When a Riley Township saw a truly impressive buck walk out in front of him last November, he took the shot of a lifetime and harvested the animal. The only problem was, the hunter had already bagged his limit of two for the season, and when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources found out about the third, they weren't too happy.
According to the Port Huron Times Herald, Scott Malinowski, 38, pled Wednesday Jan. 14 to a misdemeanor violation of the state's conservation laws. The crime? The St. Clair County resident harvested his monster buck as his third antlered deer of the season when the limit is two.
"He had the legal right to be out in the woods," Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Ken Kovach told the Times Herald. "The deer came out in front of him and it was just opportunistic."
Kovach explained that he was tipped off that a man had taken his third deer on Nov. 15 of last year and was bringing it to the Richmond buck pole. On arrival, the game warden confronted Malinowski, buck in hand, who admitted to it.
The fine imposed by the court last week was a whopping $15,150, which Malinowski paid in lieu of a 90-day suspended sentence in the county jail.
Michigan's New Anti-Poaching laws
In 2013, state Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes, introduced legislation, SB 171, that took aim at poaching in the state. In short, it took the standard 1994 law and greatly upped the fines for animals that were illegally harvested. It set the penalty for beer, elk, hawk, and moose at $1500 per animal; deer, turkey, and owl at $1,000, and everything else between $100-$500. Besides this, poachers convicted would have their license suspended for two calendar years on their first offense.
On top of the flat fine, for an antlered white-tailed deer with at least 8 but not more than 10 points, an additional $500.00 for each point is assessed. But wait, it gets better. For an antlered white-tailed deer with 11 or more points, $750.00 for each point is tacked on. The law defines a "point" as a projection on the antler of that is at least 1 inch long as measured from its tip to the nearest edge of the antler beam.
So by that math, shoot an 18-point buck in Michigan out of season and you risk $1000 for the deer itself, then another $13,500 ($750x18) for a total of $14,500. But wait, there is more! When you add any additional fines plus court costs, etc. and you are looking at $15,150 give or take. Oh yeah, plus the loss of hunting rights for two years.
The bill passed the state legislature by wide margin and went to Gov. Snyder (R) who signed it November 26, 2013. It took effect 90-days later on Feb. 25, 2014 as Public Act 175.2013.
"As men, women, and youth head out to the woods for firearm deer season tomorrow, we are excited that we now have a restitution system for white tail deer that might properly deter poachers from taking trophy bucks," Kent Wood of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said at the time of its passing. "Each time a poacher takes a large buck, that is one less opportunity for a Michigan hunter to have that exciting experience.
Its just not worth it guys.