OR: Oregon man hit with 23 counts related to illegal hunting activities in Lee, Ogle counties

Oregon man hit with 23 counts related to illegal hunting activities in Lee, Ogle counties

02/24/2024

An Oregon bowhunter is facing multiple charges of poaching whitetail deer in Lee and Ogle counties, including one case in which Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police accuse him of illegally taking six deer from Lowell Park, a Dixon city park and nature preserve that is off-limits to hunters.

Brandon Scott Miller, 30, was indicted Feb. 16 in Lee County court on a charge of unlawful use of game, which is punishable by two to five years in prison.

However, because of a previous felony burglary conviction in Ogle County within the last 10 years, Miller is eligible for an enhanced sentence of two to 10 years.

Brandon S. Miller (Provided by Ogle County jail)

According to the indictment, Miller “knowingly possessed any animal part or parts, namely, 6 whitetail deer, a species that is protected under the Illinois Wildlife Code, having a value greater than $3,000 …”

Per statute, the value is $1,000 per whitetail deer, plus $500 per point for antlered deer up to 10 points, and $750 per point for 11 points or more.

In this case, Miller is accused of taking four does and two bucks, one with an eight-point rack and one with an 11-point rack, for a total value of $18,250.

If convicted, he will be required to pay that sum in mandatory restitution to the IDNR, plus court fines and fees.

The indictment also includes one count of unlawful use of game-multiple violations, which accuses Miller of knowingly violating the statue multiple times.

The animals were taken on six occasions, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 14, conservation police say.

That charge carries one to three years, but because of the burglary conviction, he faces an enhanced sentence of one to six years if convicted.

His initial hearing is March 20.

A trio of deer peek out from the woods at Lowell Park in Dixon on a sunny but chilly morning in this photo from Sauk Valley Media’s archives. (Alex T)

According to the Conservation Police field report:

Miller was interviewed on Oct. 17, 2023, by officer Randy Leannah about multiple deer takings between Sept. 27 and Oct. 4. Miller initially said he took five, Leannah learned of the sixth during the interview.

During the interview, Miller said he shot does on Sept. 27, Oct. 3, Oct. 4 and Oct. 8, the 11-point buck on Oct. 10 and the eight-point buck on Oct. 14, all with a crossbow.

The penalty is $1,000 for each doe, $5,000 for the eight-point buck and $9,250 for the 11-point buck.

He lied to Leannah about where he took the last three, and also falsified his harvest reports by claiming it was on private land, but then provided Leannah with cellphone pictures of all six killings, the report said.

They were date- and time-stamped and provided the geolocation where each photo was taken, which showed all were taken in Lowell Park.

When asked if he knew hunting was illegal there, he said “No, I didn’t read the sign,” adding that he is dyslexic. He also admitted to climbing an eight-foot fence to get into the park, and to knowing that hunting season didn’t begin until Oct. 1, “… but I couldn’t wait,” he told Leannah.

Miller also failed to affix permit tags to at least four of the deer, according to the report, which also includes photos of him holding the dead bucks by their racks and dressing a doe.

In addition to the two felony counts in Lee County, Miller is charged with three more felony counts and 18 misdemeanor counts in Ogle, court records show.

He was charged Dec. 29 with two counts of unlawful use of game, and faces the extended term of two to 10 years in prison, plus mandatory restitution, and another unlawful use of game-multiple violation, for which he also is eligible for the extended sentence of one to six years.

According to the charging documents, on Dec. 8 and 15, Miller had two whitetail deer heads each day, and both times they were worth more than $3,000. On Dec. 4, he possessed a whitetail worth less than $3,000.

He has hired attorney Eric Morrow, and has a a pretrial hearing April 22 in that and the following misdemeanor cases:

Miller was cited Oct. 3 at Mix and Monroe streets in Oregon with unlawful taking of a whitetail and transporting an uncased bow, and Dec. 14 with using the hunting license of another, unlawful taking or possessing deer, and a deer hunting permit violation.

According to the Conservation Police citations, the last three violations happened Oct. 29 in Lowden Miller State Forest in Oregon.

Most recently, Miller was charged Jan. 22 with 11 misdemeanors – two counts of unlawful taking or possessing deer, two deer hunting permit violations, wasting usable meat, unlawful possession of animal parts, taking animals along a highway, unlawful transportation of a weapon (an uncased bow), harassing an animal with his vehicle lights, hunting within 300 yards of an inhabited dwelling and hunting at night.

According to the citations, the 11 violations took place the morning of Dec. 17 at Lost Lake in Dixon.

He was charged in a separate case that same day with trespassing and littering from a vehicle. According to the citations, Miller was at Lost Nation park after the owner told him he could not be there, and he also threw beer cans out his vehicle window.

All of the violations in both counties took place while Miller was on probation in the Ogle County burglary case, court records show.

On Jan. 4, 11 and 13, 2022, Miller entered one building twice and then a trailer at the Lake LaDonna campground in Oregon, intending to steal something.

He was charged that Jan. 31 with three counts of burglary, for which he could have gotten three to seven years on each of two charges and two to five on the third.

He pleaded guilty on July 15, 2022, to one count that was punishable by three to seven years, and was sentenced to three years’ probation. The other two counts were dismissed per a plea agreement.

On Feb. 16, in the wake of the Ogle County game charges, a probation violation report was filed with the court, which means he could be resentenced and imprisoned for the burglary.

A petition to revoke his probation had not been filed as of Friday, Feb. 23.

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