Friday, November 21, 2012, PORTAGE – Back from the Yoop. Spent a week in trucks with COs, the usual paroxysms of weirdness in the backwoods and some weather not conducive to deer-killing. Days in the 50s made if easy for hunters to sit on stands all days, which many did – with results. Obviously I am leaving out a lot of juicy details and referring to offenses only in general terms because adjudications have not yet taken place.
We saw deer hanging in most camps and when I crossed the bridge south on Weds morning, the deer count was down about 50 animals from the far west of the UP. Number of hunters seemed down, but there is no way to measure. Wisconsin’s season opened two day’s after Michigan’s so we had some Cheezies in the cedar swamps for a couple of days. I’ll hit the highlights day by day and keep this short and hen post a photo piece on CO Dave Painter rescuing an immature bald eagle from a coyote trap.
DAY 1: NOVEMBER 14
Snow spit a bit briefly during the day but an otherwise mild day. Checked the south county for a load of outlaws who usually operate there, but they didn’t appear to be there. Spent our time investigating complaints (mostly trespasses) and had dinner with retired warden and his wife.
DAY 2: NOVEMBER 15
Firearm opener, visited some “fellas” out on the Panola Plains. Day before they had disrupted a hunter setting up for a teenager and driven off another. Said we’ve hunted here 25 years and we’re not making room. The notion of first-come first serve on Public land was explained. Later in the week we heard they were back to their original obnoxious ways. They’ll probably geta visit next week. Large group of guys from various Detroit suburbs. We spend all afternoon helping a county deputy with a case of larceny. Some young men came up from Milwaukee and set up blinds including one for a fried arriving late last night. When they took him to his blind this morning, it, his heater and trail camera were all gone. The deputy tracked to a guy on s stand who denied knowing anything, but the deputy suspected he was lying and we went to the man’s camp where we met a relative, who claimed to know nothing. Long story short. The original contact got pissed off because Milwaukee boys set up in “his” spot (CFA Land) and so he took all their gear, he took it back to his relative’s camp and hid it. As it turned out had we arrived 30 seconds earlier we would have caught the perp’s brother carrying the stolen heater out to his blind. In any event the perp was charged and taken to jail in tears and we later heard from other camps how this same guy would shoot deer on their property and when challenged he would blurt, say “Your land, our land, what’s the diff?” The accused is from the Iron Mountain area. The property was recovered and returned to the Milwaukee hunters. Afternoon we got a call from our county partner to go to an address in Iron Riverto confiscate a deer. Out of state hunter shot two deer and got his hunting partner from Michigan to tag one of them. We took the deer, as requested. Our partner also got another deer from a hunter not operating within the law.
DAY 3, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 16
Diff partner today, and we got called immediately down to an area along the Brule River where road-hunters were operating and we checked in with hunters who saw the three men shoot and got a truck description and wsent looking for them, to no avail. From there we headed west to meet Steve Drake and Randi Brown of the USFS. They had found a Pat all covered with Frost on the side of a toad and picked it up. Looked like shotgun pellets had perforated the wing, so they passed it to us and we passed it to a rehabber where I got a chance to meet Lois Bono’s pet porcupine, “Wilbur.” The porky loves to play with stuff animals and has a personality surprisingly close to that of a sedentary dog. Lois took the bird. We got a complaint of a road-shooter in southwest Iron County and rolled as reports came in from witnesses who saw shooters knock down two deer on private property, from a road, property where they had no permission to hunt. An Iron River cop pulled over the vehicle a minute before we arrived and then our patner went and picked up the wintnesses and drove by so they could ID the vehicle and show where the deer had been shot. Long story short: Probably shot from the vehicle, but no way to prove this. Both deer were confiscated. Neither tagged nor gutted,taken on private land without permission and transport loaded gun. Why aren’t the deer gutted?” we asked. “Wanted to take back tgo camp tgo let young kids learn how to do it. Really? Theyt lied with straight faces, three guys from Detroit suburbs. Someone told tghem they could go to the UP and drive around shooting deer. Not. We loaded the deer into our partner’s truck (we were hauling an ORV) and headed north toward another complaint while he got a call with yet another and rolled to it where he got led to two deer shot, gutted and hung in the swamp, the bodies covered in pine boughs, both animals untagged. The hunters helped him drag both out of the woods to his truck and gave him some descriptions of shooters, hunting in camo, no orange. He called us and we joined him in a hunt for the offending camp, but found they had pulled out that afternoon. We stomped around the woods, found some over -baited blinds, etc and repaired for the night, to continue investigation next day, but my partner stopped at a camp where we checked three deer and that these hunters had encountered trouble with the same group our partner was looking for. This hunter said he had the man’s name at home and would send it to us.
DAY 4, SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Foggy, drizzly morning. We were headed north on a complaint when we got a call of an erratic driver on US-41 near Amasa and jumped in to help a deputy. We got the vehicle pulled over. Female driver acted goofy, asked if she was in Wisconsin, couldn’t remember how she got to Michigan. Plates came back to a different vehicle than what they were affixed to. Woman had all kids of Rx drugs in her purse, all of which she said were her husband’s but her name was on them and she had one bottle with no ID on it, which is illegal. That drug, thanks to a drug ID ap showe3d a powerful opioid. The other prescr4iptions: hydrocodone-acetaminophen 500 mg; amphetamine 300 mg; methadone HCL 10 mg; alprazolam, 1 Mg (Xanax), and oxycodone 30 mg. Turned out she had revoked license and gave her name as Crystal Ball. Also turned out she had been declared a habitual criminal by one of the southern states. The deputy took her to the hospital for a blood test and we went on our way.
