Prosecutors have charged a 43-year-old man from Tuscola County’s Elmwood Township with poaching and five other crimes, and could charge three other suspects in connection with a Dec. 1 incident in that township.
Dirk L. DeLong is accused of poaching a deer, illegally “shining” for deer while possessing a firearm, and drunken driving.
DeLong, arraigned Wednesday in Tuscola County District Court, also faces charges of possessing a loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle, and transporting or possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.
He also faces a felony charge of possessing a firearm while committing or attempting to commit the crime of possessing a loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle. The felony charge carries a sentence of two years in prison preceding any prison term imposed for possessing a loaded firearm in or upon a vehicle.
Tuscola County Magistrate Joseph A. Van Auken set a $1,000 bond and imposed bond conditions requiring DeLong not to possess or buy a firearm or other dangerous weapon.
DeLong posted bond and awaits a hearing on the evidence at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 2 in District Court.
Court officials said the other three suspects hadn’t been arraigned on criminal charges as of press time.
Prosecutors charged DeLong with drunken driving on Cass City Road, at or near Green Road, in Elmwood Township, about four miles west of Cass City. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Joshua Wright and Tuscola County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Justin Nitz investigated the case.
Officers allege DeLong took a deer with a firearm during closed season. Michigan’s regular firearm deer-hunting season ended Nov. 30, the day before officers encountered DeLong.
The “shining” charge accuses DeLong of using an artificial light in a field, woodland or forest while having a firearm in his possession or under his control. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five to 90 days in jail and a fine of $100 to $500. If convicted, DeLong also would surrender his hunting license for the remainder of the year of his conviction, and for the following year – or longer, at the court’s discretion.
The poaching charge carries a maximum sentence of five to 90 days in jail and a fine of $200 to $1,000. DeLong also would have to pay $1,000 in restitution to the state of Michigan for the value of the deer.
In addition, upon conviction, he would have to pay additional restitution of $1,000 for an antlered white-tailed deer plus $500 for each antler point for a deer with at least eight points but not more than 10 points. The penalty would be higher for an antlered white-tailed deer with 11 or more points.
Additional fines also are mandated if the deer is an antlered deer, though court records don’t indicate whether the deer in question was a buck or doe.
A hunter convicted of poaching shall not secure or possess any kind of hunting license for the year of the conviction and the following three years. If the poached animal was an antlered white-tailed deer, the hunter isn’t allowed any kind of hunting license for an additional two years.
Check out an update of this story here.
Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer at The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.