Michigan Cuffs & Collars – January 17th, 2014

DISTRICT 1

CO Trey Luce checked a local deer processor after firearms deer season. Several suspicious firearms license purchases led to one of the subjects being checked at his residence. The hunter purchased two firearms licenses in November, one in the second week of the firearms season. A short interview led to a second buck in the subject’s garage with the second tag attached. The deer and rifle were seized, and the hunter was issued a ticket for taking an overlimit of deer and purchasing more licenses than allowed.
COs Elton Luce and Mark Leadman responded to a complaint near Marquette of a safety zone violation. Their investigation led to neighboring Alger County, where they located two subjects whose violations included hunting after hours, hunting within a safety zone, improper tagging, and trespassing. Empty beer cans and alcohol caps found on the drag trail were addressed, with tickets issued for littering, as well.
CO Brian Bacon reported that an individual who shot a deer at night with a crossbow was recently sentenced in Dickinson County. The individual was immediately ordered to serve five days in jail, forfeit his crossbow, pay reimbursement of $1,000 plus fines and costs, and lost his hunting privileges for the next three years.
CO Grant Emery responded to a complaint about two subjects with four possible illegal deer in possession. CO Emery was able to locate the deer and interview the two suspects. None of the four deer were tagged. Multiple charges are being sought, including the taking of antlerless deer in a DMU closed to antlerless deer harvest and multiple tag violations.
CO Jason Wicklund responded to a complaint about a wolf collar in mortality mode in Gogebic County. The CO located the signal of the collar coming from a river, but due to heavy snow and ice, was unable to retrieve it. After a few days of rain and warmer weather, the CO returned with wildlife personnel and recovered the collar a short distance from the bridge. The collar was cut deliberately and thrown into the river. The investigation is ongoing.

DISTRICT 2

CO Brett Gustafson worked a shift with an intern from Lake Superior State University. During the patrol they contacted three deer hunters driving down a back road where numerous complaints about shooting from vehicles had been received. The father was driving, his young son was next to him, and the driver’s brother sat by the open sliding door of the minivan. The gun was unloaded and in a case by the time CO Gustafson got to the frantically moving hunter in the backseat.
CO Kevin Postma and Sgt. Gerald Thayer deployed the deer decoy in a complaint area frequented by road hunters. One hunter, while driving to his stand, noticed the deer and skidded to a stop in the roadway. CO Postma approached the vehicle from the rear and looked in the windows to find the hunter frantically uncasing and loading his rifle. After the rifle was loaded, CO Postma determined he had seen enough and knocked on the window. After the CO had knocked on the window a second time, the hunter finally noticed CO Postma standing there and reality set in. The hunter was ticketed for possessing an uncased/loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.
CO Mike Hammill was following up on a complaint about several hunters hearing late shots the last night of the firearms season. CO Hammill pulled into a suspect camp in the complaint area and immediately observed a bloody drag mark to a butchering pole just outside the camp yard. The CO followed the drag in both directions. A short walk revealed that the individual hunting at the camp illegally harvested a doe the last night of the season. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Kyle Publiski was on routine patrol when a shot rang out close by. The CO attempted to locate where the shot had come from and eventually found tracks in the snow. Upon following the tracks, he found a hunter who had a combination license for kill tags and decided to illegally shoot a 3-point buck.
CO Michael Evink was on his way to investigate a complaint when, due to icy road conditions, he changed his route and plans and turned down a lake access road. CO Evink observed a vehicle parked at the edge of the lake, and two people fishing on the very thin ice. Once contact was made, it was evident that the anglers did not expect to see the CO. They were using 11 tip-ups, five over the legal limit. Both were issued tickets for fishing with too many lines.

