Attempting to win a contest is an honorable feat if the challenge is faced fairly and honestly. If not, the circumstances could prove costly. Ask Nick Peltzer.

Peltzer, 18, a Providence Township resident, entered a 10-point buck in an archery big buck contest. The Solanco senior allegedly harvested the whitetail during the 2005 early youth muzzleloader/archery season in Drumore Township. The Pennsylvania Game Commission, acting on some recent independent tips, challenged the young hunter. Those sources indicated the trophy buck wasn't harvested by bow and arrow as Peltzer had confirmed. Instead they claimed Peltzer entered the bush with a high-powered rifle (.30-.30) dispatched the animal and carted it away. The young hunter entered the trophy in the archery contest and afterward secured the services of a taxidermist in having the animal mounted for posterity.

With the aid of deputies Dwayne Sellers and Haines Henry, WCO Linda Swank investigated the incident. Swank said both the archery contest organizer and the taxidermist were cooperative during the investigation. Bullet fragments found in the hide suggested the animal did not succumb to broad head penetration as stated. As a result Peltzer was charged with unlawful taking of big game, unlawful methods and devices used in taking big game and unlawful acts concerning license purchase. The later charge was leveled at Peltzer after it was learned he purchased his junior license at a local agency after celebrating his 17th birthday. "I really made an honest mistake," said Peltzer during his hearing at District Justice, Stuart Mylin's courtroom. "I thought I could purchase a junior license until I was 18." While Justice Mylin was sympathetic to the young outdoorsman, he ruled that Peltzer had purchased a license since the age of 12, and therefore it should have been clear to Peltzer that the adult resident license must be purchased after reaching your 17th birthday.

Peltzer faces fines that could amount to $1,000 and will definitely result in the loss of hunting privileges for one to three years.

"No question it was a trophy buck," said Sellers. "It had a 23 1/2-inch spread." Unfortunately for Peltzer the trophy whitetail was taken illegally.

Peltzer, who appeared in the courtroom without legal or family support, appeared to be remorseful. But in the end his illegal action cost him. Not only in significant funds and his hunting privileges, but also one outstanding southern end buck.

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