ZIMMERMAN, Minn. (WCCO) – A Sherburne County man is learning an expensive and difficult lesson about his pursuit of trophy whitetail deer.
Michael Walz, 37, of Zimmerman, can’t hunt big game for three years. He recently pleaded guilty to transporting illegal big game.
The gross misdemeanor is the result of an investigation which found Walz poached at least 13 trophy deer from the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in recent years.
The Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge is a 30,000 acre haven of habitat, northwest of Zimmerman.
It’s an area where bow hunters will spend countless hours in hot pursuit of whitetail deer.
State Conservation Officer, Mitch Sladek said an anonymous tip eventually led to Walz, who admitted to poaching 13 whitetail deer from the refuge on licenses that were not his.
“When I got there, I asked for his license and he filed through all the licenses he had,” Sladek said. “He had three or four other licenses in his pocket.”
Walz admitted to his wrongdoing and recently pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor in Sherburne County District Court of illegally transporting big game.
“You talk about ethics all the time, and it’s all about being satisfied with one deer and pass that on to your generations of kids who’d love to have a deer as a mount on the wall,” Sladek said.
Six of the confiscated deer are of head mounts with massive antler sets, worthy of any big game trophy room.
Besides the confiscations, loss of hunting privileges and $3,000 in court costs, Walz has been ordered to write a public apology, which will be published in the widely read “Outdoor News.”
“I think that’s the most important thing I want to come from this case,” Sladek said. “People learn from this and they do it right.”