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UdeLakeTom

Aitkin Age Deer Baiting Article

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There is a very interesting article in this weeks Aitkin Age regarding deer baiting and interpretation of the law.

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Interesting read, it would seem the hunters didn't intend to bait but they should have been smart enough to remove the feeder all together.

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Judge to rule on deer baiting

Three men who hunt deer on their land in Aitkin County continue to fight charges of hunting over bait for which their guns were confiscated last fall by the DNR.

Mark Allaman, his son Jeff Allaman and his son-in-law Daniel Miller, appeared in Aitkin County District Court on June 9.

Judge John Solien conducted the pretrial hearing, where Ben Smith, assistant county attorney, represented the state and Erick Kaardal and James Magnuson of Mohrman and Kaardal, Minneapolis, represented the defendants.

The defense was asking for the charges to be dismissed, alleging entrapment by DNR officers and that the deer baiting statute is unconstitutional due to its vagueness.

It was conducted somewhat like a trial before the judge, with the defendants and state witness taking the stand.

Three DNR officers: Tom Provost, Brent Speldrich and Andy Schmidt were also present. Schmidt sat with the prosecuting attorney but only Speldrich testified.

Mark Allaman, Forest Lake, said he'd been hunting for 40 years in Aitkin County and has hunted deer on his land north of Big Sandy Lake on Hwy. 65 for about five years. Of their party, only his son's wife has taken a deer there.

It was clarified that the family does feed deer and other wildlife but they claim that they filled their wildlife feeder with a 50-lb bag of feed on Labor Day weekend and by early October, the automatic feed dispensing system they installed didn't work as the solar battery had leaked.The barrel that held the feed was rigged up on a pulley system between two trees with the automatic feed dispenser and its motor underneath. Family members said it dispensed about a half pound of feed per day.

He said they returned to the property on Oct. 24 to tighten the spinner plate in the dispenser so no feed would spill onto the ground.

Mark Allaman said that only hulls and husks were left on the ground.

He said that on deer hunting opener, Nov, 8, 2008, the three men took positions that were 800-2,000 feet from the feeder station and were shocked when they were arrested by the DNR and charged with hunting over bait and had their guns confiscated.

Allaman and the two other family members testified that they had no sight lines to the wildlife feeding station.

"What the DNR did was overzealous and they were wrong," said Mark. "We didn't have grain on the ground - just husks and chaff. For us to have to go through the hell we've gone through in the last six months is unjustified."

The two other family members also testified. All said they were law-abiding citizens and would not intentionally bait deer. They verified when they made trips to the property, that the battery quit working in early Oct. and they tightened the plate by Oct. 24 so no feed would spill on the ground - still falling into the 10-day window prior to the season opener when feeding would have to stop.

Jeff Allaman, Stacy, said: "We are not operators. We understand the laws and abide by the laws."

Daniel Miller, Ham Lake, said they were absolutely not baiting deer. "If we were baiting we'd have piles of corn there and all of us hunting near the feeder. We are good citizens. We never had a run-in with the DNR. We're not out to slaughter every deer that goes by."

The Allaman-Miller family has said the the DNR conservation officer caused feed to fall on the ground, thereby entrapping them.

Officer Speldrich testified. The three officers were kept sequestered from one another during testimony because their police report is being questioned by the defense.

Speldrich said that he has an eight-foot reach and that he was on their property on Oct. 20, Nov. 6 and Nov. 8.

He said that he "touched the feeder and kernels of feed came out of the feeder. I tipped it and you could see kernels of corn on what I'll call the spinner. No more than half dozen kernels fell on the ground."

While the defendants have claimed that Speldrich tipped over the feeder, he said he just touched the bottom, causing it to "swing a little," and the feed came off the spinner plate. He said "I was reaching up eight feet in the air and it swayed a few inches but it wasn't cocked to one side."

Solien denied the motion to dismiss the charges and said that Speldrich's actions on the property on Oct. 20: "Don't come close to meeting the rules of entrapment." He will rule on the constitutionality of the baiting statute within 90 days.

