By Jon Mills
MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. (WZM) -- A Kent County hunter accused of shooting two trophy deer this past weekend faces jail time and significant fines.
Conservation officers say this is the time of year when they take poaching reports. Deer hunters are setting up blinds and tree stands and sometimes just cannot wait for the deer season to start.
"October one is the start of the bow season so hunters are in the woods actively scouting and looking for sports to hunt," said Greg Patten of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
BJ Goulette, also a DNR officer agrees. "September is when it starts to ramp up."
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Poachers this year face much more significant penalties: a 5 to 90 day jail sentence and new, higher fines. The state will now calculate fines for bucks based on the number of antler points: $500 per point for eight, nine, and 10 point bucks; $750 per point for bucks with more than 10 points.
"You could be looking at ten thousand dollars for an antlered deer," said Patten.
During the youth hunt this past weekend, an adult hunter is accused of shooting two large bucks. If convicted in court, that hunter will get jail time and lose hunting privileges for two years and be charged $14,000 in restitution to the state. Portions of the restitution fees are used as reward money for poaching tips.
"Which could be in the hundreds of dollars for that successful tip," said Goulette.
The DNR has a tip line where people can report poaching; it's staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number is (800) 292-7800.
Goulette says if hunters obey the rules and turn in hunters who do not, it results in a better experience for all hunters. "This is a sport like any other sport and if people are not following the rules then it is cheating, and you are taking an opportunity away from someone else that is doing it the right way."
Conservation officers are completing the investigation into the hunter accused of poaching. The case should be turned over to the Kent County Prosecutor's office next week. Video.