MN: Hunter fined $12k
April 9, 2010
Washington County deer hunting case snares employer, employee Bucks
allegedly shot in license scheme
A Marine on St. Croix man faces $12,000 in fines and possible jail time
for alleged deer-hunting and license violations dating to 2007 during his
pursuit of trophy deer.
Daniel Erwin Chase, 64, faces eight counts of illegal deer hunting in
incidents where he shot trophy bucks on his property using licenses
purchased by his employee, according to a criminal complaint filed last
month in Washington County District Court.
The employee, Steven James Meister, 58, of Stillwater, faces five counts
of license and big-game violations, according to a separate criminal
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources investigation began last
year when a conservation officer received a tip that Chase was shooting two
bucks a season while using a friend's license.
Investigators discovered the friend was Meister, who told them Chase had
shot bucks in the falls of 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 using Meister's rifle
and muzzleloader deer licenses.
When questioned, Meister told investigators "he had not actually hunted
in 10 years,'' yet Meister had registered the deer in his name.
The hunting occurred on Chase's property on 154th Street in a rural area
south of Marine on St. Croix.
DNR officers seized six mounted trophy bucks and a muzzleloader rifle
from Chase's home. All the mounts had antler scores ranging from 124 to 157
on the Boone and Crockett scale, which is considered trophy size. Chase
refused to tell investigators which he had shot with Meister's license and
which with his own.
Meister told investigators that Chase would use Meister's license to
shoot his first buck, "then uses his own license to possibly take a bigger
buck," and that the practice had been going on for "six or seven years."
Chase told investigators he had killed deer with a muzzleloader rifle
every year for the past "three or four years," but records show he had not
bought a muzzleloader license in 2008 and 2009, according to the complaint.
"It's cheating on multiple levels," said DNR conservation officer Alex
Gutierrez, who led the investigation.
Chase is charged with failure to register big game, two counts of illegal
lending or borrowing a license, two counts of unlawful party hunting,
hunting deer without a license, illegally taking big game and illegally
possessing big game.
Meister is charged with two counts of lending or borrowing a license, two
counts of transporting illegal big game and illegally possessing big game.
Gutierrez said the statute of limitations prohibits the DNR from charging
the men with violations earlier than 2007. In addition to other penalties,
both men could lose their hunting licenses for up to three years if
convicted, Gutierrez said.
Chase did not return phone calls, and attempts to reach Meister by phone
were unsuccessful. A 2000 Pioneer Press story quoted Chase as the owner of
Marine Supply Inc., a company that sold luxury boats and large powerboats.
Their first court appearance is May 5 in Washington County District Court.
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