"While it's not the best statute I'm not going to say it's unconstitutional on its face," said Solien.

The defense said that the statute is vague and it could mean that any deer that ate feed anywhere on a 100-acre property and then was shot could cause the hunter to get charged with hunting over bait. They said DNR officers have too much latitude in interpreting the law.

Smith argued that it is the nature of criminal law that statutes have to be general enough to apply to everyone and specific enough to help determine when a crime is committed.

"That's why we have juries," said Smith.

"DNR violations in particular are particularly contentious to the violators," said Smith. Where DNR law is concerned, violators are often otherwise law-abiding people and not "evil people. The DNR is protecting the resources of Minnesota," he said.

The defendants said that they were offered a plea agreement to plead guilty and get their guns back but they would not accept it.

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My question is if the feeder is broke, why not remove it to fix it, why let it sit out for a over a month? Another thing, im thinking a little to indepth on this but why didnt he dnr to some moisture test on the corn, if the corn sat out for that long moisture would probably get to the corn

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This is a dumb law and it has more holes in it than swiss cheese.

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I think in this case its a little overzealous on the DNR, from both sides its not as if they 3 were all "what feeder? Oh there's a feeder? when did that get here?" If I read right, there wasn't a pile on ground and what there was came out when the device was moved. Flip side, maybe 30 min to an hour worth of work to get it out of the woods would have been smarter. Now I will contradict myself and say that the time they spent re-rigging would have been better used to just take it out of the woods.

Now I will go back to riding on both sides of the fence. Like it was once said "I was for it until I was against it"

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• An area is considered baited for 10 days after complete removal of

the bait or feed

Even if they had removed the feeder that morning or the day before, it would have mattered. They would have had to remove it at least 10 days in advance.

Just my opinion. It will be interesting what the judge rules.

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Interesting after reading this it seems very clear that they are GUILTY. I hope they are proven guilty otherwise its going to cause many more problems with people just playing STUPID when confronted by the DNR. It drives me crazy when people dont just stand up to there consequences of doing ilegal activity.

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Do you believe that they didn't dump the feeders on the 25th? I don't.

To be legal they would of had to have all feed removed from the ground on the 29th (28th?)

This thread got me thinking. If their is one time of the year that Minnesota deer do not need extra food is in September/October when crops and acorns are abundant. Food for Minnesota deer can get hard to come by in the late winter, but early Fall is a time of abundance.

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It was the hunters responsibility to REMOVE the feed source completely at least 10 days before the season, not just turn it off. The feed must be gone not just not adding more. Like Jameson said, no need to feed that time of year. There is plenty natural or ag around for feed. The scent of that corn still draws deer.

Seems their only Out is the distance they were hunting from the feed site depending on the line of sight.

We all need to remember, hunting is about the act of hunting, not shooting or filling tags, those are just the result, sometimes.

If hunters would develop skills honing their craft they wouldn't need extra help to get deer! Try archery to force learning some woodsmanship.

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If they would've just planted some corn, put a fence around it 'til a week before deer season, then taken down the fence....then they'd be both legal and ethical hunters!

PFFFFT!

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Guilty, like our new seat belt law, cop hits the lights, yanks ya, before that throw the belt on and he said she said. Yes plant the corn, cultivate it, fertilize it, etc. I'm not going to condemn them as bad people for life since lawyers,doctors, whatever break laws too or flex the rules to their own hopeful benefit.

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Busted! There are a couple things that stink about this.

-You do not have to see the feeder for it to help you kill animals. Just hunt the three main trails going to the feeder.

-If you make a special trip to tighten the spinner plate because you are worried about being accused of baiting you would remove it entirely. They got what coming to them

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-If you make a special trip to tighten the spinner plate because you are worried about being accused of baiting you would remove it entirely. They got what coming to them.

This pretty much sums it up, they should have taken the plea bargain and got their guns back and saved even more money on the lawyer bills.

