Minnesota Deputy Denies Hunting Over Illegal Deer Feed

Two years after a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) officer discovered evidence of baiting with deer feed, a Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office sergeant has been charged. Sergeant Tim Bennett pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor of “hunting with the aid or use of bait in connection with the incident,” the Albert Lea Tribune reports.

Minnesota Deputy Denies Hunting Over Illegal Deer Feed

A Minnesota Deputy Sheriff recently pleaded not guilty to the charge of hunting with the aid or use of bait, which is against the law in Minnesota. He is scheduled to appear for a settlement conference on April 5.

Officer Claims He Didn’t See the Deer Feed 

While MDNR conservation officer pilot Robert Geving discovered the bait pile in the Bear Lake area of Freeborn County in November 2016, it wasn’t until the following year that officers were able to figure out who was hunting there. In Minnesota, it’s illegal to bait deer. Whoever was behind the baited area –“a large trough-style feeder elevated approximately 2 feet on legs,” according to the Albert Lea Tribune, filled with corn positioned below a treestand – was violating state regulations.

On the morning of the season opener, Nov. 5, 2017, MDNR conservation officer Jeremy Henke, lieutenant Jason Beckmann and conservation officer Chad Davis decided to investigate the stand located “250 to 300 yards” behind a local residence and happened upon Bennett, who was wearing blaze orange and carrying a Savage Model 516 firearm. Bennett greeted Henke by name and remarked that that he hadn’t shot a deer that morning and “did not know ‘he had that {expletive) out there,’” the Albert Lea Tribune reported.

While the men investigated the stand baited with deer feed, according to the incident report, Bennett told them that “he did not notice the corn in the feeder, but did notice the fact that a deer feeder was present.”

“The feeder was filled with corn and had a trail camera pointed directly at the feeder,” Henke said in the incident report. “The stand was approximately 30 to 35 yards from the feeder location with a direct shot to the feeder from the stand.”

COULD BAITING HURT YOUR CHANCES OF HUNTING SUCCESS? 

Investigators located the owner of the property, Devin Yost, a local farmer who had given Bennett permission to hunt there. According to the report, Yost knew of the feeder and told MDNR that he neglected to inform Bennett of its location. The report indicates that Bennett was unaware. Bennett told officers, “I just walked out here this morning. Yost did not tell me there was corn out here. I know he has food plots though.”

Bennett’s attorney, Robert Fowler, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that MDNR will have to prove that Bennett knew of the feeder before hunting the stand.

“If you don’t know there is a feeder, you can’t be guilty,’’ said Fowler. “They just don’t have the evidence.”

Bennett is scheduled to appear for a settlement conference on April 5.

BAITING DEER VS. GROWING FOOD PLOTS

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