by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol Reporter
People can keep their memories but perhaps not their equipment if caught poaching.
More than 200 guns — top-of-the-line brands like Benelli, Beretta and Weatherby — are going on the block. About a dozen muzzle loaders are included in the mix.
Along with the guns, about 40 bows, including a handful of crossbows, will go to the highest bidders beginning at 10 a.m. Other confiscated items on auction include deer antlers, an all-terrain vehicle, a personal watercraft, snowmobiles and a boat-motor-trailer combination. Tree stands, traps, fishing rods and reels, trail cameras, spotlights and other gear will be sold.
Auction proceeds will be deposited in the state Game and Fish Fund. Proceeds from the sale of vehicles confiscated in DWI arrests are deposited into a DWI forfeiture account.
Background checks are made on gun buyers. Hiller Auction Barn is a federally licensed gun dealer. The auction service is 2 miles east of the Highway 169 and the County Road 4 intersection in Zimmerman.
A list of DNR-confiscated auction items is on the Hiller website at www.hillerauction.com.
Most of the confiscated firearms came into DNR possession as a result of deer baiting violations, DNR Assistant Director of Enforcement Rodmen Smith said.
In Minnesota, hunting deer with bait is illegal. All bait must be completely removed 10 days prior to hunting, Smith said.
While many pinches for illegal baiting come as the result of tips from hunters hunting nearby lands, hunting party members have occasionally turned in members of their own party for illegal baiting, he said. Losing out on the chance for a big buck as the result of illegal hunting really irks some hunters, Smith said.
Amateur sleuths, inspecting the upscale brand names of some of confiscated guns, might think the former owners were wealthy. But Smith said that would be a false conclusion. Some people simply must have the most up-to-date, expensive firearms available, regardless of their pocketbook. You can find others, wealthy people, carrying the beat-up, old guns their grandfathers gave them, Smith said.
Regarding hunters simply making mistakes in the field — mistakenly shooting a doe, thinking it was a buck, for instance — Smith said sports people do sometimes turn themselves in.
“If you make a mistake, call and let us know,” he said.
Generally, when people step forward and admit a mistake, things go better for them, Smith said. But genuine poachers have no intention of turning themselves in.
Turn in Poachers, or TIP, is a private group dedicated to stopping poaching.
People can report suspected poaching by calling the statewide, toll-free TIP line at 800-652-9093. Tips that are not time sensitive can be given online. The names of callers can be kept confidential, with callers being eligible for rewards up to $1,000.
Tim Budig can be reached at [email protected].