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  #1  
Old 09-09-2007, 09:48 PM
Ozzman is offline
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Default DNR, useless again? You be the judge!

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Kind of a long story as all this started last year, but figured since the DNR put themselves in this position, wanted to see what others thought or whether this has happened to others.

Every fall, several friends and I frequent a guided goose/duck hunt on private property in SE Washtenaw County. Well starting in the early 2006 goose season, going into the late Goose season in January 2007, my friends and I hunted at this location 4 times. Every single time we were there, we were paid a visit by one of four law enforcement agencies, Washtenaw Sheriff Dept, local Township Police, DNR and the State Police. One of the neighbors was complaining that we had “shot their house”. Well we (the guide & the hunters) know this to be a lie, due to the layout of the pit blinds. The closest blind to any dwelling marks out using a Leopold RX-1 range finder at 230 yards (690 ft). This exceeds the state minimum requirement of 150 yards (450 feet). We were not even shooting from the closest blind, plus the house making the phone calls (found out which residence it was last week) is over 600 yards from the closest pit blind!

This happened twice while I was there (2 times while friends were there) and every time I observed this, the officers walked out into the spread of decoy’s (pit blinds in a field) while we were hunting. Three separate flights of geese (20+ birds) veered off due to the officer’s visit costing us a shot. The geese had their landing gear locked and lowered for final approach. It did not ruin the day, but we could have had a chance to finish filling our limit on those flights. To say this was annoying is one thing, but after the late season was over, managed to talk with the guide and he indicated a “history” of such phone calls.

Started looking into the two laws that would apply, the Hunter Harassment Laws, and the Stalking Law in the state of Michigan. Funny thing is, you can’t have Stalking” in the legal definition without first having established “Harassment” is occurring! Second, the penalties for Hunter Harassment are roughly one half that of the Stalking Law. Not to mention that if you harass with phone calls under the Stalking Law, there are paragraphs defining this but none in the Hunter Harassment law. Therefore, I am a citizen, yet because I hunt, I receive one-half the protections if I am harassed while hunting!

Well, over the last 8 months, I have spoken to 3 senators, 2 Representatives, the Sheriff dept, the State Police dept, MUCC, the head of DNR Law enforcement , one of the DNR Lieutenant’s and the Washtenaw County Dispatch. The chances of changing the law are non-existent, trust me on this one! The bottom line is that using someone else to harass by using a state law enforcement agency, will not be prosecuted under the Hunter Harassment law in Michigan.

The best avenue recommended to prosecute and make the charge stick for this “phone call harassment” was to go after the person for making a “false police report”. If the people in charge will not prosecute under the “Hunter Harassment Law” then what use is the Hunter Harassment law?

First, unless you managed to file an immediate charge of harassment with the investigating officers who paid you a visit, you are pretty much screwed. If you try after the fact, you need to submit a “Freedom of Information Act” request with the main dispatch office. You try to establish that it is the same residence making the calls and that the residence making the calls is “within range” to have a valid complaint. The trick with the Freedom of information act, is that they will not reveal personal information (for obvious reasons) and unless you have specific times, or detailed specific requests, you will get a useless response.

I had not filed charges immediately, and the two tries at getting the Freedom of Information Act as evidence didn’t pan out either for lack of detailed time (within an hour, which officer responded, yada yada), so I failed to ask “the right question”.

I then tried to arrange having a law enforcement agency, in this case the DNR, to stop by and validate the ranges of the hunting location against a current PLAT map of the property. The intent was that with a law enforcement validation, a copy of the documentation would then be provided to all law enforcement departments in the area. When the idiot makes another false report, the law enforcement agency that responds would talk to them, rather than the hunters.

