PEORIA — A Chillicothe man pleaded guilty Thursday to running afoul of federal migratory bird hunting laws.
Rick A. Hamm, 58 and the owner of “Show Me Your Snows,” pleaded in U.S. District Court in Peoria to the unlawful sale of wildlife. Four others, all of whom have pleaded guilty to other counts, were charged in connection with the same incident.
Prosecutors said Hamm scheduled guided hunting trips around central Illinois. On Dec. 17 and 18, 2015, two undercover agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posed as hunters on an excursion in Fulton County. The agents were led to a harvested cornfield near the Illinois River where Hamm allegedly spread a bale of corn stalks around a hunting blind. An electronic caller was used to lure birds into the area. Prosecutors alleged all the men knew that using bait and an electronic caller wasn’t legal. It also alleges the agents were allowed to transport untagged geese they had killed away from the area.
At sentencing, scheduled on Jan. 9, 2020, before U.S. District Judge James Shadid, the government and Hamm have agreed to a sentence of 24 months of probation with the condition that during that time, he is banned from hunting and guiding worldwide. Hamm has also agreed to pay $2,500 in restitution to the state of Illinois and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to pay a $50,000 fine.
This is the second time Hamm has been prosecuted in federal court for wildlife crimes. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to three violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act dealing with shooting waterfowl over the bag limit, transporting untagged waterfowl, and hunting with lead shot. In that case, Hamm paid a $5,000 fine.
Each of Hamm’s co-defendants, Trent Gustafson, Zachary Entwistle, James Schupp, and J. Weston Schupp, have previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing on October 17, 2019, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley.