyon was fined $87.

Kyle Alstott, Roman Thompson, Michael Alstott, Randy Vaught and Tanner Dawson all face license suspension in Iowa and 44 other states that are part of the wildlife violator compact.  Roman and Mariah Thompson are also facing charges in Nebraska.

The Iowa DNR worked in conjunction with the Webster County Attorney’s Office, Boone County Attorney’s Office, Nebraska Game and Parks, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Missouri Department of Conservation, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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