SW Michigan man faces 15 charges after poached bucks found


A beautiful white-tailed buck in the Michigan forest. The archery deer season starts up around the state Oct. 1. Courtesy: Michigan DNR

DECATUR, Mich. (AP) — The discovery of nine poached trophy bucks in a barn has led to 15 state wildlife charges against a southwestern Michigan man, authorities said.

Police investigating an October domestic violence complaint discovered the bucks in a barn in the Van Buren County village of Decatur.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said the man is suspected of driving his truck through fields, shining a light on the deer and shooting them.

Justin Ernst, 33, Decatur, was arraigned Nov. 9 in 7th District Court in Paw Paw and is scheduled to reappear in court on Dec. 20. He is free on bond. He faces up to $59,500 in reimbursement to the state if convicted.

The charges against Ernst include nine counts of taking game illegally, four weapons counts and one count each of hunting with a revoked hunting license and obtaining a hunting license when ineligible.

It wasn’t clear whether Ernst has an attorney who might comment on his behalf.

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