EATON — An Eaton taxidermist now has his license suspended after he was charged with corrupt business influence and theft.
Shawn Huntington is the owner of Buck Fever Taxidermy. On Wednesday, Huntington was arrested and his taxidermy license was suspended by the Department of Natural Resources.
DNR also ordered Huntington to return all property back to customers.
Customers who want their property returned will need to bring any receipts, canceled checks or other items that may show ownership of an item, as well as a valid form of identification
DNR says all customers of Buck Fever Taxidermy who want their property returned will need to attend one of the two dates set for the exchange because Huntington will not be authorized to return property outside of these dates.
Customers can get their items from Indiana Conservation Officers District 4 headquarters, which is at 3734 Mounds Road in Anderson, 46017, phone 765-649-1062 on:
- Friday, Jan. 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"Return of property does not release the civil culpability of Huntington or Buck Fever Taxidermy" DNR said in a news release. "Any further restitution of money or damage to the items must be handled in a civil proceeding."
Court documents show the charges date back to 2019 involving 12 victims.
On August 1, 2022, a Buck Fever Taxidermy customer filed a complaint who had given the business a deer but couldn't get ahold of Huntington by phone or via notes left on the business' door.
Court documents say from July 2021 to August 2022, Indiana conservation officers met with Huntington a minimum of five times regarding complaints about his business. Those complaints said Huntington:
- did not complete work
- took longer than anticipated
- didn't answer phone calls
- not keeping customers updated on the status of their taxidermy work
"During these previous meetings, Shawn has advised multiple excuses such as he has not received messages, calls and also advised his phone was not working," a probable cause affidavit said. "During these meetings the ICO's received status updates for the customers or directly assisted with contact between Huntington and the customer while on scene allowing Huntington to use our cell phones."
During an August 9, 2022 meeting, Huntington said he did not get calls because his phone was wi-fi only and didn't find any of the customers' notes. He also said "money and life" were causing the hold up on his work.
The conservation officers told Huntington that matters can turn criminal when customers are not receiving the products they paid for and items belonging to customers are not being returned.
"Huntington advised that he is aware of his obligations and advised that he planned to get the work caught up and implied that he was going to be done with taxidermy," the affidavit read.
When asked how far behind he was, the affidavit says Huntington told them he was in October 2020, making him two seasons behind. He had collected down payments of around $225 from his customers.
Before officers left, Huntington also said he would not take in any further work from the 2021 deer season.
The affidavit says Huntington was a taxidermist for over five years and had "limited to no complaints" until the last year and a half.
Officers also found "numerous errors" in Huntington's records and tagging in his business, including the species and number of animals. By law, that information needs to be documented.
No hearing dates have been set.
You can view a list of current Indiana licensed taxidermists here.