ARTICLE

Illegal hunting in Van Buren County found on internet sites

Three hunters have some explaining to do to the Iowa DNR after they posted what officers believe to be illegal hunting activity in Van Buren County on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

Conservation officers, who spotted the photos and videos on social networks, executed a search warrant in Van Buren County this summer against three individuals involved in the operation. The search turned up marijuana, among other things, according to the DNR.

The property, owned by Christopher and Linda Enyeart, is located at 16255 Acorn Avenue, south and west of Douds. Christopher and Linda Enyeart also maintain an address in Ames, according to the application for the search warrant.

Individuals involved in allegedly illegal hunting, according to the application search warrant include Christopher Allen Enyeart, 48, Emmitt Brodbeck Enyeart, 22, and Garry Wright, 55.

According to the application for the search warrant, officers viewed video and photos posted on social media webpages on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram of a group called Extreme Element Outdoors. The social media and the Extreme Element Outdoors web pages are allegedly maintained by Emmitt Enyeart. Through these social media websites, Emmitt Enyeart chronicles and shares deer and turkey hunting videos, photographs and blogs of himself and pro staff members of Extreme Element Outdoors, according to officers. Emmitt Enyeart, Chris Enyeart and Garry Wright are identified as “prostaff” members of Extreme Element Outdoors.

Extreme Element Outdoors lists the following address on its website: 4307 Timber Ridge Drive, Ames, Iowa 50014.

Officers used identifying locations in the photos and videos and compared the dates of the hunt to licenses those individuals had at that time and also noticed violations of Iowa law in the photos that had been posted.

Based on officer observations, video evidence, photo evidence, social media postings and “the totality of the circumstances” DNR officers told the judge they had probable cause to believe the following alleged to have occurred:

Garry Wright illegally killed a turkey in Van Buren County on or around April 20, 2018;

Garry Wright illegally utilized a spring turkey bow tag issued to Chris Enyeart to tag the illegally killed turkey;

Chris Enyeart and Garry Wright utilized a green Polaris Ranger to transport the illegally killed turkey;

Garry Wright illegally killed a trophy class white-tailed;

Garry Wright illegally utilized a landowner/tenant deer tag issued to Chris Enyeart to tag the illegally killed deer;

Chris Enyeart utilized a white bobcat tractor and loader to transport the illegally killed deer;

Emmitt Enyeart illegally killed a turkey in Van Buren County around May 16, 2018;

Emmitt Enyeart illegally transported a turkey killed by Emily Drury in Marion County on or around April 24, 2018;

Chris Enyeart illegally transported a buck killed in Van Buren County around December 2, 2017, using a green Polaris Ranger;

Chris Enyeart illegally shot a turkey in Jackson County on May 14, 2016;

Emmitt and Chris Enyeart are in possession of illegally possessed, transported or killed deer and turkeys, along with taxidermy mounts and digital recording devices, flash drives and memory sticks, containing original content evidence of illegal possession, transportation, hunting or taking deer and turkeys or co-conspirators involved with such activities.

The investigation began after officers noticed hunting videos published by Extreme Element Outdoors.

• On May 20, 2018, a video showed Garry Wright hunting turkeys from a ground blind. The video shows him shooting a turkey. Wright told viewers that he was hunting in Pennysvania, where he has his address, but in the video a distinct two-story hunting blind was visible in the background. Checking Google maps and photos from the Van Buren County assessor’s office, it was determined that the structure was consistent with the size and shape on Enyeart’s property in Van Buren County. Further checking revealed that there were other landmarks in the video that were consistent with the Enyeart property.

On May 24, officers executed a search warrant on the Van Buren property and located a tower blind matching the one visible on the YouTube video. Other landmarks included a double red gate visible in the video, Facebook and Instagram posts. An Instagram post showed Garry Wright posing with a turkey at the double red gate, with a Polaris Ranger in front.

Wright did not have any licenses to hunt the 2018 Iowa spring turkey season. His address is in Waterfall, PA.

• On May 16, Emmitt Enyeart posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram holding a bow and dead wild turkey shot with an arrow, with the first line of the photo description stating “Tagged out today.”

