MI; Michigan man banned from hunting for life after poaching 9 trophy bucks



A Michigan man received prison time, a large fine and a lifetime ban from hunting in Michigan after he poached nine trophy bucks.

Justin Ernst, of Decatur, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of illegal taking/possessing of whitetail deer, one count of obtaining a hunting license when ineligible and one felony count for possession of a firearm, said the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The 33-year-old was sentenced to serve 18 months to five years in prison. In addition, he was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and received a lifetime loss of hunting privileges.

“We’re satisfied that this criminal will be imprisoned for robbing ethical hunters, damaging crops and endangering others by recklessly driving through fields and shooting deer at night,” said David Shaw, assistant chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. “We hope this serious sentence serves its intended purpose and are grateful for the strong message rendered by the 36th Circuit Court.”

On Oct. 17, 2021, Michigan State Police were investigating a domestic violence complaint involving Ernst, officials said. Troopers contacted conservation officers after they saw several deer in a nearby barn that Ernst frequented. Conservation officers then seized eight illegal bucks from the barn, including five 10-pointers and three eight-pointers.

Two days later, officials said they received an anonymous tip stating Ernst had taken another deer. Conservation officers later confirmed Ernst had indeed poached his ninth trophy buck.

Ernst was previously convicted in 2018 for illegally taking or possessing whitetail deer, department officials said.


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