I had discussed this with Lt Jane Gordon, DNR Law Enforcement based at Roselawn, Lansing Michigan and she had agreed in principle to have the local DNR officer (probably Josh Winters) to stop by at the property to validate the ranges. Lt. Gordon asked that a week or two before the season started to call and make arrangements. I spoke with the property owner where we hunt and they agreed it would be a good thing to have a validated document for future issues as there is more and more development occurring in that neighborhood.

Well, since that time, there is a temporary head of DNR Law enforcement due to Alan Marbles forced retirement. When I called Lt Gordon two weeks ago, I come to find out the temporary supervisor has rescinded this offer of assistance. Done so based on the simple response, “If we do this (validation) for one person, we would have to do it for everyone”. I only wanted 10 minutes of time and a signature, but I guess that is just way too demanding a request to ask of the DNR!

Well, does the picture of smoke coming out of someone’s ears give a visual idea of how P.O’d I was! I do believe Lt Gordon understood how I felt at that time (no cussing or name calling trust me I was at work,) so she promised to call back. Guess what, haven’t heard from her yet. Being good friends with several V.P. ‘s in MUCC, I called in a few favors to see if pressure could be applied, but they gave me the same answer the law enforcement people did, pursue the making of false police reports.

Then to top this off, found out last week from the property owner where we hunt, that last season, the local DNR officer had first stopped by the residence of the person calling in the complaint. It seems, and this is the words of the property owner, that DNR officer Josh Winters told the person that he knew that there was no physical way shots hit the complainant’s house. Yet he still came out to visit the hunters in response to a “shots hitting the house” call last season.

In summary, I am not too happy with the DNR for lack of support and their not forcing the issue back to the person making the false phone calls. I went to the extra effort of trying to PREVENT HARASSMENT and the DNR doesnt want to help!Any suggestions on other avenues would be appreciated, legal ones anyway , LOL!

There doesnt appear to have been a complaint the other day (Labor Day, 2007) when we hunted there, but we had only two shots and maybe the "home owners who make the false reports" were out of town. I had my copy of a Hunter Harassment form ready to be filled out, along with my range finder, but no such luck. However since no one has stopped them from doing this yet, I expect it to happen again.

In addition, if others were themselves perplexed as to what the DNR did or didnt do, it would be great if others contacted Lt Jane Gordon, Roselawn division, and or DNR officer Josh Winters, to ask them why! Pretty sure both are listed in Michigan DNR Law Enforcement division contact page.

Ozzman
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  #2  
Old 09-09-2007, 10:01 PM
lang49 lang49 is offline
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I would submit a FOIA request every time you hunt the property requesting information regarding all calls of shot hitting houses during the time your were in the blind (regardless of whether or not you were visited by law enforcement during your hunt).

After a while, law enforcement will realize that it would require less of their time to deal with the problem than have to to deal with your FOIA requests.
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  #3  
Old 09-10-2007, 12:19 AM
micooner micooner is offline
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we had the same problem running our hounds on property we had permission to run on in same county..neighbor kept calling sheriff's after about 3 times i called central dispatch and alerted them to the fact we would be running there and please quit wasting taxpayers money...they don't like to keep running out for nothing...seems to work out ok ...also the dnr officer is josh wright..nice guy good officer....he says the calling of the cops doesnt constitute hunter harassment..is your guide J hopkins?? if it is how is he as a guide// thought about booking with him
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Old 09-10-2007, 02:35 AM
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boehr boehr is offline
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So after the long story, what I get out of it is that you are upset that a CO wouldn't come out and say how far you were from a house, is that correct? My question is, why do you need that? As long as you have permission and are outside the safety zone, which you obviously are since no tickets were issued for being within the safety zone, why? If the CO did, what good is that going to do?

Other than that your other reason is you don't like these people calling on you and getting checked by whatever LEO happens to come out because it is a bother to you.

Do you know if anyone else hunts in that area that may have hit the house before? Most people who have had this happen to are not going to run out and see who did it, they will call to have it checked out. After that any shots in close proximity scare people. Not saying that is the case here but also not saying that isn't the case.