DISTRICT 3

CO Mike Feagan had received a Report-All-Poaching (RAP) complaint about a nonresident hunting with resident licenses for several years, and bragging about getting away with it. CO Feagan checked several times and was finally able to contact the suspect one of the last days of deer season. Enforcement action was taken.
On the last day of deer season, CO Andrea Erratt found a hunter walking on a road almost an hour after hunting hours. The subject was intoxicated, and his firearm was still loaded. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Andrea Erratt followed up on a complaint from opening day regarding an antler point restriction violation and untagged deer. The suspect stated he shot the 3-point buck in Otsego County, although witnesses indicated he shot it in Antrim County. The suspect’s story eventually fell apart and he was ticketed.
While en route to a complaint about an untagged deer, CO Andrea Erratt received a message that the complainant called back and said to disregard; the deer was tagged. CO Erratt continued to the location and found an untagged deer. A ticket was issued.
CO Carl VanderWall located a vehicle in a remote area of state land and followed tracks through the snow that led to a subject hunting in a treestand. The subject was a tribal hunter who was without hunter orange, without a tribal kill tag, and had failed to put identification on the stand. The subject was turned over to tribal COs for enforcement action.
CO Bill Webster checked an ice angler who had three tip-ups out and was using a jig pole. When the CO contacted him, he stated he was surprised to see a CO due to the two to three inches of ice on the lake. He was ticketed for fishing with too many lines.
CO Bill Webster contacted a hunter who was hunting over an apple tree. When asked if he knew why the CO was checking him, he stated he was not baiting. CO Webster agreed he was hunting over an apple tree, but noted that apples grown in the wild did not come with grocery store stickers on them. The hunter admitted to putting more apples under the tree and was ticketed for hunting over bait.
CO Kelly Ross and Sgt. Joe Molnar are continuing an investigation of a cow elk that was shot by a deer hunter in Montmorency County. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gaylord DNR office at (989) 732-3541 or the RAP hotline at 1-800-292-7800.

DISTRICT 4

CO Steve Converse responded to a complaint about a subject who had posted a picture of a deer he had supposedly harvested in October on his Facebook page. The complainant stated he had information that the subject didn’t have a valid license to hunt deer. CO Converse went to the suspect residence to look into the information, and when there discovered a freshly taken deer hanging in the garage. Further investigation led to CO Converse issuing tickets for the illegal taking of two deer without licenses.
CO Carla Soper responded to a complaint about subjects keeping undersized brown trout at Tippy Dam on the Big Manistee River. CO Soper was able to make contact with a group of nonresident anglers who were hiding the trout in a plastic grocery bag underneath a log. One subject admitted that he was responsible for keeping all of the trout and wanted them for Christmas dinner. The subject was ticketed for possessing an overlimit and was given a warning for the possession of the undersized trout.
CO Brian Lebel reported that two separate subjects in Osceola County, involving violations of shooting deer with firearms during the archery season, pleaded guilty and each were assessed $1,425 in fines, costs, and restitution, along with the loss of all hunting privileges for four years.
CO Brian Lebel observed two subjects walking a remote ditch in an area in which he had received reports of trap theft. CO Lebel was able to locate a dead raccoon in the bed of the subjects’ pickup truck. One of the subjects was uncooperative upon contact and later was found to have two outstanding warrants for his arrest and was currently on a 12-year hunting and trapping revocation due to multiple convictions of hunting infractions. The second subject did not possess a valid fur harvester license but claimed that the raccoon was hers. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Angela Greenway received a complaint about a spike buck hanging in a tree outside of a cabin in one of the new antler point restriction counties. CO Greenway responded to the location and conducted an interview with the subject who killed the buck. The subject admitted to shooting the deer in the APR county. Further inspection revealed that the subject also failed to validate his kill tag on the deer. The buck was seized, and enforcement action was taken.

