East Peoria hunter indicted on poaching charges

By Holly Eaton for Chronicle Media

Days after he was indicted on federal deer poaching charges, Chris Brackett, 41, continues to post phots and advice on deer hunting to his Facebook page. Bracket is accused of killing two bucks in Indiana in 2013, then crossing the state border into Illinois. Indiana only allows one buck per person per season. (Photo from Chris Brackett’s Facebook)

What’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander, and when it comes to hunting, rules are rules.

On Nov. 15, hunting show host, Christopher Brackett, 41, of East Peoria, was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly poaching deer in Indiana.

Brackett hosted the popular hunting cable show, “Fear No Evil”, which first aired on the Outdoor Channel on April 4, 2011.

According to the U.S. States Attorney Central District office in Springfield, in 2013 Brackett killed two bucks, then transported them across state lines to Illinois. During muzzleloader season, Indiana allows one deer of either gender per person. In 2013, Indiana’s muzzleloader season was Dec. 7-22.

The indictment charges Brackett with two Lacey Act infractions; violation of the Lacey Act and conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. Both are federal offenses. Enacted in 1900, the Lacey Act bans trafficking in illegal wildlife, and was recently amended to include plants and plant products.

Knowingly violating the Lacey Act imposes penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,00.

The allegations stem from a Dec. 21, 2013 Indiana hunting excursion. Brackett shot a video in which he first killed an 8-point buck then quickly reloaded his muzzleloader and killed a more impressive 11-point buck.

Dr. Joe Caudell, state research biologist for the Indiana Department of Natural resources, said Indiana implemented the “one buck” rule in the early 2000s.

“It was actually a push by a lot of hunters and hunting groups to help distribute the buck harvest to more people,” he explained. “One buck can also breed with a lot of does, so more doe permits during hunting season helps keep a balanced sex ratio and prevents overpopulation.”

On Dec. 21, 2013, cable hunting show host Chris Brackett was filmed in Indiana shooting two bucks by muzzleloader rifle within minutes of each other. Indiana only allows one deer per person during muzzleloader season. Brackett later edited the video to show one kill, that of the larger “Unicorn Buck” shown here. (Photo from Chris Brackett’s Facebook)

Bracket registered the larger buck with the State of Indiana under his name. The next day, Brackett is alleged to have bought a second non-resident muzzleloader deer permit using his camera man’s name, and assigned it to the 8-pointer.

The deer were then taken to Illinois. Transporting illegally harvested game across state lines is also a violation of the Lacey Act. The video was then edited to feature only one kill, the larger buck, and was aired in a fall 2014 episode of his cable show’s third season.

Brackett nicknamed the larger deer “The Unicorn Buck” due to the extra brow spike at the base of the buck’s right antler. Nearly four years passed before the unedited video of the Indiana hunt was published on the Internet.

The video became widespread, and shortly after it was published, Brackett’s show was canceled. Corporate sponsors such as ScentLok, Bloodsport Archery and Grizzly Coolers quickly distanced themselves from Brackett, as well.

“Grizzly Coolers has become aware of the recent alleged violation of hunting laws involving one of our sponsored shows, Fear No Evil … we take these violations seriously as we believe in the promotion of ethical hunting at all times,” Grizzly Coolers wrote in a Nov. 14, 2017 post to Facebook. “Grizzly Coolers has terminated its association with ‘Fear No Evil’ and their personalities, effective immediately.”

Brackett’s video set in motion a cooperative investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Illinois’ and Indiana’s Departments of Natural Resources. The U.S. District Clerk of the Court will schedule the date for him to appear for arraignment in Peoria’s federal court.

Despite the looming arraignment and possible prison sentence and fines, Brackett continues to maintain an active Facebook page and website dedicated to the “Fear No Evil” slogan. On Nov. 30, Bracket posted his 2007 Triton boat for sale for $9,000; the boat he used in 2009 when he became known for “extreme aerial bow fishing”.

Brackett also maintaines his website, www.fearnoevil.com. There, he sells complete seasons of “Fear No Evil” on DVD and signed antlers with custom messages. Under other website tabs is an album of Brackett’s kills and a mission page in which he boasts of his accomplishments.

The name of the “Fear No Evil” cameraman has not been released, but on Brackett’s website, under the The Mission tab, is written, “Every week, Chris Brackett and cameraman Josh Foreman will take you to the front lines of the most awesome hunts across this country they can find, adding their Midwestern strategies combined with the expert local knowledge and experience of master guides and outfitters native to there (sic) killing fields.”