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You reported your mistake, delivered the deer to him, and he wouldn't even let you keep the tenderloins? I have to wonder if the outcome would have been the same if he hadn't been a trainee. Good example of why honest people might decide to break the law.
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It's just like "zero tolerance policy" in our public school system

Which fosters a lack of respect and implies rational people cannot consider circumstance.

Apparently wardens in Vermont Are considered too stupid to use their own judgement and common sense.

This country is in huge trouble because stuff like this is becoming the norm in many areas.

Common sense is on its deathbed.

I am sorry they treated you the same as a willful criminal.

I agree with you on this, bob. Too many organizations want to make all decision making into a black/white process and manage everything from the top. There are a few exceptions, but generally law enforcement seems to have taken that direction across the board.

In my case, I can't help but wonder if a seasoned warden would have handled things a little differently. Remember, the first warden I spoke with specifically mentioned a warning and I'd like to think that was not just his way of getting me to come in and meet him. Being a more experienced and proven officer, he may very well have the discretion to make decisions as he deems appropriate. On the other hand, a trainee may be expected to follow all directives as written. If I put myself in this young warden's boots, would I have been willing to stick my neck out and risk jeopardizing my career?

I really wish he would have at least let me keep the deer.

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You reported your mistake, delivered the deer to him, and he wouldn't even let you keep the tenderloins? I have to wonder if the outcome would have been the same if he hadn't been a trainee. Good example of why honest people might decide to break the law.

I didn't see your post before adding mine above. It looks like our thinking is aligned on this. Also, you raise the exact question that's on the minds of all our camp members now.

What would we do if there's a next time?

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Well, at least you don't have to go to court, didn't lose your license and didn't have your firearm confiscated. That's pretty much standard procedure here in my part of MI this year with these new rules we have...and I was with a CO on opening day last week when she confiscated two guns and two different deer.

She told me that they would probably get his gun back, but they hold it as insurance that the law breakers' will show up in court.

Will this go on your hunting record?

If so, you might have problems getting licenses in other states. I'm told it depends on the state you want to hunt in.

As for the deer, they are usually donated to people or organizations who really need the meat, so you can probably rest easy that the deer went to a good cause.

And you can go hunting again.

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From the other side of the coin. If they let people off without making it painful enough.....what is to stop someone from just shooting what they want, turn themselves in and never have to follow the antler rules?

On a personal level I sure know that mistakes happen, it's not like you were shooting a pony and you don't show up with a illegal deer every year.......so you would think a warning would be sufficient.

Bad luck.

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All because of a little inch or two of bone.  Antler restrictions are some archaic hold over from times gone by and can't be justified in any way.

Just think, this whole case revolves around a little buck that broke off some antler, a hunter trying to ID a deer in heavy brush see's something that's not there, and a seasoned and reasonable CO is away on a call and a trainee has to fill in for a few minutes.  A heavy fine and a potential violation on his record results.  Common sense has left the building.

Now we've all learned that the proper course of action when we make a mistake is to leave the deer where it lays and go on hunting.

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Linda, yes there are also five points on my license now.

Chuck, I can absolutely see that side of it. There are probably some folks who would take advantage of a more lenient policy and shoot the first spike buck they see if they knew they'd get to keep the deer, their license and only pay a small fine. I'm sure that was a key part of the department's policy decision.

I'll be in the woods this afternoon, attempting to get a look at that big buck who's busy sharing his genes with the next generation. That is my best consolation.

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All because of a little inch or two of bone.  Antler restrictions are some archaic hold over and can't be justified in any way. Common sense has left the building.

Now we've all learned that the proper course of action is to leave the deer where it lays.

When the "fork horn regulation" was implemented five years ago, there was a lot of controversy over it here. The best argument against, in my mind was with regard to meat hunters. Meat is exactly what I was thinking about when I shot this deer. That said, I think you'd find few hunters here who are still in opposition to the law today. It has increased the numbers of bucks in our state and deer hunters are happy about that.

As far as the "lesson" to be taken away from my experience, well, I'd like to think I'd take the same course of action again, I guess.

