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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2004

OUTDOORSMAN DONALD "BABE" WINKELMAN CITED FOR UNLAWFUL DEER HUNT

Updated: 05-10-2004 01:55:40 PM

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (AP) - Donald "Babe" Winkelman, the TV host and columnist who promotes Minnesota's outdoors life, will likely pay a fine after being cited for allegedly using an illegal method to hunt deer.

The Department of Natural Resources alleged that Winkelman had illegal radio conversations with his wife and another person on Nov. 16 at Winkelman's hunting property in Corliss Township near Perham.

In a written plea petition, Winkelman, 55, entered what is called an Alford plea, which allows him to concede that there is enough evidence for a jury to convict him without admitting guilt.

Winkelman signed the petition April 23, Assistant County Attorney Cherie Clark said Monday.

District Judge Wally Senyk reviewed the petition last week and asked lawyers handling the case to make investigative reports an official part of the record before he accepts the plea. Under the agreement, the case would be dismissed after a year if Winkelman pays $200 and writes a newspaper column about hunting ethics.

Winkelman's columns appear in nearly 60 magazines and more than 450 newspapers, according to the Web site of Babe Winkelman Productions Inc., and his syndicated TV shows, "Outdoor Secrets" and "Good Fishing" are broadcast on Fox Sports Net, The Outdoor Channel and other stations.

The DNR's hunting and trapping manual says "using radio equipment to take big game or small game is unlawful." Information officer Scott Pengelly said such a technique goes against "the fair chase ethic."

Dennis Lang, the DNR officer who cited Winkelman, said he received a tip that radios were being used by hunters near Perham, and he went to the area to monitor radio frequencies. After listening to a number of people coordinate a deer hunt using walkie-talkies, Lang said he located Winkelman and gave him a citation.

Winkelman told his wife he would try to get deer moving in her direction and told her to get into her hunting stand, Lang said.

Mike Fine, director of marketing for Babe Winkelman Productions, said Winkelman was using the radio for safety reasons - in part to stay in touch with his 81-year-old father. He said he didn't intend to use it for an illegal deer hunting.

Fine said the law is open to interpretation among DNR officers.

Lang, however, said it was clear to him when he listened to the conversations that Winkelman broke the law.


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