HANCOCK COUNTY — A unlicensed hunter is in jail on poaching charges after state Department of Natural Resources officers found hundreds of bones, antlers and feathers — some from federally protected animals — in his home, according to court documents.
Andrew Hastings, 54, of Greenfield, faces two felony and five misdemeanor charges after officers discovered he’d built up a collection of more than 100 sets of deer antlers, 170 feathers from federally protected birds and the skulls of about 20 different creatures.
During a search of Hasting’s property, DNR officers found antlers, furs and animal skulls hanging all around his home. In addition, more than 70 grams of marijuana was found in a shed found during the search, court records state.
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Hastings has been illegally shooting deer, cutting the horns from their heads with a hacksaw and leaving the bodies to rot, officers said. Most of the feathers Hasting had gathered belonged to hawks, falcons and vultures protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, court records state.
Hastings now faces the following charges in Hancock County Superior Court 1: a Level 6 felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance; a Level 6 felony charge of possession of marijuana; a Class B misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana; two Class B misdemeanor charges of unlawful taking of a deer; a Class C misdemeanor of hunting without a license; and a Class C misdemeanor of unlawful hunting of migratory birds.
He is being held in the Hancock County Jail on $2,000 cash bond, jail records state.
For years, DNR officers have received complaints about illegal hunting activity in the area around Hastings’ home in southern Hancock County, but the information had been too vague to conduct a formal investigation until recently, said Scott Johnson, local conservation officer for the DNR.
In October, a farmer reported finding two dead deer in his harvested bean field in the 2400 block of East County Road 500S. The animals had been shot and their antlers removed, court records state. DNR officers saw Hastings walking in the area, carrying a rifle, and they followed him to his home for questioning, court records state.
At first, Hastings denied having been out hunting, and he denied having been in the area with a gun, court records state. He told Johnson he had been in the woods smoking marijuana and was carrying a walking stick at the time. Eventually, he admitted to shooting the two animals and stashing the gun in the woods, court records state.
DNR records show Hasting hasn’t had a valid hunting license since 2008.
Hastings allowed Johnson and another conservation officer to search his home. He told the officers the hundreds of antlers hanging around the house all came from roadkill deer or online purchases, court records state.
Officers confiscated the feathers, two sets of antlers and the skulls of an owl and two turkey vultures as evidence, court records state.
The two Level 6 felony charges Hastings faces each carry a penalty range of six months to two years; Class B misdemeanors carry penalties of up to 180 days; and Class C misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to 60 days.