Hunter appeals fine to high court

Risner faces $28,000 penalty for deer killed in 2010
Tom Jackson
Feb 23, 2014


Bellevue resident Arlie Risner still doesn’t think it’s fair the state wants to charge him about $28,000 in restitution in a deer-hunting case.

So he’s taking his fight to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Risner, 61, who runs a tree-trimming business and drives a school bus, has been battling in court for years over a 2010 incident in which he hunted a deer near Willard.

He pleaded no contest to a charge of hunting without permission, for allegedly taking the deer on railroad property. Risner has said he actually took the deer on a relative’s property, but the deer died near the railroad tracks.    He pleaded no contest to get rid of the case, and he paid a modest fine and costs, figuring it would take care of the matter. State officials had taken possession of the deer.

Instead, the Division of Wildlife stunned Risner by demanding about $27,850 in restitution, claiming the large rack of antlers on the buck Risner took made it unusually valuable.

Risner went to court in April 2013, and he appeared to have won when Huron County Common Pleas Court Judge James Conway ruled in his favor, saying the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can’t try to collect twice on the same deer. Conway ruled that after the ODNR took possession of the deer’s remains, it couldn’t also try to collect restitution. That’s the plain language of state law, Conway wrote.

The judge cited a provision in the law that says the state “may bring a civil action to recover the possession of OR the restitution value” of any wild animal that was taken illegally. Emphasis is added to the “or” the judge cited in the statute.

Unfortunately for Risner, attorneys don’t always agree on the “plain language” of the law.

The Ohio Attorney General’s office appealed, and the Sixth Court of Appeals in Toledo overruled Conway 3-0 in a ruling late last year, writing that nothing in the law prevents ODNR from seeking the restitution.

The appeal filed Feb. 13 on Risner’s behalf to the Ohio Supreme Court by his attorney, Gordon Eyster, asks the Ohio Supreme Court to take the case. It argues that Conway got it right when he ruled the state could take possession of the deer or seek restitution, but not both.

Risner said he always believed in following hunting laws, and he finds it odd he’s in the position of having to fight the state in court.

“I always liked having game wardens,” he said. “To be called a poacher, that hurt me more than anything. I’ve always been on the side of the law”


yea right

wait so the "laws" do not apply to ODNR..then why do they carry guns??hmm i say arrest them all for illeagly carrying weapons
after there is not double jeapody..

getit right be4...

How are they illegally carrying weapons?


Doesn't double jeopardy fit here?


If restitution is appropriate, then the amount is defensible. It sounds like a lot, until you get the facts about the value of such a critter these days.

This is really about other things: the truthfulness of his story, and whether the law is being correctly applied, and whether the law makes sense.

Let's say his story is true. I'm pretty surety sure that even if a hunter legally shoots game on his own land, it doesn't automatically give him unlimited license to trespass all over my land, or yours, or the railroads, in pursuit of a fleeing, injured critter. So if he does so, is he illegally hunting, or just trespassing? Is the answer, "It depends"? Anyone here know? Because I don't. And the reporting on this story isn't even asking that question, much less answering it.

The nov. 2011 SR story is at

Last Month's editorial is a


Factitious. ODNR says the own ALL deer in the State of Ohio until legally harvested. Seeing how they claim ownership on all deer then maybe when I hit a deer on the highway I will bring lawsuit against ODNR for THEIR deer being on the highway and causing damage to my vehicle. See how the wording sounds now? They state in black and white they own ALL DEER till legally harvested.

Pterocarya frax...

Let us know how that works out for you.

Actually, the state should charge you for hitting the deer and destroying state property...which is what they are really doing to ol' Arlie.

sandtown born a...

Would they be Persuing similar fines had it been a doe or spike? Prob not, big buck they found some way for it to be illegal ( tracking onto railroad property) sounds pretty stinky to me and wow what a fine


How's Arlies Tree Service doing?


So who's paying for the damages to my car if I hit one of these?


Your auto insurance company.