We soon got a complaint of an road-shooter a few miles from my partner’s house in west Iron County and we rolled as reports came in from witnesses who saw shooters knock down two deer on private property, from a road, property where they had no permission to hunt. An Iron River cop pulled over the vehicle a minute before we arrived and then our partner went and picked up the witnesses and drove by so they could ID the vehicle and show where the deer had been shot. Long story short: Probably shot from the vehicle, but no way to prove this. Both deer were confiscated. Neither tagged nor gutted, taken on private land without permission and transport loaded gun. Why aren’t the deer gutted?” we asked. “Wanted to take back to camp to let young kids learn how to do it. Really? They lied with straight faces, three guys from Detroit suburbs. Someone told them they could go to the UP and drive around shooting deer. Not. We loaded the deer into our partner’s truck (we were hauling an ORV) and headed north toward another complaint while he got a call with yet another and rolled to it where he got led to two deer shot, gutted and hung in the swamp, the bodies covered in pine boughs, both animals untagged. The hunters helped him drag both out of the woods to his truck and gave him some descriptions of shooters, hunting in camo, and no orange. He called us and we joined him in a hunt for the offending camp, but found they had pulled out that afternoon. We stomped around the woods, found some over -baited blinds, etc and repaired for the night, to continue investigation next day, but my partner stopped at a camp where we checked three deer and that these hunters had encountered trouble with the same group our partner was looking for. This hunter said he had the man’s name at home and would send it to us.
DAY 5, SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Met briefly with out other CO after we got a request to deliver something to another CO up in the north county, so we headed that way and made the delivery, then checked in with the acting sergeant for the north area and three COs and headed west past Sidnaw to the Kaisick Holes in extreme South Houghton County. There was a tent camp there, which we sat on till after dark and then checked the guys coming back, everything legal and copacetic, the guys all from Ironwood. Been hunting out of a tent camp in same location for 25 years, had not seen a CO in 20 years. Last CO in warned them they needed to sear helmets when riding their three-wheelers, so an old Yooper got a metal pan, drilled holes in it, attached a leather strap and when he rode by the CO the officer laughed and waved him on.
We visited the CO’s uncle’s camp after this, had dinner and moved on to covered complaints back in the south county. My partner said he had logged 1,000 miles in five days. Stopped a couple of slow rollers, but no loaded weapons. Then came a report of two deer, heads cut off, bodies pitched on private property and we went looking and eventually found the deer, which appeared to have been shot several days before, but we also talked to someone who had heard night shooters at 0230 am the next night and we went looking and set up surveillance to no end.
DAY 6, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19
Went to courthouse to drop tickets with the magistrate, and stopped at sheriff’s office where Undersheriff Tom Courchaine was and chatted with him and Deputy Lenny Brezek. Tom as captain in the DNR before he retired, and was a major reason I was able to get involved so closely with the DNR. My partner and I then got word of yet another deer found gutted and hung in the woods, and headed that way, but spun our wheels in the mud all afternoon: the camp we were looking for had changed ownership and by the time we made contact with hunters from that camp they said a hunter leaving a neighboring camp had found a four-pointer on his property and they had gone looking for it but were unable to locate it. The deer was probably wounded by a hunted and died on the property. It was un-gutted, untagged and allegedly lying in the open on a pine plain.
From there we proceeded south to where we saw one flash of a light in the woods behind locked gates, and after sitting on both gates hoping to intercept shiners, we ran out of hours and had to head for the barn.
DAY 7, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Back with my first partner. We got called out to the Way Dam area on the Michigammee Reservoir, where a bald eagle was caught in a coyote trap. My partner released the bird, but it was too hurt to fly, so we took it back to Crystal Falls, with me driving, and my partner holding the 3-4 year-old eagle; we called the raptor rehabber from Gladstone, put the bird in a big dog crate and the rehabber came over to get the bird that afternoon, while we headed back on patrol . Turns out the out-of-stater who had a Michigan guy tag his two deer for him pled not guilty at the court. Step one when that happens, SOP is for the sheriff to run a criminal record history and voila, our boy had served time in a southern lockup and as a felon was not allowed to own or be in the possession or presence of weapons.. Our partner sent us to grab the second deer while he went to find the miscreant, whom he located in his blind ad the man admitted to having shot four deer illegally and to having 8-10 firearms in his house, which were confiscated along with the deer.
We ended the night a a closed gate property owned by a logging company, same place where another CO and I had chased night shooters some years back. This time we found a 4-wheeler trailer and t trail around the gate. We moved inside, locked the gate, blocked the trail and awaited the hunter’s return. They were ticketed for failure to register their four wheeler in Michigan.
WEDSNSDAY, NOVEMBER 21.
Heavy fog. It took almost 3 full hours to get to Escanaba, and I saw only one dder, but a live coon and a live bobcat, which just looked at me and walked on. In places visbee was about six feet. I saw only four vehicles between Crystal Fall and the outskirts of Escanaba. Ten and a half hours to get home to Jambe Longue. Next blog – tomorrow — I’ll post video history of the eagle rescue/capture. Hope everyone had a great Turkey day. We have a little snow today, emp in high 20s, snow on decvk. Close to 60 and sunny yesterday. Ah My Michigan! Over.