A $5000 reward has been pledged by a Birdwood farmer for any information leading to the persons responsible for the inhumane and brazen slaughter of two deer on his property last weekend.
Deer Farm and Birdwood Venison owner Mike Kasprzak said the reward would be money well spent in terms of the emotions, including anger, it has caused him and his family.
“At the end of the day I just want to see a conviction,” Mr Kasprzak said.
Mr Kasprzak believed the incident occurred sometime over Friday night and the early hours of Saturday morning.
He said he had seen his wife Nancy off to the weekly farmer’s market at 5.30am on Saturday and a thick fog had made it hard to see past three or four metres.
“Later I went to do my chores and I could see two of the bucks right up the back paddock laying in the sun. I didn’t give it a thought,” he said.
However by afternoon, Mr Kasprzak became concerned when he noticed the deer still hadn’t moved.
He explained how during last year’s mating season – “the rut” – he’d lost four deer to fighting and assumed the same thing had occurred.
“So I got on the quad and went in there and found their heads were missing.”
In the 30 years Mr Kasprzak has run his deer farm, he has never been the victim of such an attack.
However, he believed the incident may have been triggered about nine months ago after he advertised on the internet his prized buck, worth more than $5000 and important for his business because of its strong gene pool.
“Basically these people take the heads off and put them on a mount and then hang them on their walls.”
And Mr Kasprzak described their behaviour as “sheer lunacy”.
“I’m a hunter, I have no problem with hunting, but I have a problem with people who go out in the field and shoot the biggest and the best and destroy the gene pool,” he said.
“I think these people get a kick more out of the adventure than the heads.”
Mr Kasprzak said he was more than happy to sell anyone a pair of antlers.
“These deer cast their antlers every year and grow bigger and better sets, so all people have to do is knock on the door and they can do what they like with them; they don’t have to shoot the animal in the middle of the night to get a trophy.”
The deer business, which is run on 80 acres, is the biggest within the Adelaide Hills, and provides both live deer sales as well as supplying venison to restaurants.
“We breed for temperament, body weight for weight of antler and antlers, in that order, so the temperament flows throughout.
“When these people got into the paddock these deer would have walked over thinking I was going to give them a hand out of apples or bread.”
Unfortunately neither Mr Kasprzak nor his wife heard anything suspicious over the weekend.
Mr Kasprzak firmly believed the animals were shot within close range with a silencer.
“No damage was done to the body, just the head was taken,” he added.
Mr Kasprzak also believed the thieves would have previously stalked his property with successful entry gained via the main road and crossing a creek.
“They knew where they were going,” he said.
The double fence, a buffer surrounding the property and used to keep out wild deer from the nearby Mount Crawfor Forest during the rut season, had not prevented the hunters.
However, the thick fog that had set in over night and early morning was a blessing in disguise.
Mr Kasprzak said it would have prevented the thieves from the beheading of other bucks, including his prized buck.
“These bucks were used for breeders for sales, they were damn good bucks.
“It’s $600 just for the meat, but these guys’ average live sale price is between $2000 to $3500. These two were $3500 each.”
Following the attack, Mr Kasprzak received a call from a deer farmer located in the South East – one of the state’s largest deer holdings.
“He told me he lost 78 deer to poachers last year,” Mr Kasprzak said.
“It’s quite a big criminal enterprise.
“Whoever did this, if they have been bragging, I think they would be feeling pretty nervous.”
For now, Gumeracha Police – who are investigating the incident – have told the Kasprzak family they would increase patrols.
“If they see someone at 3am that shouldn’t be there, they will stop them,” Mr Kasprzak said.
Since alerting police and the media to the attack, Mr Kasprzak said he had received plenty of response.
“Lots of empathy and sympathy, but no leads to the thieves.
“There’s no honour among thieves and we are relying on someone to dob them in.”
If you have information about the incident, please contact police on 131 444 or Birdwood Venison on 8568 5301.