A scheme to take home more deer than he was legally allowed has landed a Zimmerman, Minnesota, man on probation for two years – and a loss of his hunting privileges for three years.
According to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Michael Walz pleaded guilty last month to two counts of "transporting illegally taken big game" and two counts of using another person's big game hunting license to bag extra deer.
The charges stem from a 2014 incident in which a DNR conservation officer discovered Walz and his party in Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, where they were apparently standing over a freshly killed 6-point buck.
The officer determined the buck was untagged and illegally removed from the kill site, and asked Walz for his hunting license. Walz admitted to carrying several licenses, including those belonging to his father, his friend, and daughter, the release says.
The officer had apparently stumbled onto a scheme by one hunter to use the permits of several others to bag more deer than he had been allotted; Walz later admitted that none of the people whose licenses he said he was holding was with him when he illegally killed several deer.
Further, the DNR says, both he and his wife admitted to using borrowed tags to "pass the deer off as legally killed animals."
The risks of illegal hunting
A trip to Walz's home uncovered six shoulder-mounted deer heads and seven antlered wall plaques. Walz admitted he killed all 13 animals illegally in the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge or the Sand Dunes State Forest.
“This is an example of someone who is passionate about taking deer, but has lost appreciation of the animals hunted and respect of the laws protecting a resource that belongs to all citizens,” said DNR Enforcement Division Director Col. Ken Soring.
Walz had been facing a $3,000 fine and a year in jail, but the sentence was stayed in favor of probation, 8o hours of community service, and his having to write a public apology in Minnesota Outdoor News. He is also banned from entering the national refuge and the state forest where he hunted illegally.
Additionally, his Minnesota big game hunting privileges have been revoked for three years. That suspension could affect his ability to hunt in dozens of other states – Minnesota is part of a pact with 45 other states that makes some suspensions valid across borders.
The DNR also points out that Walz's legal fees are in excess of $3,000.