Despite the perks of the job, conservation officers have to deal with some real idiots sometimes.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources must shake it’s collective head every time one of their conservation officers comes back from a day in the field with a new story to tell. Despite a fairly successful deer hunting season, bizarre encounters with a select group of hunters are still popping up across the state.
When hunters choose to ignore the hunting regulations, that’s when conservation officers step in. So far this year, there have been several reports of shooting deer without tags, improper bait piles, and carrying uncased and loaded firearms in vehicles.
Every ethical and responsible hunter listens to these stories with disgust. But we need to get the word out as a sporting community. We will not tolerate these stupid decisions.
Here is a sample of the real notable ones from November and early December.
1. Drunk Passenger
Conservation officer Kevin Postma came across an eight-year-old driving a UTV with an adult passenger. He noticed an uncased firearm in the back and asked the adult to step out to discuss the situation. After stepping out, it was clear to the officer the adult was intoxicated at 10:45 AM. He then exchanged several more strong words with the adult, probably along the lines of, what are you thinking man?
2. Accidental Shooting
Conservation officers Brett Gustafson and Jon Busken assisted the Luce County Sheriff’s Department with an accidental shooting. A hunter had stepped out of their camp door with a loaded shotgun, and slipped on a ramp. The firearm discharged, lodging #6 birdshot pellets into the hunter’s left hand, abdomen, and chest. The other two chambered rounds were slugs. The hunter was allegedly intoxicated with alcohol and marijuana at the time. Charges against the hunter are pending.
3. Deer Decoy
Using a deer decoy, conservation officers Bobby Watson and Jon Busken, along with Sgt. Mike Hammill witnessed a hunter approach on an ORV. The hunter exited the vehicle with a loaded firearm and shot three times at the decoy, which was located on private property to which the hunter did not have permission to hunt. They also were not wearing hunter orange and did not have a valid deer license. What’s more, the hunter had been previously warned to stay off the property.
4. Sport Car Hunting
On Thanksgiving Day, conservation officer Josiah Killingbeck witnessed a sports car driving down a back road with the windows open in the rain. After pulling the car over for a traffic violation, the officer discovered a loaded and uncased weapon in the back seat. When the officer asked the individual why the weapon was wet, they responded that they had been hunting and quickly came back into the car when it rained to warm up. Unfortunately for them, their hunting clothes were completely dry. Charges were filed.
You’d think people would learn that they’re not going to escape justice. A sincere Thank You goes out to the conservation officers that risk their lives to keep us all safe from unethical hunters.