Friday, January 27th, 2023
Friday, January 27th, 2023

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Cuffs & Collars: Field reports from Michigan DNR Conservation Officers

DISTRICT 1

• CO Alex VanWagner observed three deer hanging at a residence near Crystal Falls in Iron County: two 8-point bucks and a doe. One of the bucks did not have a kill-tag and the CO contacted subjects at the house regarding the deer. A female stated that her husband shot the buck that did not have a tag attached and her brother-in-law shot the other two deer which had tags attached. The husband was interviewed and admitted to shooting it more than a week prior. He stated he forgot to tag it but also didn’t plan on tagging it as he was going to process it himself and didn’t think anyone would see it. CO Anna Viau responded to the residence to assist, and the COs observed that the tags on the other 8-point and doe were not validated. An interview was conducted with the brother-in-law who admitted both the deer were shot on the same day without a license. He said the buck was shot in the morning, the doe in the evening, and then the licenses were purchased after dark and attached to the deer. Enforcement action was taken and a report will be submitted to the Iron County Prosecutor’s Office.

• During a processor inspection, CO Alex VanWagner discovered an 8-point buck with a suspicious tag on it and went to a residence in Dickinson County to conduct interviews on it. The tag attached to the deer belonged to a female subject and she initially claimed to have shot the deer while road hunting with her husband. The husband claimed the same story, but further interviewing led to a confession by both subjects that the husband shot the deer from his deer blind without a license. The license was purchased the next day by the wife and placed on the deer. The CO continued interviewing the couple regarding prior deer seasons, and another confession was obtained that the wife bought a tag for a buck the husband shot in 2020 without a license as well. A report will be forwarded to the Dickinson County Prosecutor’s Office.

DISTRICT 2

• CO Todd Sumbera received information that an individual from an ongoing complaint was deer hunting over an excessive amount of bait. CO Sumbera followed up to find a large over-limit of bait and the hunter was not wearing any hunter orange. A citation was issued for no hunter orange and a verbal warning was given for hunting over more than two gallons of bait.

• CO Justin Vinson was patrolling northern Luce County when he discovered several unlawful traps set along a county roadway. All the traps failed to meet the requirements for utilizing traps between 5 1⁄2 inches and 7 1⁄2 inches, with bait, directly on the ground. Several of the traps also were found without tags. The following morning, CO Vinson contacted the trappers while checking their sets. The group was new to trapping and CO Vinson educated them of the legal box dimensions when using body-gripping traps set on the ground and its importance as it prevents non-targeted wildlife and domestic animals from being caught. A citation was issued for using untagged traps, and verbal warnings were given for using unlawful traps.

• CO Cole VanOosten was reviewing the furbearer registration when he came across a suspicious registration of a fisher. CO VanOosten conducted an interview and determined that the fisher was harvested out of season the previous year and stored in the freezer until this year when it was registered. Upon follow up, it was discovered the man had an additional three untagged fisher that were in his freezer. Two of the fishers had been taken out of season.

The animals were seized, and a report was generated and submitted to the Luce County Prosecutor’s Office for failure to immediately tag a fisher, taking a fisher out of season, and taking an over-limit of fisher.

DISTRICT 3

• CO Matt Theunick responded to a trapping complaint near Mackinaw City. Upon investigation there were three violations: trespass, fail to check trap within 24 hours, and no name on the trap. After contacting the trapper and receiving an explanation, enforcement action was taken.

• CO Jack Gorno watched an individual coming out of the woods with a bucket. He set the bucket down behind some trees and came back to the truck. CO Gorno talked the subject into walking back to check his blind and found a bait pile. The subject was ticketed for baiting in a closed area.

• COs Sidney LaLonde and Dan Liestenfeltz were patrolling Montmorency County on the last day of firearms deer season when they witnessed a motor vehicle violation. CO LaLonde initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. After talking with the driver, he admitted to hunting several spots during rifle season. When asked to see the hunter’s deer kill-tags, he admitted to using his grandmother’s deer tags since they were cheaper as a senior citizen. A report was submitted to the prosecutor for hunting without a license and borrowing the kill-tag of another.

• CO Jon Sheppard received a complaint in Alpena County of a woman taking an over-limit of antlered deer. CO Sheppard interviewed the suspect who admitted to shooting a 4-point deer legally earlier in the season and taking a 6-point deer and using her father’s tag. The antlers on the illegal deer were seized, and a report will be submitted to the Alpena County Prosecutor’s Office.

