Illegal deer antlers

111 sets of deer antlers were seized from the property of Sean Chamberlin and John Chamberlin, of rural Atlantic, Iowa.

ATLANTIC, Iowa — The hunting licenses of a father and son have been suspended for one year after the remains of more than 100 deer and other animals were found in their possession.

John Chamberlin Jr., 48, and his son, Sean, 24, each had faced 111 counts of illegally taking game after investigators found piles of deer antlers on the property where they live northeast of Atlantic last December.

In May, each pleaded guilty to one count in exchange for the other 110 counts being dropped. The Chamberlins were sentenced last week.

District Court Judge Karen Mallander ordered both men to pay a $20 fine, plus court costs on all 111 counts, or $507 in court costs per person.

The punishment could have been more severe. In addition to a fine of $195 per animal, damages could have been as much as $2,500 per animal.

Cass County Attorney David Wiederstein had asked for five years of suspended hunting privileges and damages, according to his office.

In an interview this week, John and Sean Chamberlin said they don’t believe their licenses should have been suspended, but also acknowledged they could have faced more severe punishment.

Said Callie Chamberlin, Sean Chamberlin’s wife: “It was a good outcome for what Cass County was pushing for.”

Authorities began investigating the pair after a Dec. 29 report of someone dumping litter on the side of a rural road northeast of Atlantic, near their home. Responding deputies found hides from four deer, a raccoon and a badger carcass.

The next day, law enforcement officers were allowed onto the Chamberlin property. There, they discovered the antlers, the body of an untagged deer, a badger and a raccoon — all of which were suspected of being taken illegally. The pair was charged in January.

John and Sean Chamberlin denied poaching. Both men said they have been hunting in Iowa for more than a decade — John Chamberlin since about 1990 — and said they collect deer antlers.

“A lot of the antlers weren’t even ours,” said John Chamberlin. Many had been given to them by hunting friends, he said.

The Chamberlins look forward to being able to deer hunt again.

“The thrill, it’s like racing a truck, but better,” Sean Chamberlin said. “On top of that. it’s some of the best meat you’ll ever have.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1310,,

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