OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An out of state traveling artist, who tried to sell his wares at an Oklahoma City swap meet, is now low on stock after he said game wardens confiscated his art. According to Oklahoma law, it was illegal for him to sell them in the state.
“He’s seizing my art,” said Dean Summers in a video from that day. “This is something I feel should be taken care of with a warning.”
“I’m like, ‘This is my art. What are you doing?’” Summers told News 4.
For over a decade, Summers has been taking discarded deer skulls, mostly found along the side of the road or in the woods, and dressing them up with gems, stones, and crystals.
“I find them in the woods and if it’s cleaned already by nature, that’s a plus for me,” said Summers. “I’m taking something that nobody wants, buying it at swap meets, maybe for five, ten bucks, then I make into something beautiful again.”
“I’m doing the opposite of what poachers do intentionally,” he said.
Summers said he went to an OKC swap meet, like he has before with no issues. This time, a game warden showed up to respond to complaints and gave Summers a $340 ticket and confiscated his art.
“If I’m traveling through states, do I have to look up every rule on all that stuff?” Summers asked the game warden in the video.
“Yes,” responded the game warden. “If it’s your business, I would look up every rule to make sure that I understand it,” said the game warden.
“When I called by wife up, she’s crying,” said Summers. “It was just like getting robbed because I’ve worked for years to make a name and make this stuff. And those are some of my best pieces.”
Micah Holmes, with the Oklahoma State Wildlife Department, said you can’t sell wildlife parts in Oklahoma. The rule is to protect animals. The law can be read here.
“It’s illegal to sell wildlife or wildlife parts,” said Holmes. “Even when they are legally harvested, you can’t sell that wildlife. Even when it’s part of an art project or something like that, except for very specific circumstances.”
Holmes said antlers that are detached from the skull can be sold and is outlined in the law. He said many of those deer antlers for sale are ones that deer have shed off during the spring.
“So, kind of bottom line, if there’s even a little bit of head attached to the antler, it can’t be sold?” News 4’s Katelyn Ogle asked Holmes. “That’s correct,” Holmes replied.
“I’m willing to just pay the fine and say, ‘Hey, I’m sorry. I won’t come back and try to sell my art ever in this state, again. I’d do that just to get my art back,” said Summers.
Now it would be up to a judge or district attorney to decide if Summers could get his art back. Summers told News 4 he’s been trying to find legal help, but they all decline and wish him good luck.