Alleged Illegal Deer Hunting Became A "Contest"

Eleven people in Bayfield County accused of turning illegal deer hunting into a contest face dozens of criminal and civil charges.

Department of Natural Resources wardens say the males range in age from 16 to their early 20s. They're accused of shining deer, shooting deer and leaving injured or dead deer in the field and hunting outside the season.

The D-N-R investigated for seven months. Warden Matt MacKenzie says the shootings began with a small circle of friends and expanded as the group's confidence increased.

MacKenzie says there were a lot of bucks taken illegally that would have been fair game to hunters during the season. He says safety was also an issue because the men would sometimes shoot at night in fields near houses and livestock.

Eighteen-yeer-old Jessie Larson of Iron River is facing the most charges. Twenty-nine criminal counts have been filed against Larson, including shining and possessing game during the closed season.

Together the males face criminal fines and civil forfeitures totaling more than $160,000.