Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Break hunting laws: Fork over $8,100; it’s that simple

Five men from Van Wert and Putnam counties have been convicted and ordered to pay more than $8,100 in fines, court costs, and restitution in connection with deer hunting violations dating to 2009.

The main perpetrator was identified by state wildlife officers as Dale A. Linton, 32, of Van Wert. He and four others were sentenced in Van Wert Municipal Court, Lima Municipal Court, Auglaize County Municipal Court, or Paulding County Municipal Court, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Others found guilty in the case include Mark A. Medford, 31, of Van Wert, Gerald B. Craft, Jr., 46, of Delphos, Christopher S. Kraft, 35, of Fort Jennings, and Colin J. Westrich, 35, of Delphos.

A total of $8,188 was collected in fines, court costs, and restitution. In addition, 34 pounds of deer meat, two mounted deer heads, three skull mounts, a crossbow, and a compound bow were forfeited to the state.

Wildlife lawmen received a tip that Linton had killed five antlered deer in 2009. The legal limit for antlered deer is one a hunter per season. Four antlered deer were killed in Van Wert County and one was killed in Paulding County, before the 2009 deer gun season, authorities said, and two of the deer were never tagged or checked, as required by Ohio law. Two were tagged and checked in by other individuals, which is also a violation of the law. Linton tagged and checked one. All five bucks were killed with either a crossbow or a compound bow.

“It mostly was an opportunistic type of thing,” said Paul Kurfis, supervisor of law enforcement for Ohio Wildlife District 2. He said Linton is a farmer and landowner and on occasions took the deer while working fields. It took investigators considerable time to develop information and assemble the case, he added.

Linton was issued 15 citations (11 in Van Wert County and 4 in Paulding County). He was found guilty on 9 of the charges with 6 charges dismissed as part of a plea agreement. He paid $1,630 in fines and court costs and $5,618 in restitution, the latter under revised provisions of the Ohio Administrative Code.

Linton’s hunting and trapping privileges were suspended for three years in either Ohio or in any of more than 30 states in the interstate wildlife violator’s compact. He also was placed on three years probation and sentenced to 300 days in jail, though all of the jail time was suspended if there are no similar violations over the next three years.

Medford was found guilty of one count of failing to immediately tag a deer at the place where it fell. He paid $250 in fines and court costs.

Kraft, was found guilty of a deer processing records violation and for aiding a wildlife offender. He paid $270 in fines and court costs.

Craft was found guilty of tagging a deer killed by another and for providing false information to a check station. He paid $280 in fines and court costs.

Westrich was found guilty of purchasing a hunting license without completing a hunter education course. He paid $140 in fines and court costs.

Ohio Pro wins Erie Walleye tourney

Walleye pro Jeff Graves, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and co-angler Ed Szymczak, of Osceola, Ind., caught five walleyes weighing 34 pounds, 13 ounces to win the National Guard FLW Walleye Tour tournament on Lake Erie Saturday. Graves had a three-day catch of 15 walleyes weighing 117 pounds, 6 ounces. He won by 1 pound, 1 ounce over his closest competitor and took home $50,000 for his efforts.

“Day one and day two I pulled over 40 pounds both days and I knew I didn’t have 40 today. I thought we had about 32 pounds and we would be a little shy of Tom [Keenan] … I knew it was going to be a close match.” Graves said he and Keenan began the day fishing the same area but Keenan quickly got his limit and left. Graves said his last keeper didn’t come until about 11:30 a.m.

Graves said he caught the majority of his seven keepers Saturday on Reef Runner 800 Series deep-diving crankbaits. He added weather played a role in his fishing Saturday, noting that while a fog lingered on Erie most of the day, whenever the sun came out the fish turned on.

Keenan, of Hatley, Wis., turned in a three-day creel of 15 walleyes totaling 116 pounds, 5 ounces, winning $22,500 for second place. Danny Steffens, Oxford, Wis., entered a three-day creel of 14 walleyes at 106 pounds, 5 ounces for third-place money of $11,000.

A complete list of results can be found at Overall 42 walleyes weighing 270 pounds, 8 ounces were caught by 10 boats Saturday. The catch included seven, five-walleye limits.

  • The Huron Valley Sportfishing Club is set to meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the American Legion Post 200, 11800 Michael St. Taylor, Mich. Ron Levitan of Passin` Time Charters is to discuss trolling for Lake Erie Walleye. Nonmembers are welcome. For details e-mail Richard Montre at

Contact Steve Pollick at: or 419-724-6068

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