Lansing man receives federal prison time for guiding, outfitting illegal deer hunts

A Lansing man who was convicted of guiding and outfitting illegal deer hunts several years ago was sentenced Thursday, September 23 to federal prison, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice U.S. Attorney Northern District of Iowa. Cory Gene Fritzler, age 46, from Lansing received the prison term after a March 18 guilty plea this year to one count of conspiracy.

Fritzler was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. His sentence includes two months of imprisonment in a federal facility, two months of home detention, and a fine of $5,000. Fritzler must also serve a one-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

According to evidence provided at Fritzler’s plea, sentencing and other hearings, the release stated that he operated a guiding and outfitting business in northeast Iowa known as “NE Iowa Outfitters.” Federal officials noted in the release that the northeast Iowa region is nationally recognized as a prime geographic area for hunting mature whitetail buck deer, further reporting that many hunters travel to northeast Iowa from all over the United States to hunt high-value, mature buck deer with large antlers. Federal officials further note, however, that the demand for out-of-state hunting licenses greatly exceeds the supply available to meet that demand.

According to the release, Fritzler agreed to conduct an illegal hunt during the 2015 hunting season with two hunters from Florida who were actually undercover law enforcement officers. The agreed-upon cost of the illegal, five-day hunt was $3,450 per person, plus an additional $500 per person for illegal licenses that Fritzler provided. It was noted that Fritzler recruited others to participate in the illegal hunting scheme by applying for and receiving Iowa hunting licenses and tags to cover the deer.

That same hunting season, Fritzler was noted as legally having provided guiding and outfitting services to two non-resident hunters from Louisiana. Evidence further showed that in 2015, one of those hunters shot a valuable “double drop tine buck” but wounded this deer in its backside only and did not fully harvest it. When the hunters did not obtain out-of-state licenses the next year to obtain this deer, referred to as “the Monster Buck,” Fritzler accepted $3,450 from the hunters to guide and outfit their illegal hunts during the 2016 hunting season, according to court documents.

The release further states that Fritzler instructed the Louisiana hunters to tell people, falsely, that they were hunting in a public area in Wisconsin to hide the fact that they were illegally hunting on Fritzler’s ground in Iowa. When questioned by law enforcement, Fritzler and the Louisiana hunters falsely stated they were hunting in Wisconsin. Authorities further noted that in the ensuing months, Fritzler later encouraged the Louisiana hunters to continue to “stick to their story” as law enforcement was investigating the case.

Fritzler was released on the bond previously set and was scheduled to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on an undisclosed date to serve his sentence. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.