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braque du upstate
More and more i find myself avoiding police whenever possible. " doing the right thing"  has always bit me in the wallet.  Hate to say it, your first answer might have been my solution. Coyotes got to eat.
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When the "fork horn regulation" was implemented five years ago, there was a lot of controversy over it here. The best argument against, in my mind was with regard to meat hunters. Meat is exactly what I was thinking about when I shot this deer. That said, I think you'd find few hunters here who are still in opposition to the law today. It has increased the numbers of bucks in our state and deer hunters are happy about that.

The law implies that a 1.5 yr 6" forkhorn is somehow more desirable than a 1.5 yr 6" spike, and therefore must be a viable harvest.  There's not a dime's worth of difference between the two, whether it's their value as trophies or breeding stock or as meat in the freezer.

Far better to simply say a legal buck must have visible polished antler, period.  He either does, or he doesn't.  6 mo. old buttons are protected that way.

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Tim , you did the right thing . I'm thinking the seasoned game warden would have cut you some slack . The new guy has to follow the letter of the law or lose his job . Tough break .
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If I was managing this with the technology we have today it would be simple to have a database of 1 st time offenders.

Give the first time offender a warning ticket and his deer to eat, give the second time offender a heavy fine. Keep the database a secret. Tell him next time a fine would be certain and to be more selective about what he shoots.

Look at the first time offenders police record if its clean and especially if he turned himself in, would tell my common sense meter this was in fact just an accident.

Stuff like this damages respect for the law and law enforcement officers.

I don't know what 5 points on your license means, but I would definitely follow up with this up the management food chain. You should not accept some new kid wardens opinion as the final word on the topic. I would ask for a large reduction in the fine amount and the "points" removed.

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I was hoping that in VT we still know the difference between good and evil. Apparently we don't. But thank you for finding out what the SOP is so I can make my decision in that eventuality with it in mind. It could have been worse they could have pulled your license also.

So if you had taken option 1 or 2 you would have saved yourself a bunch of money, wasted less of everybody's fuel and time and the deer still would have been part of the food chain, no matter if you or the coyotes ate it.

I suppose the money might make you less apt to shoot without being absolutely positive but there is not that much time between when you see a deer and can shoot it to never make a mistake. There also could have been two deer there, a friend of mine thirty years ago shot a deer, it went down, stood up again, he shot it again and it went down, walked over and found two spikehorns.

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Valueman,

Having a brand new DNR trainee assigned to this case was a very bad break. He very well may have been on probation and when there is a new SOP covering this situation, he had to follow it or his butt would be in a sling. Maybe he would have been fired.

Here in NW Lower MI, there are brand new Manditory Antler Restrictions  (MARs) covering an additional 12 counties in the NW Lower ie. 3 scoreable points on one side.  Almost 70% of hunters and landowners in the region  voted for MARs last year. In Leelanau Co where we live, MARs have been in existence for 10 years. Its has been good for the deer and the deer hunting both. I see the evidence 12 months a year with my own eyes.

I teach Hunter Safety here every August. Identifying a legal buck was a hot topic in the classes. I brought a variety of dropped antlers  plus racks for a "show and tell" session on "Shoot or Don't Shoot". We (ALL of the instructors) made a big point about always wearing a GOOD pair of binoculars to positively identify a legal buck.  Two eyes are much better than one in identifying antler points in the woods. End of sermon.

VM, you did the right thing and Good on ya for doing it. Trust me, I am not being judgemental. Sorry you didn't get to keep the deer. And THANK YOU  for being honest and posting this up. I think this is a very valuable lesson/ reminder for all of us deer hunters with several states just about to start rifle season.

NB

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More and more i find myself avoiding police whenever possible. " doing the right thing"  has always bit me in the wallet.  Hate to say it, your first answer might have been my solution. Coyotes got to eat.

Especially in New York state.   I would love to move to the St. Lawrence river valley but the police, laws, political leadership, taxes and bureaucracy - basically anything to do with state government - means I'll never do it.

This is coming from a guy in New Jersey.

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