While he had a spring turkey bow purchased on April 20, Iowa law requires a person to have a valid hunting license, habitat fee, spring turkey license and tag. Emmitt Enyeart allegedly did not have a valid hunting license or habitat fee.

The May 24 search warrant states that the officers observed the following images on trail cameras located on the property of Chris Enyeart in Van Buren County:

April 7, 2018: Chris Enyeart hunting turkeys with a juvenile. Iowa law requires if a person is assisting other hunters, including youth hunters, that person must be properly licensed to hunt turkeys;

April 20, 2018: Garry Wright hunting turkeys with Chris Enyeart; Wright was not properly licensed to hunt turkeys; officers allege that Wright was standing next to Enyeart holding a turkey they say Wright illegally killed.

April 21 and 22, 2018: Wright, Emmitt Enyeart and Emily Drury hunting turkeys together. Wright and Emmitt Enyeart were not properly licensed to hunt turkeys;

April 28, 2018: Emmitt Enyeart and Chris Enyeart were hunting turkeys. Emmit was not properly licensed.

May 16, 2018: Emmitt Enyeart and Emily Drury were hunting turkeys. Emmitt Enyeart was not properly licensed to hunt turkeys.

On November 8, 2017, Emmitt Enyeart posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram pages with a buck he called “Daddy Droptine.” The description stated “How dumb and dumber managed to harvest one of the oldest bucks we have on camera.” The officer states that investigation showed that Garry Wright and Chris Enyeart were posing with the “Daddy Droptine.”

In the picture, the bow was laying on the deer and was designed for a right-hand shooter and it displayed the same size, shape and accessories as the bow used by Garry Wright to illegally shoot a turkey. The DNR officer stated to the judge that he (the officer) was an experienced archer having shot for approximately 20 years. He stated it was not common and was “almost impossible” for a person to use another person’s bow and shoot it with any type of accuracy or consistency. He believes that the bow is owned and used by Garry Wright. Based on Extreme Element Outdoors Facebook and Instagram photos, the officers determined that Chris Enyeart is a left handed shooter. Even a comment stated “Chris is a lefty,” according to the application. The photo showed Garry Wright gazing at and holding the antlers of the buck. Officers state that “such a pose is common for the individual who shot the deer.” A video posted on January 10, 2018, showed Chris Enyeart wearing clothes not consistent with the type of clothing worn by someone in a hunting situation. Due to the photo and video officers believed the deer was shot on or around November 4, 2017 by Garry Wright, who allegedly was not licensed to hunt any animal in 2017. Chris Enyeart obtained a landowner tenant deer license and tag in West Burlington on November 4, 2017, and registered the harvest in Van Buren County on November 5, 2017.

On April 30, 2018, Extreme Element Outdoors posted a video to their YouTube channel entitled “Turkey Hunting 2018 Big Bird Down.” The video featured Emily Drury and Emmitt Enyeart hunting turkeys in “Central Iowa.” After the harvest Emmitt Enyeart places the turkey in his vehicle. A photo was published to their Instagram page of Emily Drury posing with the turkey in the bed of a pickup. The turkey did not display a transportation tag and was not tagged in accordance with Iowa law.

On July 9, 2018, Extreme Element Outdoors published a video showing a hunt of a deer they called “Big Boy.” The video states that the hunt was on Emmitt Enyeart’s father’s farm in Van Buren County. The video showed the deer being transported in a green Polaris Ranger and was not tagged in accordance with Iowa law before being moved or transported.

On May 17, 2016, Extreme Element Outdoors published a video showing three toms taken down in 20 minutes. It also showed many taxidermy mounts and parts of deer and wild turkeys.

Officers conduced surveillance at a residence in Ames and observed vehicles which were allegedly used to transport deer, turkeys and hunting equipment.

The Van Buren County search was done on property located at 16255 Acorn Avenue, and reportedly has approximately 119.53 acres.

On July 21, officers seized the following at the Douds property: blind, cameras (equipment, cards and accessories), marijuana in ziploc bag, iPhones and accessories, game cameras, whitetail deer skull and antlers (two 9-pointers, two 8-pointers and two 7-pointers). Iowa Courts online also list a search warrant executed against the Enyearts in Story County.

No charges have been filed in Van Buren County, according to court records.