DISTRICT 5

CO Jason McCullough responded to a complaint about possible trespass. The landowner had located a blood trail as well as drag marks on his property. The property owner then located a second deer that had been shot on his property. While CO McCullough was investigating the complaint, he observed the neighbor going into the woods for the afternoon hunt. The CO contacted the hunter, who admitted to shooting the two deer. The subject thought that he had only killed one deer. However, when he began looking for the deer he realized he had killed two deer. The subject did not have a license for the second deer, so he left the deer in the woods so he could retrieve it after dark. The subject had brought out a crossbow and an archery license for the afternoon hunt.
CO Steve Lockwood made contact with a subject to check for deer-hunting success. The subject said he had a deer in the garage and took the CO to the garage and showed him the freshly killed antlerless deer. The subject then took a tag off of a chair and stated, “Here is the tag.” As he handed the tag to the CO, he stated he was going to validate the tag. CO Lockwood observed the head of a 4-point buck on the floor of the garage and asked the subject about that deer. The subject advised that he’d shot the deer and he was going to put his tag on it. The CO asked the individual about tagging his deer, and the subject stated he could tag it right now if he wanted him to do so. Enforcement action was taken.
CO Chris Bowen received a complaint from township police officers who responded to a car/deer accident. The officers determined the individuals driving the car were not involved in a car/deer accident, but had struck a tree with their vehicle and attempted to cover it up by putting deer hair in the grill of the vehicle. CO Bowen assisted the officers at the subject’s residence to investigate the deer used to cover up the accident. The deer was untagged, and CO Bowen issued a ticket for the violation. In addition, the individual was in possession of a substantial number of sheriff’s department uniform parts. The investigation is ongoing.
CO Mike Hearn was investigating a complaint involving trespassing and malicious destruction of property and was attempting to contact a possible suspect at a residence. No one was home at the residence, and as CO Hearn was leaving, he contacted the homeowner entering the driveway. The subject had an uncased, loaded firearm in the vehicle, but was not the suspect in the original complaint. The individual was ticketed for transporting a loaded gun in a motor vehicle.

DISTRICT 6

CO Bob Hobkirk received a complaint about a hunter trespassing on the complainant’s farmland. When CO Hobkirk arrived at the location of the trespass, the suspect had gone back onto a neighboring property. With patchy snow covering the ground, CO Hobkirk was able to track the suspect through head-high grass, where he was hiding. A recreational trespass ticket was issued.
On the first weekend of the muzzleloader season, CO Bob Hobkirk observed a truck sitting in a field after dark. When the truck came to the road, the CO contacted the two occupants. After checking the hunters and the deer in the bed of the truck, it was determined that the antlerless deer had been taken without the proper license. A ticket was issued to the hunter, and the deer was seized.
Sgt. Ron Kimmerly received a complaint during the late-season pheasant opener that there were road hunters attempting to take pheasants near the Shiawassee River State Game Area. When the officer arrived in the area, he observed several vehicles parked along the road, one hunter in a cornfield with a dog, and one vehicle being driven slowly down the road. The officer stopped the vehicle and found the passenger with an uncased shotgun on his lap. He also had no small-game license. Tickets were issued.
Sgt. Ron Kimmerly was working two-tracks in Midland County and following a trail of beer cans that someone had been tossing out a moving vehicle’s window. The officer found a parked vehicle with a half-empty case of the same brand of beer cans. While the officer waited for the hunter of the parked vehicle to return, a friend of the hunter drove up and the officer asked how his hunt was. He advised he’d shot a 6-point buck and used his combination license. When the officer asked to see his remaining tag, the hunter handed him both combination license kill tags. The hunter said he must have forgotten to tag it. The officer said he would follow him back to his residence to check the deer. Upon arrival, Sgt. Kimmerly found out that the suspect’s brother shot an 8-point that was already cut up and processed. The officer then asked this hunter if he could see his deer tags. This hunter also had two unused combination license kill tags. He told the officer that the only thing he knew was that he tagged it with something. He went on to say that it may have been the 2010 tag that was the same color as this year’s tag. Tickets were issued to both individuals.

DISTRICT 7

CO Chris Holmes received a tip that a subject had three deer hanging in his garage. CO Holmes followed up on the information and found that all three deer were tagged, but after several interviews found numerous violations. The deer were shot prior to the person purchasing licenses, licenses were loaned or borrowed, and one subject purchased licenses without first taking hunter safety.
COs Chuck Towns and Michael Mshar assisted in the search for a lost hunter in the Allegan SGA. It had been stated that the subject was diabetic and severely cold and had become disoriented. Tracking conditions had become hampered due to snowfall, but with the landscape description the lost hunter had provided,  they were able to locate the subject and return him safely to his vehicle. The subject was provided with food and water by CO Mshar to aid his medical condition.
Sgt. Jeff Rabbers responded to a waterfowl trespass complaint received from a local landowner. He was able to locate the hunters just before they ended their hunt. When asked if they knew who the landowner was and if they had permission, the hunt leader indicated he had been given permission to hunt that field during the summer. When contact was made with the landowner by Sgt. Rabbers, it was determined that three years earlier one of the subjects had been given permission to hunt other property owned by the complainant and had been told that was the only area he could hunt and needed to request permission each time he went out hunting. Three Canada geese and two mallards were confiscated, and the subjects were issued tickets.
CO Steve Mooney received a trespass complaint about two subjects in a canoe. CO Mooney was able to walk back into the section and located the two subjects, deer hunting from the canoe without permission. CO Mooney observed that the two subjects were using a post hole digger as a paddle, and one of the subjects did not have his kill tag in his possession. Enforcement action was taken.

