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Cannon Falls man pleads guilty in poaching case of record

RED WING, Minn. -- A Cannon Falls, Minn., man accused of poaching a world-class buck was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail and had his hunting privileges suspended for five years.

Troy Alan Reinke pleaded guilty to taking and possessing big game out of season, a gross misdemeanor, and two other poaching-related charges. As part of a plea agreement, eight other poaching-related charges were dropped.

Reinke also must forfeit his hunting bow and permanently turn the trophy-class antler rack over to the Department of Natural Resources' enforcement division. Other terms of the agreement call for Reinke to pay $1,500 in restitution to the state and a $500 fine, First District Court Judge Thomas Bibus ruled.

Reinke's attorney, Timothy Dillon, said his client maintains he found the trophy-class buck and did not shoot it himself.

"Troy made a big mistake when he thought he could make some money off this rack," Dillon said.

The case drew outrage among deer hunters last year when Reinke was first accused of shooting a world-class buck out of season. As the charges escalated, prosecutors alleged he shot the buck with a firearm during bow season.

"He knows he's a demon in the hunting community," Dillon said. "He knows he's not going to be accepted in the hunting community ever again."

Goodhue County prosecutors said Reinke was hunting in the White Rock area Oct. 31 when he killed an eight-point buck that DNR officials say was a record-breaker.

The massive buck's rack out-sizes any other eight-pointer, according to Boone and Crockett, an organization that chronicles trophy rack kills. The deer accumulated a gross score of 190 5/8 and green score of 185, DNR officials said.

Authorities said Reinke's deer tag should have gone to one of the first two deer he reportedly shot in early October. He allegedly waited to fill his tag until killing the trophy buck. Consequently, all three were taken illegally, according to the charges.

Dillon said state officials never tested the hunting jacket Reinke claimed he wears on hunting excursions. The jacket was supposed prove that the 32-year-old had not shot a firearm.

"They understood that it wasn't going to test in their favor," Dillon said.

But since he was "financially depressed" at the time, Reinke saw the dead deer's rack as an opportunity, his attorney said.

"He got greedy and thought, 'This rack could be worth some money,'" Dillon said.

DNR Conservation Officer Tyler Quandt denied rumors claiming a sporting goods outfitter had sought to buy the trophy rack from the state for $200,000.

Still, inquiries from "numerous" taxidermists have indicated the rack is worth "quite a bit of money," Quandt said.

Reinke will receive credit for 120 days served. The sentence runs alongside another conviction he received Thursday for a probation violation.

He begins his jail term April 2.

Mike Longaecker is a reporter at The Red Wing (Minn.) Republican Eagle, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.