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there are so many things that just say guilty here, so many things they could have done to prevent this instead of tightening that plate doesnt make sense

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I think they got caught being lazy.

There's a certain amount of responsibility that goes along with putting things in the woods. There comes a time when you need to take it out and so many do not.

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Baiting Deer: Not Guilty

Being Lazy: Guilty

Quote:
I think they got caught being lazy.

Yep you said it Wanderer wink

If they where MN deer baiters, the DNR would have found way more than just a questionably working feed, that had a couple cornels under it. After they where arrested tired I am sure the DNR searched the property over very well. Where are all the other true bait piles at if they are MN deer baiters? Maybe they where just to lazy to put them out grin

99.9% I stand behind what the MN DNR/CO's say but in this case it clearly is not an issue of baiting deer or we would be hearing about the other piles strung out threw out the property.

I was thinking about this last deer season while having a mid-morning snack. If I dropped part of my whole grain granola bar on the ground could I be charged with baiting deer? Just a funny thought but now I wonder? grin

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i think this is a case where the DNR wants people to know they are taking baiting laws to the next level and if you want to push the law this is whats going ot happen. its not just a $50 ticket or anything they mean business

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they had corn in a deer feeder in the woods during deer hunting while they were hunting. what's there to debate?

they broke the law, man-up, pay the fine, and move on.

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I see what you are saying mrklean but this is just a local situation that a local paper is covering. If what you’re saying is true not much of message is being broadcasted. First five 5 pages of the PP or Tribe I would say it is the DNR putting out a message.

I guess I would not even call that much of lazy and more of sloppy on their part (the defendants). The prosecution is going to have to convince a jury (without a shadow of doubt) that these guys where intentionally baiting deer. That is going to be a tough row to hoe for them (IMO). If they had just one bait pile going on their property, they would have copped a plea and pled guilty. Their lawyer would have given them no other option. If this goes before a jury the defense will most likely win.

To me it is not a case of having an automatic feeder out during the hunting season. It is their property, their feeder, and as long as they are not switching it on 10 days prior per the law, they are in the clear. I have no idea of what this feeder weighs or even looks like but some of the feeders I have seen look like they could weigh 300-400lbs even with a little corn in them. If you shut they feeder off 10 days prior to the hunt you're well with in the reg's for this year. Now if a deer can get into it during the season or 10days prior (in this case the DNR agent spins the thing around and the corn fell out or he tipped it over) is that really baiting deer?

Quote:
Speldrich said that he has an eight-foot reach and that he was on their property on Oct. 20, Nov. 6 and Nov. 8.

He said that he "touched the feeder and kernels of feed came out of the feeder. I tipped it and you could see kernels of corn on what I'll call the spinner. No more than half dozen kernels fell on the ground."

While the defendants have claimed that Speldrich tipped over the feeder, he said he just touched the bottom, causing it to "swing a little," and the feed came off the spinner plate. He said "I was reaching up eight feet in the air and it swayed a few inches but it wasn't cocked to one side."

To get arrested and your gun taken away on the opener for what they (CO's) found above is way over the top (IMO). Give them a written warning or a court date with having no past issues on their record. Yes if corn is in a pile then maybe. But 8' in the air? crazy To be it seems like a cop stopping you, banging into your tail light lenz with his night stick and cracking it, then giving you a taken for a broken lenz smirk

Quote:
• “Bait or feed” is grain, fruit, vegetables, nuts, hay, or other food that

is capable of attracting or enticing deer and that has been placed by a

person.

I do not see "husks and chaff" on the list.

Quote:
An area is considered baited for 10 days after complete removal of

the bait or feed.

The only thing that might get a prosecution win on this is the above reg... Is 8' in the air and a shut off feeder considered a "complete removal"? Still when this goes to a jury and the prosecution has to prove the defendant(s) intent was to bait wild game during that time frame, they have no case if baiting was not the intent.

This is really none of business in the first place and if tag’em and bag’em is what needs to be done then they will find this out when the jury decides.

they broke the law, man-up, pay the fine, and move on.

