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Decatur resident found guilty of illegally taking nine trophy bucks

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Posted at 4:44 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 16:44:29-05

DECATUR, Mich. — A Decatur man was given lifetime hunting revocation and ordered to pay $25,000 after illegally taking nine trophy bucks.

Oct. 17, 2021, Michigan State Police were investigating 33-year-old Justin Ernst in relation to a domestic violence case before noticing several deer in a nearby barn.

The Department of Natural Resources was notified by MSP and an anonymous tip that Ernst had taken another trophy buck increasing his total to nine illegally taken deer.

Ernst pleaded guilty to one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of obtaining a hunting license when ineligible, and three counts of illegal taking/possessing whitetail deer.

“We’re satisfied that this criminal will be imprisoned for robbing ethical hunters, damaging crops and endangering others by recklessly driving through fields and shooting deer at night,” said David Shaw, assistant chief, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. “We hope this serious sentence serves its intended purpose and are grateful for the strong message rendered by the 36th Circuit Court.”

Ernst was ordered to pay $25,000 in reimbursement and forfeit all seized items and given a lifetime hunting revocation as part of his plea deal. Additionally, Ernst will serve 18 months to five years imprisonment in a Michigan Department of Corrections facility.

Poaching or other natural resource violations can be reported by calling the Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800.