Three Louisiana men pleaded guilty on Nov. 4, to illegally pursuing deer in southwest Iowa after a person with knowledge of the case made a call to the local conservation officer in late October.
Danial Vidrine, 51, of Baton Rouge, La., pleaded guilty in Mills County to hunting without a license and hunting deer over bait. Vidrine paid $849 in fines and forfeited his bow, several tree stands, trail cameras, deer decoys and other hunting items.
Todd Comeaux, 43, of Baton Rouge, La., pleaded guilty in Fremont County to hunting deer over bait. Comeaux paid $195 in fines and $700 in restitution. He forfeited a ground blind, tree stands, trail cameras, deer decoys and other hunting items.
Jon Fontana, 52, of Baton Rouge, La., pleaded guilty in Fremont County to hunting deer without the proper licenses and hunting deer over bait. Fontana paid $849 in fines and $700 in restitution. He forfeited binoculars and other hunting items.
Officers began watching the location on the Mills and Fremont County line and discovered numerous baited sites with tree stands nearby.
State Conservation Officer Deb Smith said the men stayed near the area in a cabin resembling a metal pole barn building.
"They would park their vehicles inside making it difficult to associate this site with a hunting camp," she said. Smith was joined by fellow officers Brian Smith, Dave Tierney, Jeremy King, Andrea Bevington, Eric Sansgaard and Marlow Wilson in the investigation. The DNR was assisted by the Iowa State Patrol plane and trooper pilot Kenny Jensen to help coordinate officers on the ground.
Officers watched the men leave the cabin and each go to a different baited site and on Nov. 4, they made contact with them in the field.
Smith said during the investigation, officers learned the men had been coming to Iowa for years pursuing deer either with or without licenses.
"This is the most egregious case of baiting I have ever worked on. Had we not had the tip, this case would likely not have been made and these individuals would continue to come back to Iowa to steal our deer," she said.
Officers did not locate any deer killed by the men at the cabin.