Just because you feel you are being bothered doesn't automatically make it hunter harrassment. There are elements of the law that must be able to be proven or there is no violation.

This matter, which I can sympathize with you but, the DNR or any other law enforcement agency is not out there to be your private investigative agency.

Of course all these other agencies you have listed that has been there and the DNR won't come out a sign a piece of paper of a location where you said hunting was from but it's the DNR's fault. If you say so but I sure don't get it.
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Old 09-10-2007, 08:32 AM
jjc155 jjc155 is offline
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Next time this happens, ask the responding officer for a business card and a complaint number (one is generated for each dispatched call), then go pick up a copy of the police report (usually much cheaper then a FOIA request). The personal info (adress/phone number) of the complainant will be blacked out, but there name should still be in the report (internet magic makes the rest easy to find).

But the best info in the report will be the dispatched times (ie: when the call came in, when the officer was assigned the call, when they arrived and cleared) which will make ur FOIA request easier to fulfill if that is the route you want to go.

And just remember, the LEO's that are coming out are caught more in the middle that you are, thay HAVE to come when the call is placed, whether its the first time out there or the tenth, so cut them some slack.

Hope this helps,
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Old 09-10-2007, 08:53 AM
micooner micooner is offline
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This area in question has a lot of ANTI'S and is not hunter friendly at all. they don't like to hear gunshots, see people with guns walking across fields and so on. City people moved to the country thats what it is...
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:07 AM
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Mickey Finn Mickey Finn is offline
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Originally Posted by micooner View Post
This area in question has a lot of ANTI'S and is not hunter friendly at all. they don't like to hear gunshots, see people with guns walking across fields and so on. City people moved to the country thats what it is...
I agree with you. This may not fit the legal description of harrassement. But, odds are thats the callers intent. The guide should find a way to make friends with this caller (perhaps unlikely) or hunt else where.
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:13 AM
bullcan bullcan is offline
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Before you hunt call these agencies that come to check on you and let them know when and where you will be hunting and the history of phone calls, can't hurt.
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:14 AM
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It sounds like there are too many officers in that area. Send at least 2 to the NE lower, where they are needed. Good luck. Don't let the ding dongs get you down. Keep hunting there.
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:37 AM
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On second thought , try to get to know the co's a little . Make sure they know that you are not breaking any rules , maybe they can give you the benefit of the doubt at some point.

In my opinion , if someone says that you shot their house from that far away , the officer should have the homeowner show evidence before even coming over to you. If there is nothing , you should be left alone.

In case your shot is really traveling far, try to use one size smaller .(You should not have to do this, but maybe someone heard the pellets falling and freaked out .)

Good luck with the geese, ozzman. This stinks, I can only use 10 of the critters, I was going to try and use them all.
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:53 AM
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Mule Skinner Mule Skinner is offline
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From what you described , I believe I know where your talking about.

I worked at a couple of the different Correctional Facilities near US- 23 South and Bemis rd (Pittsfield Twsp). That is a great spot and I know they pound the ducks and geese there. I'm sure alot of the neighbors complain and you can't blame those different LE Agencies for responding. Most probally don't hunt and did not realize they flared birds as they walked out to speak with you.

As stated, the Guide/owner should contact Central Dispatch and let them know the location and that there will be shooting going on there through out the waterfowl season .

I know your upset about paying $ and having your hunt screwed up, but this just doesn't fall into the Hunter Harrassment Law

Good luck
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:45 AM
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Backwoods-Savage Backwoods-Savage is offline
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Also, if someone does call and an officer comes out, do not expect him or her to just go talk to the person who called. I believe it is their duty to check on the complaint; that is, if you are hunting and they called about shots, the officer should check on you too. Don't be upset with an officer just because he is doing what has to be done.

Early on reading the post I figured there was probably some anti-hunters making the calls. It would take time but enough complaints by them and they will hang themselves.

