It's a sign of the times.
A 20-year-old Ham Lake man faces nearly $2,000 in fines and restitution for recently poaching two bucks and shooting an over-limit of Canada geese -- and then posting his exploits on his Facebook page.
"It was definitely not smart,'' said Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Travis Muyres, who handled the case.
Here's what happened:
The hunter posted a photo on Facebook of a small buck he killed in September during the archery season, then posted a photo of an 8-point trophy buck he arrowed in October. In Minnesota, hunters can kill only one buck per season. He later posted a photo of him and two buddies posing with 12 Canada geese they shot.
"In the caption, he wrote it was a 'three-man limit of geese,' " Muyres said. But the daily bag limit is three geese apiece, meaning they were three over their limit.
Someone spotted the postings and called the Turn In Poachers (TIP) line. Muyres confronted the men with their own evidence.
"They admitted everything,'' he said. "It makes it easy when you have all the photos.''
The bow hunter will lose his bow and both deer. He faces $1,000 restitution for the trophy deer, which scored 130 points, and faces charges for failing to tag the first deer, shooting an over-limit of deer and shooting an over-limit of geese. Fines could total around $800.
And it could have been much worse: He took the trophy deer to a taxidermist in Wisconsin, meaning he violated the federal Lacey Act by transporting illegally taken game across state lines, said Muyres. Officials could have seized the vehicle he used to transport the deer.
Meanwhile, his two friends will be cited for shooting an over-limit of geese.
Deer harvest strong
Hunters registered 101,000 whitetails in the first three days of Minnesota's firearms season and are well on their way to harvesting an estimated 200,000 deer for the season.
The harvest was up from 96,000 for the same period last year, but that likely is because it's easier to register deer this year, officials said. Hunters now can register their deer by phone or Internet, and about 50 percent of them are doing so.
Zach Adams, 36, of Maple Grove was hunting with his family and friends in western Minnesota on opening weekend when he kicked up a big buck during a drive. He fired twice and missed, then steadied himself and took a third shot. The deer flipped end over end, and Adams figured he had his deer. But the whitetail jumped up and ran off into the woods. Later, searching for a blood trail, he found the right antler from the deer; his shot had taken it off. The next day, the now one-antlered buck showed itself again. And Adams didn't miss.
It happens occasionally in Minnesota: A trapper accidentally catches a protected wolf and must release it.
That's what occurred recently near Rochester, where wolves are rarely seen. In this case (as in most others) the trapper called DNR conservation officers to help release the wolf.
Which begs the question: How does one do that without getting chomped on?
"They're actually pretty easy to get out of a trap," said Dan Stark, DNR wolf specialist. "Domestic dogs are harder to get out than a wild wolf. I've experience feral dogs that were much more aggressive, snapping and biting."
Stark said first a rope-like device is put over its neck to restrain it, then a blanket is placed over its head. "Once they are restricted, they kind of submit; it's their behavior," he said. "You can hold them down and remove the trap."
That's how officers Dan McBroom and Dean Olson released the wolf caught in a leg-hold trap near Rochester.
"It was pretty docile after we put the blanket over it," said McBroom. "It worked very well."
Stark said wolves occasionally show up in southern Minnesota, though he doubts any packs live there. The closest known wolf packs are near Fort McCoy, Wis., about 80 miles east of Rochester, where this animal likely came from, he said.
Did you know?
• A deer camp in the Foothills State Forest near Pequot Lakes burned to the ground either because of negligence with a fire or an electrical short, reported officer Chad Sherack. He said hunters lost their tents, heaters, guns, computers, coolers, deer and more. Neighboring deer hunters spotted it and put the blaze out before it spread.
• Baiting deer was again a problem in some areas, though officials said the number of cases might be down. Near Tower, three hunters in a camp faced losing their guns and paying over $2,500 in fines and restitution for baiting. Numerous hunters were cited near Virginia and Ely, too, and firearms were seized. "If you don't want to lose Grandpa's family heirloom rifle, don't use bait,'' said officer Marty Stage of Ely.
• Near Aurora, a man was charged with hunter harassment after he blasted loud music through a speaker and fired a shotgun in the air at his rural home to scare deer away from nearby hunters.
Doug Smith • firstname.lastname@example.org