TV celebrity hunter sues TWRA for $1.3 million
Larry Woody, Outdoors Writer
Dec 15, 2015 at 3:03 PM
The host of a TV hunting show has filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and some of its officials.
William "Spook" Spann of Dickson claims the actions of the TWRA and some of its personnel cost him "lost revenue, damage to his reputation, humiliation and anxiety."
Should Spann win his suit it would be the biggest such judgment levied against the Agency in its 65-year history.
Details of the lawsuit were reported by Nooga.com Outdoors, which has been chronicling Spann's legal problems dating back to his being charged with -- and eventually convicted of -- illegally killing a deer in Kansas in 2007.
Spann transported the antlers of the illegally-killed "trophy" buck to Tennessee, which added to the seriousness of the violation.
Spann insisted the violation was unintentional -- he thought he had the proper license required to hunt in that particular area, but as it turned out he did not. Last August he plead guilty to the charge.
He was fined and placed on probation. Part of the terms of the probation was that he could not hunt for a specified period of time.
During that probationary period wildlife officials got a tip that Spann was turkey hunting in Tennessee.
He denied the allegation, claiming he was not hunting but merely guiding or assisting other hunters, but he was issued additional penalties.
Spann released this statement concerning his lawsuit:
"For the past three years I have been rigorously targeted by TWRA agents. In 2013 I willingly accepted a six-months hunting probation based on my harvesting of a buck in Kansas after unknowingly purchasing the incorrect hunting license.
"As an avid outdoorsman and sportsman, I fully accepted responsibility in this matter. However, the TWRA has constantly harrassed me, my family and friends -- without success -- in an attempt to find violations in order to end my hunting career, thus threatening my ability to make a living.
"Now that my family has been affected by this, I am no longer able to turn the other cheek, and I look forward to the truth coming out in court."
There were no details available about when and where the lawsuit, filed in Nashville, might be heard, or possibly go to court. Also unclear is the status of Spann's outdoor show, which has been carried on various cable channels.
Richard Simms, editor of Noog.com Outdoors, tried to contact Spann for an interview but was not successful.
TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter told Simms he "was not aware of the lawsuit, but would be unable to comment on any pending legal matter regardless."
Reaction among hunters to the ongoing controversy has been mixed. Some have taken to social media to defend and support Spann, saying he made an innocent mistake and his punishment was too severe. Others say that as a famous spokesperson for the sport, he has an obligation to make sure he understands and obeys all game laws.
Still others say the entire episode is an example of what the growing obsession with "trophy hunting" can lead to.