Good hunting.
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Old 09-10-2007, 11:55 AM
Ozzman Ozzman is offline
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Default All good advice

Thanks for the replies, all good if you are prepared. I wasnt last year so that is why I tried to get a verified document, signed by someone they couldnt refute in the court of law. That document could then be hung right in front of the dispatch operators and LEO stations. No phone calls every time, a simple one step that only needs to be given to the 5 offices once a year. That should be all we would ever have to do.

No, no anti is going to discourage me, I am simply to bull headed. I will get my chance at getting the law after the person making the calls, or convince one of my friends to do the same.

As for the LEO's, dont get me wrong as I know what they go through. I have too many friends that are LEO's and I have nothing but respect for those who continue play it square under trying circumstances. However, as in this instance, the LEO speaks with the person complaining and tells them he knows the hunters are legal, then doesnt ask for evidence of the supposed strike on the house. The LEO then visits/intrudes on the hunters for what reason? Is there something wrong here or is it just me?

While this does not fall under harassment in our Hunter Harassment law, this goes to show the problems/loopholes. To date, no one has proven that in the legal definition, that you can have Stalking without first having Harassment.

The laws and penalties for Hunter Harassment are one half of the Stalking Law and do not clearly cover the use of phone in harassment, and or second parties, much less a LEO. All of this clearly covered in the Stalking Laws, lol, but not the use of a LEO to do your harassment, LOL, thats the Stalking Law loophole!

Why is it that as a citizen, I am protected under the Stalking Laws. However, if I choose to hunt, I get one half the protection. Kind of like being a second class citizen, when in fact I am a citizen.

I would really love to hear the reasoning for a Hunter Harassment Law having 1/2 the protection of the Stalking law justified by one of its creators.

Ozzman
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Old 09-10-2007, 06:25 PM
Blue Mist Blue Mist is offline
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A signed document wouldn't be of much help anyway. An officer would have to be watching each and every shot you took to verify that you were in fact in the blind and outside of the safety zone when you shot. I had a deer hunter shoot from my from yard at a deer he had wounded earlier. His blind was outside of the safety zone but he followed the wounded deer and shot 40 yards from my house. We had a few words. The people filing the complaints may not understand that a shotgun with birdshot is harmless at the ranges you are at. All they see is someone pointing a gun in their direction. If they are truly afraid, you can't legally restrain them from making a report. If they make a false report, that is something else.

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Old 09-10-2007, 07:58 PM
Ozzman Ozzman is offline
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Default Understand your position, but........

Blue Mist

Good point, but a document such as I wanted, draws a line in the sand at a date and time that is hard to refute in the court of law. A trail of evidence or in this case, the proof of innocence has to start somewhere be it a preventive action like I wanted to try or after the incident occurs yet again.

After all this though, one undeniable fact exists. All houses outside the property line exceed the state requirement for a minimum shooting distance from a dwelling of 450 feet. If the LEO did observe we were hunting outside the blind, there is not one legal thing they can do about it.

Since no one hunting on this property has been charged with trespassing on the "antis" property in all this time, kinda speaks for itself.

The 450 ft minimum distance was established by someone who knows a little bit about shotshell ballistics I do believe. Like all safety requirements, there usually is a buffer added to any measurement or distance established.

At this point, no one has volunteered to provide the maximum distance pellets from a 12 gauge 3 1/2" T size shotshell can travel. Bigger shotguns, just mean more pellets in a charge when using goose loads, not much to do with distance. The newer high velocity loads have increased maximum effective range by nearly 10-20 yards to a total of 50-60 yards?

Would like to see if some one has a true ballistics table showing that such a shot from a 12 gauge, 3 1/2" shell with T shot can fly over 450 ft (150 yards) and reach much less damage a house. I believe the state would then be interested in changing the minimum distance required for hunting near a dwelling.

Good feedback though, makes a person think.

Ozzman
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