An Indiana Conservation Officer says he was watching when a hunter at Goose Pond shot a wood duck out of season and another hunter waded out into the marsh, retrieved the duck, then stomped it down into muck to hide the evidence.
William Geis, 47, and Chad Hilbert, 32, both from Brookville, Ind., and another hunter were duck hunting together at Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area early on Saturday, September 8, at the same time Indiana Conservation Officer Matt Landis was patrolling Goose Pond.
It was the opening day of the season for hunting teal ducks and that was the only species of duck that was legal to hunt on that day.
Around 7:43 a.m., at Goose Pond Unit 5 North, Landis was watching the three hunters from a distance when he saw a duck, without the characteristics of a teal duck, fly toward the hunters.
In a probable cause affidavit prepared by Landis, he says he watched as one of the hunters shot the duck which landed in the marsh.
Landis said he watched one of the hunters then walk out into the marsh, retrieve the duck then start walking back but while he was still in the marsh, he dropped the duck, stomped it into the muck under the surface of the water, then returned to the blind empty handed.
Indiana Conservation Officer Dustin Cary assisted Landis in making contact with the hunters.
When one of the hunters walked back to the hunters’ truck, Landis confronted him and explained he had witnessed the violation. The hunter allegedly said he didn’t shoot the wood duck and that one of the other men had shot it.
Then as ICO Cary approached the other two hunters in the blind, two wood ducks flew over and he asked the men if they were going to shoot. Geis allegedly said no because they were wood ducks.
Initially the allegation was denied but Landis reported Geis later did admit he had shot a wood duck believing it was a teal, and Hilbert admitted he retrieved the duck, identified it as a wood duck, then concealed it.
Geis is accused of the illegal taking of a wood duck. Hilbert is accused of the illegal possession of a wood duck.
Landis said it was impossible for officers to locate the duck because the area where it was concealed was near the middle of the marsh where there was 1-2 feet of water above a foot of mud.
Both hunters are scheduled to appear in Greene Superior Court on November 5 when they will be charged with the unlawful hunting of migratory birds, a Class C misdemeanor.