Hunting Accident File > Violations

PA: Charged for killing trophy-class deer with no license

Charged for killing trophy-class deer with no license


Pennsylvania Game Commission officials today announced multiple wildlife charges have been filed against a Harrisburg man for violations on Dec. 9.

Citations were filed by Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer (WCO) Michael Doherty before District Justice William Wenner, Lower Paxton Township. Charged was Michael J. Sponsler, Harrisburg, for making false and fraudulent statements, hunting without a license, hunting in a safety zone, hunting in a cemetery and killing a trophy-class 10-point buck. Total fines could reach $7,000 and 30 days in jail.

WCO Doherty received a call from a witness, who is also a hunter, who reported hearing gunshots in a residential neighborhood just before sunset. With help from the witness, Doherty located an empty rifle shell casing a few yards from the Paxton Church, Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County, and evidence that a deer had been dragged down the front steps of the church and through the church cemetery to Sponsler’s mother’s home.

Doherty applied for a search warrant of the home and, along with the assistance of WCO John Veylupek, recovered a dead 10-point buck and a .308 rifle. “This was a trophy-class deer,” said Doherty. “It weighed about 200 pounds and had an estimated Boone & Crockett score of 140 points.” Doherty also learned that Sponsler did not have a valid hunting license when he killed the deer.

Doherty added that another large buck – an eight-pointer – was killed in a safety zone and left about a mile from this incident, at almost the exact same time. “However, no one called the PGC to report this, so the unknown violators escaped,” he said. “Sponsler was apprehended because someone called the Pennsylvania Game Commission promptly.”.

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