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Muley Freak’s Erik Van Woerkom Charged With Felony Possession of Trophy Mule Deer 

A member of the Muley Freak crew has been charged with one misdemeanor trespassing charge and one felony possession of a trophy mule deer charge stemming from a deer hunt in Oneida County, Idaho.
eric van woerkom with a compound bowErik Van Woerkom faces escalated charges in Idaho District Court; (photo/Muley Freak)
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Erik Van Woerkom, an online hunting personality of the Muley Freak crew, has been charged with felony unlawful possession of a trophy mule deer and misdemeanor trespass, according to Idaho court documents obtained by GearJunkie.

On Oct. 12, 2022, the 36-year-old hunter received citations for trespassing to hunt a mule deer buck on private ground, as well as another charge of possession of that animal.

Both charges had initially been marked as misdemeanors, but Van Woerkom’s situation was about to change. The citations issued by Idaho Fish and Game officials included a note that said, “To wit: trophy mule deer buck.”

It turns out the mule deer measured 11 inches over the 150-inch Idaho trophy limit for mule deer bucks. That led prosecutors to change the misdemeanor possession charge to a felony, as Idaho has stiffer penalties for possession of a trophy animal.

Citations Obtained from Oneida County Court

In November, Idaho prosecutors presented an amended case: the misdemeanor trespassing charge as well as the escalated felony charge for unlawful possession of a trophy mule deer.

The hunting celebrity’s “crime against the people of the State of Idaho” could land him a maximum penalty of five years in jail and/or $50,000 in fines. Van Woerkom could also face a $2,000 fine for the illegally possessed animal and lose his Idaho hunting privileges for life.

Celebrity Hunters Running Afoul of the Law

Van Woerkom isn’t the first celebrity hunter in recent years to be charged with hunting-related offenses. Josh and Sarah Bowmar and their company Bowmar Bowhunting, LLC, pled guilty in October 2022 to conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, a law concerning unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly possessing, transporting, or selling wildlife.

The Bowmars’ plea deal involved dropping the other charges hanging over them, including illegally transporting game across state lines, illegally baiting wildlife, and hunting wild turkeys without a permit.

Since pleading guilty, the Bowmars successfully petitioned the court to modify the terms of their probation. Where once they were unable to possess bows, the couple may now manufacture and possess bows and accessories for business purposes only. As of this writing, the Bowmars are still prohibited from owning and accessing firearms, though they may make additional requests to the court to modify that ruling.

As for Van Woerkom, the state of Idaho’s case against him will resume in Oneida County’s Sixth District Court on March 17, 2023.

bowmar hunting couple

Bowmars Petition for More Lenient Probation, Partially Win in Court

Josh and Sarah Bowmar petitioned the court to drop the conditions of their probation in regard to their ability to possess weapons and hunt. Read more…

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