HomeOutdoorsMichigan Poacher Apprehended After Killing Nine Trophy Bucks

Michigan Poacher Apprehended After Killing Nine Trophy Bucks

by Jon D. B.
(Photo: Raymond Gehman/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

This Michigan felon takes today’s cake for being the opposite of an Outsider, with everything from poaching 9 bucks to domestic violence stacking against him.

Back in October, Michigan’s DNR would receive a tip from state police. The tip? Authorities spotted “several trophy deer” stashed in a barn belonging to an absolute bum of a man. Officers Matt Page and Tyler Cole would spot the bucks while investigating 33-year-old Justin Ernst of Decatur over a domestic violence complaint. Ernst is a convicted felon already, so all bets were on the deer being poached.

DNR officials would investigate as a result, and they found 9 large trophy bucks shoved into the barn. According to their report, Ernst would drive his truck through local fields, shine a spotlight, and then poach the bucks.

He’s now facing up to $59,500 in reimbursement to the state if all charges follow through; 15 in total. As per Michigan DNR’s report, Ernst’s pending charges are:

  • Two counts of firearm possession by a felon.
  • Two felony firearms violations.
  • One count of hunting with a revoked hunting license.
  • One count of applying for, or obtaining, a hunting license when ineligible.
  • Nine counts of taking game illegally.

“It’s a shame that this criminal ruined the chance for ethical, legal hunters to have their opportunity to take one of these trophy deer,” comments Lt. Gerald Thayer, Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Not only did this felon steal from the natural resource, he also damaged agriculture crops, and has been doing so for some time.”

Lt. Thayer says “the financial penalty is the minimum he should serve,” and many an Outsider would agree.

Bucks Bust Bum: Michigan Poacher’s Startling Criminal History

And these 2021 charges are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the DNR, Ernst has a prior conviction with the division from 2018 for “illegally taking or possessing whitetail deer.”

Outside poaching, the 33-year-old has already managed to rack up felony charges on “possession of methamphetamine or ecstacy, third-degree fleeing a police officer and third offense (felony) operating a vehicle under the influence of liquor.”

What a winner. Ernst’s latest bust came courtesy of a local homeowner. After receiving their “search anywhere” permission, officers Page and Cole would locate and seize the first 8 of 9 trophy bucks: five 10-pointers and three 8-pointers.

But he wouldn’t stop there. Amidst their investigation, Ernst would continue his poaching and bring in a ninth deer. The homeowner suspected him to be under the influence of methamphetamine at the time, too, as Ernst would “stay out all night, and usually there would be another buck in the barn the next morning.”

Several witnesses would also come forward to testify against Ernst. But the felon denies any connection to his poaching or the bucks. Instead, he told the officers he could not hunt because his hunting license had been revoked. Another shocker.

But within Ernst’s vehicle, officers would find: two shotguns, a crossbow, a bloody crossbow bolt, and a handheld spotlight.

In short: Don’t poach bucks. Don’t poach anything. And strive to be the opposite of Justin Ernst, Outsiders.