Drive-by deer hunting -- Michigan man reportedly admits to killing deer from vehicle to ‘relieve frustration’

Wildlife crimes can be reported anonymously through the Report All Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 3:45 PM EDT
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WILX) - A 29-year-old man from Cedar Springs is facing several charges after state officials said he confessed to illegally shooting and abandoning multiple deer in Kent County.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Edward Trout had confessed to, “driving around at night, listening to music and occasionally shooting his pistol into vacant fields from his pickup truck,” in order to relieve frustration. Authorities said this often happened while he was under the influence of alcohol and/or marijuana.

The DNR said Trout had a history of driving around at night and shooting deer from his vehicle since 2020. Authorities said he initially denied the allegations until he was shown a series of text messages where he openly told people about his illegal activities, then he admitted to shooting at least five deer.

State officials said since January, they received eight tips regarding gunfire at night and deer carcasses found in Nelson and Spencer townships. Conservation officers said they found 13 deer in February that appeared to have been shot from the roadway. An anonymous tip reportedly informed the DNR of rumors of Trout driving around and shooting deer from his vehicle over three nights.

Authorities said Trout had initially faced three charges in connection with the deer incidents, but since he failed to appear for his June 3 court date, he has gained two more charges for reportedly hunting snapping turtles with a spear. According to the DNR, a new tip came in June 7 that alleged Trout had been spearing turtles at Pine Lake in Cedar Springs.

The caller said Trout had been seen fishing late at night, leaving multiple lines unattended, spearing snapping turtles and the carcasses along the shore. DNR conservation officers said they had found multiple dead turtles near the lake -- including one with a spear still in it -- and seized Trout’s firearm, crossbow and “homemade spear.”

In Michigan, snapping turtles can be harvested from July 15-Sept. 15 using a trap or a hook and line.

Authorities said he had speared the snapping turtles out of concerns for his children’s safety.

On Friday, Trout pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges -- two counts of hunting and fishing without a license, taking game from a vehicle, taking deer out of season and using illegal fishing devices.

“We’re grateful for the concerned community members who reported the many dead, gunshot deer that were discovered throughout these communities, which helped officers identify a suspect,” said DNR Law Enforcement Chief Dave Shaw. “The suspect has continued to display repetitive, unethical behavior while stealing public trust resources and allowing them to go to waste.”

Trout faces jail time, reimbursement to the state for illegally taken wildlife, court costs and losing his hunting and fishing privileges. He is expected to return to court July 19.

Anyone with information about wildlife crimes can anonymously contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s Report All Poaching hotline by calling 1-800-292-7800 or by using the online reporting form on its official website here.

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