DISTRICT 4

• CO Josiah Killingbeck received a Report All Poaching (RAP) complaint of a shot being fired around midnight from a residence suspected of poaching deer. CO Killingbeck, along with CO Josh Wright, and Sergeant Meyers of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, went to the residence and contact was made. The subject told CO Killingbeck that he had shot at a raccoon getting into his garbage. CO Killingbeck discovered that the subject was a felon who was not supposed to possess firearms. CO Killingbeck seized 15 firearms, including a stolen handgun. CO Killingbeck also discovered three deer that had been shot and processed without kill tags getting validated. A report is being sent to the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office.

• COs Brian Brosky and Kyle Publiski received a complaint of two subjects who had shot a 9-point buck over bait. The COs responded and found a blind with no name or address, bait, litter, and gut pile. The following morning, CO Brosky located the suspect’s camper and vehicle set up nearby. COs Brosky and Publiski contacted the subject who admitted to taking the buck utilizing bait, using the blind with no name or address, and leaving the litter behind. The subject was subsequently charged with all three violations and the 9-point was seized. The subject appeared in court just over a month later and plead guilty/responsible to all three charges and paid fines and costs totaling $7,300, which included mandatory reimbursement to the State Fish and Game Fund in the amount of $6,500 for taking the 9-point deer unlawfully.

• CO Ben Shively received information of two subjects dressed in waders who had parked next to a closed trout stream and were headed downstream to fish in Oceana County. CO Shively observed two anglers actively fishing. CO Shively advised the novice anglers that the trout stream was closed to fishing. One subject stated, “Even if we’re not going to keep them?” The anglers were escorted back to their vehicle where they were cited for fishing a closed trout stream.


Report of the week

District 4

CO Tim Barboza responded to a RAP complaint and conducted an interview with a hunter on a possible untagged deer and potential felon in possession of a firearm violation. The subject also had an open arrest warrant for domestic violence. CO Barboza was able to obtain confessions on the hunting violations but when he advised the hunter he was under arrest for the outstanding warrant, the suspect fled on foot. CO Barboza was able to catch the subject and take him into custody. The subject was lodged, and additional charges are being sought.


DISTRICT 5

• COs Matthew Zultak and Ben McAteer contacted a group of trappers setting bobcat traps. One of the men did not have any traps tagged with identifying information, nor did he have the means to do so. The trapper was issued a citation for possessing and using traps with no identification tags.

• CO Matthew Zultak and Lieutenant Brandon Kieft contacted a group of hunters during the firearms deer season in Roscommon County. They were hunting over bait and not wearing the correct hunter orange garments. It was also determined that one of them was hunting deer without a license. Citations were issued for no hunter orange and hunting without a license.

• CO Josh Russell received a complaint that a deer was shot over a bait pile under a light from a pole barn behind a residence in Clare County. CO Russell and Sgt. Jon Wood contacted a subject at the residence who showed them the pole barn. A hole was located in the side of the barn with a crossbow lying next to it. The hole through the barn overlooked a bait pile that easily was lit up by the front light of the barn. The COs found dried blood and a broken crossbow bolt close to the bait pile. The subject did not know who had shot the deer over the bait but admitted to putting some of the bait out. CO Russell contacted the registered landowner regarding the bait and the blood. The landowner admitted to shooting a deer on another section of the property but not over the bait. A citation was issued for the illegal bait, but the investigation continues for the violations of hunting after hours and use of artificial light.

DISTRICT 6

• CO Mike Eovaldi responded to a complaint of a concerned hunter who found a backpack, several items of clothing, a quiver full of arrows, deer licenses, and other hunting equipment deep in state land in Tuscola County. CO Eovaldi was able to call Huron County Dispatch and issue a welfare check on the individual while enroute to the scene. On scene, CO Eovaldi found the gear described by the complainant in addition to the individual’s wallet. With assistance from the MSP, CO Eovaldi was able to contact the individual who was alive and well. The individual got lost in the state land three weeks ago and could not find where he set down all his gear. CO Eovaldi met up with the individual to return his important items and dropped him a pin on where he could find the rest of his gear.

• While on patrol in northern Isabella County, CO Mike Haas observed new “no trespassing” signs posted on state forest property. The CO visited the neighboring private property to investigate who had illegally posted the property and contacted a hunter sleeping in his deer blind. CO Haas woke up the hunter and inquired about the signs, instructed the man to put on hunter orange since he was rifle hunting, and notified him that the two large piles of sugar beets in his shooting lanes were illegal. A citation was issued, and various warnings were given.

