An alleged illegal deer hunt that took place in April 2019 has led to misdemeanor charges against three men, two from Rice Lake and one from Haugen, according to a complaint filed Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Barron County Circuit Court.
The complaint said the three defendants were involved in an incident in which a pregnant doe was shot in April 2019. The deer was later butchered. Two unborn fawns, allegedly taken from the deer, were found stored in a freezer at one of the defendants’ homes, the complaint said.
One of the defendants, identified as 37-year-old Tyler J. Crotteau, 2513 County Hwy. SS, Rice Lake, could face up to nearly a year and one-half in jail and/or $14,000 in fines if found guilty, the complaint said.
Two other defendants, 44-year-old Paul K. Goin, 311 Plecity Ave., Haugen, and 36-year-old Jeremy J. Balser, 2444 County Hwy. SS, Rice Lake, were each charged with possessing game during a closed season, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.
Each defendant could also lose his hunting privileges for up to three years.
According to the complaint, a Department of Natural Resources game warden was informed about an illegal deer shooting alleged to have taken place in April 2019. In May 2019, the warden visited defendant Balser to question him about the incident.
After at first denying his involvement, Balser allegedly confessed and, later, filled out a written statement. The statement said Balser was driving his car home from the Poor Folks Saloon, on Bear Lake, on Saturday afternoon, April 13. With him were his three children, ages 13, 11 and 6, and defendant Crotteau, who was in the passenger seat.
As they drove toward Haugen, the defendants saw a deer (later determined to be a pregnant doe) on the passenger side of a town of Bear Lake road. The deer was about 40 feet off the road, on private land. The statement said defendant Crotteau “grabbed Balser’s 40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol … and shot the deer out of the passenger side window.”
Later investigation allegedly determined the deer was shot about 45 yards away from a home on the same property where the deer was shot.
In a later conversation with the owner of the property, the warden was told that no one except members of the landowner’s family were allowed to hunt on the property, and that he (the landowner) gave no one permission to discharge a firearm within 100 yards of his home.
The written statement went on to say Balser drove to defendant Goin’s home, dropped his children off there, then headed back with defendant Crotteau to retrieve the deer carcass.
The deer was hung in defendant Goin’s garage, where it was gutted, skinned and quartered, according to the statement. Two unborn fawns were in the carcass. The meat was later ground by defendant Crotteau at defendant Balser’s home, with the use of a grinder that belonged to defendant Goin. Most of the meat was stored in a freezer at defendant Balser’s home.
The warden later found two deer fawns in defendant Balser’s freezer, the complaint said.
At the time of the incident, defendant Crotteau’s hunting and fishing privileges had been suspended in 2012 because he hadn’t paid a fine for fishing without a license.