DISTRICT 8

CO Rich Nickols took a complaint from central dispatch about a bullet that went through a window and interior wall of a house. CO Nickols was able to determine the location of the shooter and found fresh deer tracks near that location. After conducting interviews, CO Nickols found two hunters who were in the area that afternoon, and they both shot at a deer. Both were using the same ammunition as the bullet that was recovered from the house. The homeowner knew the hunters and did not want charges filed.
While investigating an ongoing complaint of road hunting before daylight on Thanksgiving morning, CO Damon Owens and Sgt. Troy Bahlau located a subject in full camouflage with a shotgun, who was crossing a dead end road to enter a section of the North Branch of the Kalamazoo River. Contact was made with the subject, who stated he had wounded a duck and was attempting to locate it. The subject stated he did not have his hunting license on his person but assured the COs that he did have a small-game license. An investigation revealed that the subject was a nonresident and was hunting without a state waterfowl license, federal stamp, or a small-game license. Enforcement action was taken.
On Thanksgiving Day, CO Damon Owens and Sgt. Troy Bahlau responded to vague complaint about a deer carcass that was dumped and that was missing its hindquarters. After patrolling the area where the violation had taken place, the COs located the untagged carcasses and a subject who was in possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and hindquarters of deer in his garage. The subject was ticketed for the firearm violation, and a forensics investigation along with a report is pending for the illegally taken deer.
CO Derek Miller responded to a complaint about two subjects tracking a deer through someone’s backyard in a subdivision and firing a shot very close to the house. CO Miller was able to track a subject through the woods, back to their parked vehicle. The subjects hunting and tracking the deer originally denied being close to the house, and stated they were not trespassing. A brief interview revealed that the subjects took their last shot at the deer near a “no trespassing” sign and near a trash pile. Back at the scene, CO Miller measured from the location of the last shot to the house. The shot was fired 55 yards from the complainant’s kitchen window. Enforcement action was taken.

DISTRICT 9

While checking hunters at the Pointe Mouillee SGA, CO Dan Walzak was contacted by an individual who asked if anyone had turned in a lost shotgun. CO Walzak told the hunter that he was not aware of anyone finding or returning a lost shotgun. Disappointed, the subject went on to explain how he had lost the shotgun and gave the CO a detailed description of the lost property. CO Walzak took down contact information and assured the hunter that he would be contacted if it was found. About three hours later, almost 10 miles away from where the shotgun was lost, and seven hours after it was lost, another subject flagged down CO Walzak along the road to report that he had found a shotgun at Pointe Mouillee. The description matched that given by the owner, and the individual led the CO to his residence where he turned over the lost property. When CO Walzak commended the man for his honesty, the individual simply replied, “It’s the right thing to do.” The shotgun was delivered to the grateful owner.
CO Ken Kovach reports the disposition of a case involving a subject who shined during the month of November, with a weapon loaded in a motor vehicle. The subject pleaded guilty and was fined more than $900 for the violations.
CO Kris Kiel was patrolling St. Clair County when he observed a vehicle whose driver was suspected of road hunting. When the subject pulled into a field, the CO pulled in behind him. CO Kiel asked the subject what he was doing and if he had a firearm in the vehicle. The subject said that he did have a firearm, but did not have an intelligent answer for why he was driving around during prime time on the last day of the firearms deer season. When the CO asked how his season was, the subject stated that he shot a 4-point on the second day. When asked for a hunting license, the subject produced both combination licenses. When asked what he had tagged the 4-point with, the subject said, “My first gun license.” The combination licenses were seized, and enforcement action was taken.

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