Dave's Warden Report, Vol 11

"THE ANGRY BAITER"

On November 2, 2001, I (retired warden Dave Sabrowsky) received a phone call from Warden Supervisor Kevin Mickelberg (Milwaukee area) concerning an incident that occurred in Langlade County on October 25, 2001. Kevin stated that he had been contacted by some hunters from the Milwaukee area who had been in Langlade County for the T-Zone hunt but unfortunately they had a bad experience with one of the local residents. Kevin briefly described the incident and then said he didn't know if there was anything I could do about it but he had promised the complainants he would call me. I assured Kevin that we could do something.

Below is the letter the complainants wrote. As always, the names have been changed.

Last week I went up north hunting in area 42 with my fourteen-year-old son (Brian), my hunting partner, (Tim Kless) and his thirteen-year-old son Ken. We stay on private land but hunt mostly public lands. Tim is a Lieutenant with the Milwaukee Fire Department and I am a Heavy Equipment Operator for the Milwaukee Fire Department and we are both avid outdoorsmen that respect the law and follow the law. We have been hunting together in area 42 for many years now and know the public lands well. We own current plat books, aerial photographs and know many local residents. Our incident occurred on the southwest corner of H and R&H Road in Langlade County. The front forty on R&H is public from Highway H to County Line Rd.

About 1030 hours on Thursday October 25, 2001, my son and I entered the public lands with portable ladder stands to find a spot for that evening hunt. As we walked in a hundred yards Tim and his son were confronted by a younger (20's), heavy set man driving an older reddish Ford 150 pick-up truck. License Plate WI 123-456. (I also talked to some local residents we know up there that know this guy and they said he is unpleasant to say the least). He asked Tim what we were doing and Tim told him we were going to hunt that evening there and were going to set up stands. The guy says he has bait piles in there and to stay away from them. Tim says ok. Then the guy squeals his tires and drives away. Twenty minutes later Brian and I have found a spot for Brian to hunt and are preparing his stand. A shot is fired that is just to the east of us. It is very close so I figure another hunter is nearby. A second shot is fired ten seconds later and I hear the bullet go over our heads. I became nervous as I heard no deer and hear someone cursing "mother fucker this and mother fucking that". A third shot goes over our heads and my son asks me what is going on and now I become worried for my sons safety. At this point I see this guy storming through the woods still cursing and as he sees us he looks over and fires three shots from a semi-automatic rifle into the air. He removes a clip, reloads, and then does it again in an aggressive matter. At this point I had a serious fear for the life of my son. I felt he was in great danger from this lunatic and I swear to God that if I would have had my rifle I would have no recourse but to shoot back at him. I warned my partner he was coming his way via hand held radio and Jim left the woods with his son. The guy fired a few more shots (single shots) and made his way to the road and back to his truck which was parked on highway H about fifty yards from the corner. As I met up with Tim on the road we were all in disbelief of what had just happened. I could see that Tim's son was as nervous as my son about this guy. Then the truck comes flying down the road as he stares us down and drives by. He slams on the brakes and skids after he has gone fifty yards past us. He turns around and drives up to us and skids to a stop. He has his gun inside the cab of his truck in between him and us. Then his comment is "bet you'll find another place to hunt now". Jim says this is county land his reply is he has bait piles in there and he didn't put them there so people from the city can come up and shoot his deer. I made a comment about how a couple of bait piles is not justification for him to claim those 160 acres as his and he said something like we'll just see who hunts here. Then he sped away. Obviously we left as I did not want to ruin a precious weekend hunting with my son but I do plan on hunting there again this year by myself and I will not be threatened on public land by this individual again.

I have thought long and hard about what almost happened to me. My son could have been killed, I could have been killed, Tim or Ken could have been killed or I might have had to live with killing him on my conscience. The whole thing is very disturbing. I have decided that the Department of Natural Resources will take a serious look into this matter and I am confident the DNR will take the appropriate action. I willing to come into any DNR office with my son, my hunting partner, and his son to address this problem further and swear to my statements I have made today.

On November 4, 2001 I interviewed the suspect at his residence and although he never admitted to intentionally harassing the Milwaukee hunters he did acknowledge that he had a confrontation and shooting several shots into the air "just to let other hunters know that he was in the area". The subject was charged and convicted of hunter harassment and criminal disorderly conduct. All DNR privileges were revoked for three years.

There have always been hunter conflicts over hunting spots on public property but never to the degree and intensity that we now see since baiting became popular. When checking back through my records I discovered that all the hunter harassment citations I wrote involved baiting. Hunters just get more territorial when baiting and have a tendency to defend that territory like a sow protecting her young. Look at a couple of the statements the defendant made. "The guy says he has bait piles in there and to stay away from them". Tim says this is county land and his reply is " he has bait piles in there and he didn't put them there so people from the city can come up and shoot "HIS" deer. This is a baiters mentality.

These hunters were willing to come forward with their complaint but many hunters just walk away and do nothing about it. Many good hunters are just walking away from the sport.

Not all baiters violate but all violators bait.



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