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Deer season

A buck shot on the opening day of the 2011 rifle deer season.

A Missouri hunter whose successful hunts in Nebraska were featured on episodes of "Dream Season" will serve five years on probation during which he may not hunt, trap, assist or be present with anyone engaged in those activities.

Rodney Owen, 57, was also fined $25,000 and ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution at his sentencing in federal court in Omaha for illegally trafficking wildlife and violating the Lacey Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release.

Owen's conviction is the first formal sentencing in an ongoing prosecution of several defendants in relation to violations committed by owners, guides and clients of Hidden Hills Outfitters, a big game guiding and outfitting business near Broken Bow.

Violations include hunting deer in baited areas; hunting deer, pronghorn and wild turkeys with weapons or firearms prohibited during their respective hunting season; and hunting deer during closed season hours, from the road, or without a valid permit.

In the news release, U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly said Owen traveled to Hidden Hills Outfitters in the fall of 2015, 2016 and 2017, when he and owners and employees of the company had knowledge that proposed hunting locations had been baited.

Nebraska law prohibits hunting within 200 yards of bait. 

During those hunts, Owen took a white-tailed deer in 2015, another white-tailed deer in 2016 and a mule deer in 2017 on property managed by Hidden Hills.

Owen submitted videos of the hunts to Drury Outdoors, the video production company behind the "Dream Season" series. According to the news release, Hidden Hills only charged Owen around half its normal rate in exchange for Owen naming and promoting the outfitter in the videos.

The sentencing followed a joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

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Reach the writer at njohnson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7214.

On Twitter @noahjohnson1996

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