CJ Alexander Indicted on 23 Criminal Charges After Shooting What Could’ve Been the Third-Largest Record Whitetail Ever

CJ Alexander Indicted on 23 Criminal Charges After Shooting What Could’ve Been the Third-Largest Record Whitetail Ever

After he killed what may have been one of the largest whitetail deer of all time last fall, Ohio resident Christopher “CJ” Alexander has been indicted on 23 charges as a result of an Ohio DNR investigation, the agency confirmed with Outdoor Life.

The news is the latest installment in the CJ Alexander saga, which began in November when Alexander killed the giant deer, then gave interviews with hunting publications, including OL, about how he allegedly took the 18-point buck while hunting with a crossbow on his sister’s 30-acre property in Ohio. This version of the story was thrown into question in December when the Ohio DNR seized the buck and opened a poaching investigation.

“Wildlife officers discovered through warranted searches of cellphone data that Christopher Alexander had illegally hunted the trophy buck on private property about 10 miles from his sister’s land, and later learned that the written permission from his sister he had presented to wildlife officers had been falsified — after the deer was killed — to mislead authorities,” reads a press release from the Ohio attorney general’s office, which details the indictment that was handed down by a Clinton County grand jury Friday.

“Evidence revealed Christopher Alexander staged the deer taking at his sister’s property with the help of Corey P. Haunert and his brother, Zachary R. Haunert, to conceal the poaching.”

The charges facing Alexander, 28, of Wilmington, are as follows:

  • Five counts each of illegally hunting deer without written permission, and taking possession of a deer in violation of a division rule.
  • Three counts of theft by deception.
  • Two counts each of hunting without a license, hunting without a valid deer permit, and tampering with evidence.
  • Once count each of jacklighting, theft, falsification, and sale of wildlife parts.

Additional charges were filed Friday against Corey Haunert, Zachary Haunert, and CJ’s sister, Kristina Alexander, confirms Ohio DNR chief of communications Andy Chow.

Corey Haunert, 29, of Hillsboro faces eight charges. These include: Four counts of aiding a wildlife offender, two counts of hunting without permission, and one count each of tampering with evidence and falsification. Zachary Haunert, 31, of Lebanon, faces two misdemeanor counts of aiding a wildlife offender. Kristina, 37, of Blanchester, faces one count of falsification, and one count of aiding a wildlife offender.

Over the course of the DNR’s five-month investigation, Alexander has repeatedly said that he’s been wrongfully accused, doubling down on his claims that he took the buck legally on his sister’s property. Before it was seized by authorities the buck was scored by the Ohio’s Buckeye Big Buck Club, which uses the Boone and Crockett scoring system, and given a green score of 206 7/8 inches typical, along with a gross nontypical score of 235 7/8. With that preliminary score, the buck would have the potential to become the No. 1 typical whitetail taken in the state of Ohio, and the No. 3 typical whitetail taken in North America.

After investigators seized the buck’s antlers, a crossbow, crossbow bolts, and tree stand, Alexander appears to have been served a summons on Feb. 5, according to a screenshot of the Clinton County municipal court’s then-current timeline of legal proceedings. Alexander posted the image himself to his Instagram account, along with the following message:

“Asking me to forfeit MY property instead of charging me criminally btw the answer of the defendant was FUCK OFF”

At the time, ODNR declined to comment on any charges or pending legal actions against Alexander, citing its policy for not discussing all ongoing investigations. Then, on Feb. 6, a notice of appearance by the attorney for Alexander was filed, indicating that Alexander had obtained legal counsel.

Alexander is scheduled to appear in court for the first time later this month. Ohio attorney general Dave Yost says the case will be prosecuted by attorneys from the state’s Environmental Enforcement Section. It’s unclear who will represent Alexander.

“Blinded by greed, the defendants set their sights on fame and fortune while disregarding basic hunting regulations,” Yost said in a statement Friday. “This once-in-a-lifetime deer embodies the great natural resources Ohio has to offer. It’s shameful that this deer ended up in an evidence room rather than adorning an ethical hunter’s wall as a prized trophy.”

As previously reported, according to Section 1531.201 of the Ohio Revised Code, anyone found guilty of illegally taking a deer over 125 inches gross score shall be ordered to pay a special restitution fee in addition to any restitution value established in division rule. This additional fine is calculated using the following formula: ((gross score – 100)² x $1.65). Should DNR officials find the Alexander buck’s widely reported gross score of 235 ⅞ inches to be accurate, Alexander could receive an additional fine of $30,462.33 if convicted.”

Alexander did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article by Hayden Sammak was first published by Outdoor Life on 10 May 2024. Lead Image: CJ Alexander with his Ohio buck. Photo by Sierra Smith.

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