By Brian Bridgeford - BARABOO - Game wardens cited 13 men including
residents of LaValle, Wonewoc and Hillsboro for hunting violations after
wardens say they shot deer and turkey illegally in five counties.
The men involved are all friends who met informally to go hunting,
sometimes violating the law in the process, said John Buss, a Department
of Natural Resources warden based in Prairie du Sac. Their violations
include hunting at night with a spotlight and shooting from a vehicle,
which puts the public at risk, he said.
The bust is the second set of group-poaching allegations made by Buss
and fellow wardens in about a month. In early March they cited four
Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells men on allegations they used a silenced
rifle to shoot deer at night and out of season. Possible charges are
still being considered by the Sauk County District Attorney.
In the most recent case, several bucks were shot near Dutch Hollow
Lake in northwest Sauk County, an area closed to hunting because of the
many homes there, Buss said. The violators took some of the unusually
large bucks which had grown in the area because it was free of hunting
pressure, he said.
"Some of them were involved deeper in the violations than others and
they'd go out and do it," he said.
In one incident, three of the men went to Taylor county where they
owned a cabin, said Warden Mike Nice of Richland Center. There, they
shot a deer with a rifle at about 3 a.m., then registered it as an
archery kill in Taylor County. They brought the deer to Richland County
where they removed the tags and each man registered it as having been
taken there. As a result of falsely registering the Taylor County deer,
the three received permits to shoot bucks under the Earn-a-Buck program,
According to the DNR the men cited are: Walter G. Gnirk, 23; Kenneth
L. Johnson, Jr., 25; William L. Johnson, Jr., 25; Jeffrey D. Frey, 29,
Michael L. Johnson, 20; Andrew D. Erickson, 24, and Matthew M. Erickson,
26, all of Hillsboro; Wonewoc residents Daniel N. Phillips, 24; Justin
R. Phillips, 22; Adam L. Griffa, 21; Kyle J. Phillips, 19; and Brogan H.
Boldon, 19; and Nathan Phillips, 21, of LaValle.
Efforts to reach several of the men by phone were unsuccessful Friday
evening and messages were not returned.
Buss said he worked with Nice and Warden Mike Green of Wisconsin
Dells on the two-year investigation which included gathering information
and surveillance. Beginning in January they contacted suspects and
confirmed 37 incidents of illegally shooting deer and turkeys.
However, it was information from the public that really helped break
the case, he said. Citizens assisted with the investigation because
their property was trespassed on and wildlife they feel ownership of was
taken without permission.
"We got tips from citizens, and we just started piecing the puzzle
together, gunfire at night, evidence of deer being dragged out," he
said. "A lot of the property owners felt just like their house had been
Charges against the men are being filed in circuit courts in
Richland, Vernon, Sauk, Juneau and Taylor counties, according to the DNR.
They face penalties that range from $437 to $7,000 per violation for a
total of about $36,400 in fines