Dave's Warden Report, Vol 13

"The Deer Farmer"

In story #12 I talked about an individual that we cited for shooting two bucks with the bow and having his wife and daughter tag the deer but we never caught him for everything we suspected he was doing.

I would like to share a story about another baiter that we did not catch but required a significant amount of time to investigate. Again, since I retired I also retired most of my reports so I will only be guessing about the exact date and time of this incident.

During March of the last real hard winter we had, (if memory serves me right it was 1995) I received a complaint from two Langlade County Sheriff's Deputies who had just been to Tim Daelies deer farm. I donít remember why the Deputies had been to the property but they came right out and said that no good #~*! was trapping deer. They explained to me that Tim had built a pen next to his deer farm fence and was sitting in his cabin, baiting deer into the pen, and then closing the door when the deer were inside.

Timís deer farm was one of those places that was just very difficult for me to monitor without letting everyone know I was in the area. The best plan I could come up with was to park approximately 1 mile to the east on some county land and then snowshoe through a cedar/spruce swamp until I neared the deer farm. I assumed I would find some heavy deer trails the closer I got to the baited area and then I could remove my snowshoes and walk the trails to the site.

I assumed the best time to investigate the complaint and not encounter the suspect would be in the forenoon so the next morning I hid my truck east of the suspectís property and snow-shoed across country. When I got within 200 yards of the deer farm I did find a well-worn deer trail in the snow so I removed my snowshoes and walked the trail to the suspect cabin. The deputies were right. Tim was apparently trying to lure deer with bait and trap them.

Tim had built a cabin along the north fence of his deer farm. Approximately 25 feet from the cabin to the east side an 8-foot high cyclone fence enclosure had been added. This enclosure or pen measured approximately 20 feet by 40 feet. A large 10-foot door was located on the north end of the pen and was open towards the inside with a rope attached to the door. The rope led from the door along the ground and disappeared into the cabin through a hole in the wall. If someone was inside the cabin and pulled on the rope the door would close. Bait of corn and apples had been spread inside the pen. The pen was connected to the deer farm fence. Another large door was located at the south end of the pen, which opened into the deer farm. I had to come to the same conclusion as the deputies. Tim was set up to lure wild deer into his pen and then release them into his deer farm.

I looked the area over for deer sign but nothing looked fresh. This was late in March and we were experiencing warm weather every day. I wasnít sure if deer were still coming but decided to monitor the deer farm for a few days at least. I retreated for the day but returned every day for the next five days.

Nothing happened. I did not see anyone visit the cabin. I never spooked deer when I hiked into my hiding spot (which was underneath the branches of a large spruce tree downwind of the bait), and I never saw a deer come to the bait. It appeared the deer were dispersing naturally as they always do during spring breakup or Tim had trapped them all.

On the 6th day, I was relaxed under the spruce, reading a book, when I looked up, and there was my suspect. I never heard him drive in but there he was, inspecting the ground inside and outside the pen. He walked around for a few minutes, checking trails, and then disappeared behind the cabin. This time I heard him drive off. I left. The trapping season was apparently over.

I really had hoped to catch him in the act but knew that he was in all probability through for the year. I wasnít sure how I should proceed for the next year. Did we have any authority that covered the enclosure? Could we make sure the outer door was never opened? Should I just approach Tim? Before I could research or answer any of those questions Tim sold the deer farm. It has since been sold again. Ironically, the individual who bought the 90 acre deer farm from Tim also came to the same conclusion that all of us had. The enclosure was for one purpose only and that was to trap wild deer.

There is only one reason this is possible and that is because Wisconsin allows baiting and feeding of deer. This deer farm owner is a huge supporter of deer feeding and baiting. There is a good reason for it. He profits from the sale of corn and apples and it is the preferred method of poaching for him and his family. This is the same family involved in story number one.

Not everyone who baits is a violator, but all violators bait.

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