I can not blame them for fighting this. Nasty thing to have on your record. If I was in their shoes, and my intent was not to bait deer, I would be doing the same thing as they are wink. Why be guilty when you're not? I do not find what they are doing as being any less than a man than one who would put his tail between his legs and go "Ah well. I would not win anyways and I would just like to forget about it. I will just pay the fine" while the whole time you you're not guilty crazy

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Unless someone is dumb enough to brazenly sit over a clearly visible pile of corn with an empty feedsack rolled up beside you, any second rate paralegal could beat this charge. Just simply not a good law to begin with.

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I am really surprised at some of the opinions. I suppose that's what makes the world go round. But, I used to have a feeder. I started with a 5 gallon feeder and moved to a 55 gallon feeder. I simply could not get to my land every other week to refill it. Anyway, I hung my first feeder on a branch with a ladder that I hauled out into the woods. And, 2 hours later, it was ready to go. I was so proud. Two weeks later I went again with a ladder to restock the feeder. I suppose 25% of you have been laughing so far. Now, the rest of you can join in. I got to my tree and a bomb had exploded that feeder. The motor was almost unrecognizable. That bucket was 100 yards away. And, I learned that bears really love corn! So, seemingly like the hunters discussed here, I bought some chain and set up my new feeder between two trees instead of on a branch. I did this alone. And, because I am not the brightest guy - even with blaze orange - I filled the barrel while it was on the ground and could not lift it off the ground. I emptied the barrel and spent 4 hours getting it between those two trees and then went up and down a ladder 5 more times with 50 pound bags to refill the drum. An important side note is that you are better to get goat feed which has higher protein and is better for deer. But, my point in sharing this is I was not about to take that thing down before the season started. Are you crazy? I nearly killed myself getting the thing up there in the first place. Now, I did remove the batteries prior to deer season. This was mostly because I am cheap and batteries aren't. And, the feeder was almost empty anyway. I was not about to load feed into the darned thing just for excercize. Still, there was always some feed in there but no way for it to be dropped without batteries, or some dnr guy tipping the thing. And, that is what the dnr guy said he did. If someone is guilty, it seems to be the darned dnr guy.

And, the moment I make that claim I want to qualify it. I cannot begin to say how great I think our dnr is. Call any state agency and then call the dnr. Ask each agency a pertinant question and see who gives the better answer. I have had the same experience with game wardens. The DNR has a tough job in protecting our resourses. I mostly run in to game wardens when I am fishing in the summer. But, I have had them visit my ice house a couple times. After sitting alone for 12 hours and only catching a perch I am more than happy to talk to someone for 15 minutes; more if he has time. And, occasionally I have seen a game warden during deer season. I have never had a grouchy game warden. Some are not real talkitive, but they have always treated me fairly and most can crack a joke before moving on.

As I said, I no longer have a feeder. Instead I pay a guy $1,500 a year to reseed my food plot. I do remember reading before last deer season that they were going to be hard on illegal feeders. And, I had been considering buying 200 pounds of acorns to throw in an oak stand. I called the dnr and the lady said that was illegal. So, no acorns. All I can say is:

1. I think our DNR is great.

2. I would never remove a big feeder chained between two trees.

It would kill me.

3. If they had no batteries on the feeder, leave them alone.

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The DNR has a very tough job their arent enough in this state, where hunting and fishing are such a huge part of our culture my guess is the number of sportsman to dnr officers is something like 1000:1 (if someone has more correct numbers please correct me mine are just a guess) its hard to catch everything. And when they think they caught someone doing something illegal they get grilled for it. Its a tough job i know i wouldnt want

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Interesting story! Sorry to get off topic but I wonder how much money is tied up in this case. Not to mention the time of the CO's and law enforcement (and others). Seems to me that we are wasting such a great resource to enforce an impossible law. Legalize it and the we can spend our money on some serious issues. With the DNR's budget due to shrink, I think its time to focus on issues much more important than baiting deer! Just my humble opinion!

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