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DNR probes origin of 25-point bagged buck

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
DNR Michigan

Oh, dear: A 25-point buck bagged by a hunter in Osceola County last week may have been an escapee from a deer farm.

Frank Schmaltz, of LeRoy, shot the deer Thursday with a crossbow not far from his home, according to media reports. LeRoy is about 200 miles northwest of Detroit, between Reed City and Cadillac.

Schmaltz could not be reached for comment.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials confirmed the deer's point size, spokeswoman Katie Keen said Tuesday.

"The deer had an ear tag and the hunter knew that meant it was an escaped deer from a facility," she said. "So he brought it to a deer check station and that's how we were able to confirm its point size."

The DNR has more than 60 deer check station across the state. It has one that serves Osceola County in Reed City.

Station staff record information about when and where deer are harvested, the sex of the deer and information about antlers, if any, Keen said.

She said DNR law enforcement officers are investigating the facility from which the deer escaped.

"There are wild deer in Michigan and deer raised on private facilities, which are regulated," she said. 

Under state law, such facilities must be registered, they must have 10-foot-tall fences, and each animal must have two tags on them.

If one of a facility's animals escapes, the owner is required to call and report it to the DNR within 48 hours of discovering it was released, according to the law.

However, Keen said it is legal for hunters to harvest deer that escape from a facility outside of the property.

Michigan has several deer hunting seasons, beginning with bow and crossbow hunting, which starts Oct. 1 through Nov. 14. Regular firearm deer hunting begins Wednesday and ends Nov. 30.

Last year, an estimated 585,994 people spent 8.2 million days pursuing deer during the hunting season, according to the DNR. It also estimates hunters harvested about 348,000 deer in Michigan. Officials estimate hunters spend $2 billion on trip-related expenses and equipment in the state.