A celebrity hunter who hails from Tennessee is in trouble with the law today.
William "Spook" Spann, TV host of "Spook Nation" on the Pursuit Channel, has been indicted in Kansas City for violation of the Lacey Act.
The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to transport illegally taken wildlife across state lines. Although the original wrongdoing might have been a violation of state law, moving the ill-gotten gains across state lines makes it a far more serious, and potentially costly, federal violation.
In count one, the indictment alleges that in November 2007 he transported a white-tailed deer's antlers from Stafford County, Kan., to Tennessee, knowing the deer had been taken in violation of state hunting laws. In count two, the indictment alleges he falsely reported to the owner of the land, identified only as L.Z., that the deer was not taken on L.Z.’s property.
There has been no comment as to why it has taken authorities nearly five years to bring charges.
Increasing the Internet buzz about the charges is the fact that the alleged ill-gotten gain was a white-tailed buck that measured more then 230 inches and is supposedly the largest buck ever taken on video.
At the time, Spann owned land in Kansas, and nonresident hunters can get a permit to hunt their own land. But that particular permit restricts hunters to only their land. It requires a different permit to hunt off of your own property. That is apparently the crux of the case against Spann.
The video of the kill has been widely played and distributed, so sources say there is ample evidence to back up the claims of exactly where the deer was taken. A search warrant was served on Spann's Tennessee home in January 2011, and the antlers of the massive buck were seized as evidence.
If convicted, Spann faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines on each of the two counts, although a maximum penalty in such cases is doubtful, even if he is found guilty.
Regardless, the charges alone cast a shadow on a man who hunts for a living and whose TV show makes its way into living rooms across North America. Spann also serves basically as a real estate broker specializing in selling property to deer hunters billed as Spook Nation Farms.
Internet forums across the country are filled with talk of the case. On the TNDeer.com forum, BSK writes, "Just goes to show what money and ego will do to people, and how 'trophy mania' is ruining hunting."
However, morgancountry, writes, "Before completely bashing the guy, let's see what plays out. Could've been an honest mistake ..."
Nooga.com Outdoors tried contacting Spann for comment. There is no answer on the phone number listed on his website, and the recording says his voicemail memory is full. Nor has he responded to an email requesting comment.
On his Facebook page, Spann responded to viewers by writing, "Lots of rumors snowballing I think. I keep hearing 'bout it. Can't really control slander anyway. God knows my heart, and that's all that matters! Meanwhile gotta keep tryin' to earn an honest living!! But I will try to find out and post something, so folks won't worry. Good luck this season. Stay after 'em!! God bless."
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Spann’s first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 1 in federal court in Wichita, Kan.
Two days after publication, Spann's spokesman emailed a response. Click here to read it.
Updated @ 11:46 a.m. on 09/11/12 to add Spann's court date.
Updated @ 10:37 a.m. on 09/14/12 to add a link to Spann's response.