DISTRICT 7

• CO Carter Woodwyk received a RAP complaint of multiple deer carcasses being dumped in a state game area (SGA) parking lot in Allegan County in 2020. The CO consistently worked this location over the years, and – utilizing a trail camera – he was able to obtain photographs of a suspect dumping deer. One of the carcasses dumped had the head of a broken off 2-point buck attached to it. When the CO followed up with the suspect, it was discovered that the suspect had shot two 8-point bucks and had yet to purchase a Michigan deer hunting license. The suspect stated that he did not have time to get one yet. The CO also received a confession from the suspect on dumping the carcasses in the SGA and harvesting the 2-point buck. Charges will be submitted to the prosecutor for taking antlered deer without a license, taking an over-limit of antlered deer, and littering.

• CO Sam Schluckbier checked a hunter driving out of the Allegan SGA. When speaking with him, the hunter admitted to not discharging or casing his crossbow and placing it in the backseat. While searching the vehicle, CO Schluckbier found a bag of carrots used for deer bait. The hunter’s treestand was located nearby, along with a bait pile consisting of carrots. The hunter claimed they were not his, and he was just taking the bag of carrots to a friend who hunts private property. CO Schluckbier educated him on the laws he was violating. Charges will be sought through the Allegan County Prosecutor’s Office.

• CO Jackie Miskovich received complaints of late shooting and people hunting in restricted areas, when she came upon two individuals, a youth hunter and a parent. The parent did not have kill-tags or any form of identification and was deer hunting, The youth hunter did not have any licenses at all and was carrying a .22. They were also in a restricted area. CO Miskovich issued a citation to the parent.

DISTRICT 8

• CO Chris Reynolds continued to investigate hunters who shot deer in a recent deer case where hunters were borrowing family members tags. While looking into one of the hunters, it was found that the hunter shot a deer prior to having a license. The hunter confessed to shooting the deer before having his license and shooting another deer later in the season. CO Reynolds checked processor records and it appears that one of the tags from the hunter was used twice. CO Reynolds will seek charges for all offenses uncovered in the investigation.

• CO Jason McCullough received a call from a subject in Jackson County advising his neighbor had killed four antlered deer so far during the 2022 deer season. CO McCullough contacted CO Cullen Knoblauch to check a deer processor that the suspect uses and located two transactions of the suspect dropping off antlered deer. One of the antlered deer had the license belonging to the suspect’s landlord, who was an 83-year-old female. COs Knoblauch and McCullough responded to the suspect’s address to interview the suspect who admitted to killing a total of four antlered deer during the 2022 seasons. The suspect killed a spike, 6-point, 8-point, and 9-point this year. The suspect used his landlord’s license and his wife’s tags. COs Knoblauch and McCullough seized the 9-point deer killed the night prior and the antlers from the 8-point. The case will be forwarded to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office seeking multiple charges.

DISTRICT 9

• COs Dave Schaumburger, Brad Silorey, and Sydney Griffor conducted a group waterfowl patrol on Lake St. Clair. The three COs did not see many birds but found one hunter to be using a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells. While they came up on a group driving their boat, they discovered that one of the hunters did not unload his firearm. Citations were issued for each of the violations.

• Acting Sgt. Justin Muehlhauser responded to a complaint about two hunters who were observed entering the field without hunter orange. The caller also thought that the hunter’s blind might be inside of his safety zone. The CO checked the area and located the blind and encountered one of the hunters. The hunter was wearing a reversible jacket, and the orange was not showing while the hunter was hunting. The CO questioned the suspect about the whereabouts of the other hunter. He stated that it was his brother, and he didn’t know where he was hunting at. The CO cited the hunter for failing to wear hunter orange.

• CO Joseph Deppen was on marine patrol on Lake St. Clair checking for waterfowl hunting activity when he received a complaint of people hunting in a waterfowl refuge. CO Deppen responded to the location and observed the hunters shoot two ducks. They were stopped on the water and advised of being in the refuge. All hunters were given verbal warnings for hunting in a waterfowl refuge. One hunter was cited for hunting waterfowl without a waterfowl license and another hunter was cited for having a loaded firearm in a motorized boat.

• CO Brandon Hartleben had just cleared the main entrance to Chelsea SGA and was traveling westbound on Dexter-Chelsea Road when he observed a subject in camouflage walking down the shoulder of the road with a firearm. A check of the subject and his license revealed that he was a licensed deer hunter; he just was not wearing any hunter orange. A citation was issued to the subject for failing to wear hunter orange while afield.

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