Among the punishments the Saginaw County man received in the illegal deer baiting case was a sentence of 45 days in jail, according to the Michigan DNR.
A Saginaw County man was fined heavily, ordered to serve jail time, probation and community service, and had his hunting privileges revoked when he was sentenced recently for deer hunting violations he committed during the fall 2016 firearm deer hunting season.
Dexter James Sysak, 40, of Merill was convicted by a District Court jury in April of multiple hunting violations, dating back to Nov. 29. He was sentenced June 21.
“Sysak had taken a dump truck of sugar beets and two dump trailers of corn and placed them on his hunting property,” said Michigan Conservation Officer Joseph Myers, who investigated the case. “The actual measure of bait was impossible to count but was estimated at two-and-a-half tons.”
Myers said conservation officers were alerted to a complaint of over use of bait via an anonymous tip to the DNR Report All Poaching hotline (800-292-7800) on Nov. 27.
The following day, officers went to the area, which turned out to be an old golf course —property owned by Sysak near the Gratiot-Saginaw county line. Myers said he found access to the site using a county road easement.
“I saw a hunting blind on the right and I could see an orange object through the trees,” Myers said. “It was a grain trailer full of corn with the door broken off and about 100 gallons of corn on the ground.”
Corn was spread over a wide area. Myers said he kicked a hard object while walking, which was a sugar beet.
“There was a 150-yard cobblestone road of sugar beets making a J-shape around the blind,” Myers said. “It looked like an individual had drove onto the property and just dumped the sugar beets out of a truck.”
With no name on the blind and no one at the site, Myers didn’t know who owned the land or the property. He decided to return the next day, Nov. 29.
“There was a truck parked there. I walked up to the blind and there were four individuals in the blind,” Myers said.
Myers said he saw Sysak pick up a hunter orange vest as Myers approached the blind.
After interviewing Sysak, Myers determined the bait, far in excessive of the 2-gallon limit, had been in the area for some time.
“Sysak also admitted to me that he had taken a 9-point buck over the illegal bait, making it an illegal deer,” Myers said. “I seized evidence and cited the suspect.”
Myers said Sysak showed him the gun he used and where he shot the deer from. He also told Myers which meat processor the deer had been taken to, a place just a couple miles down the road.
Myers contacted the processor and recovered the deer meat and antlers.
Sysak pleaded not guilty.
A jury trial was held April 28 in District Court 65B in Ithaca in Gratiot County, where Sysak was found guilty by the panel of six jurors on all three charges against him. Those misdemeanors included an over limit of bait, failing to wear hunter orange and taking a deer by an illegal method.
Myers said Sysak admitted the facts necessary to prove the case during his testimony at trial. He also admitted he had rented a dump truck to place the bait on the property.
Sysak was sentenced June 21 to serve 45 days in jail, fined roughly $15,000, including $6,500 reimbursement for the deer and ordered to serve 90 hours of community service to the DNR once his jail sentence is served. He was banned from all DNR activities during his 2-year probation term. All sport license privileges were revoked through 2022.
The meat from the deer will be given to needy families in the community.
There were extensive terms set for Sysak’s probation. If any of those terms are violated, it would be grounds for Sysak serving up to 1 year in jail and potential lifetime revoking of his hunting license privileges.
Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned state peace officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety and protect citizens by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve.
Learn more about Michigan conservation officers at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.