A dump truck full of sugar beets and few trailer loads of corn, that’s apparently the amount of bait one Michigan man felt he needed to successfully lure whitetails to his hunting stand. That man, Dexter James Sysak, 40, was subsequently charged for exceeding Michigan’s baiting regulations last fall and was sentenced last month for the incident.
As tips came in through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Report All Poaching hotline, conservation officer Joseph Myers had to see it for himself. As Myers and fellow officers investigated the property the following day, they found one of the most egregious baiting operations they had ever laid eyes on.
“Sysak had taken a dump truck of sugar beets and two dump trailers of corn and placed them on his hunting property,” said Michigan Conservation Officer Joseph Myers, who investigated the case. “The actual measure of bait was impossible to count but was estimated at two-and-a-half tons.”
Gaining access to the property owned by Sysak via a county road easement, the officer was astounded by the sheer amount of both corn and sugar beets placed in the area and eventually found the blind used by the prospective hunters in the area.
With no one in the blind on day one, Myers decided to return the following day with hopes of running across the individual or individuals responsible for the excessive baiting operation. As he approached the property the following day, a truck was parked on site and he soon found four individuals inside the hunting blind.
After an initial Q&A with Sysak, Myers determined the bait had been placed there for some time and managed to coax a confession out of the suspect.
“Sysak also admitted to me that he had taken a 9-point buck over the illegal bait, making it an illegal deer,” Myers said. “I seized evidence and cited the suspect.”
Myers went on to locate the animal at a local processing facility and seized the meat and antlers from the deer. The meat was donated to local families in need.
In an Ithaca courtroom in late April, Sysak was found guilty by the panel of jurors on charges of an over limit of bait, failing to wear hunter orange and taking a deer by an illegal method. Admitting to using a dump truck to place the bait in a J-shape around his hunting blind, Sysak was sentenced to a 45-day jail term, was fined approximately $15,0000 and was ordered to serve 90 hours of community service to the DNR after his jail sentence is served. Sysak was also banned from all DNR activities during his 2-year probation term. All sport license privileges were revoked through 2022.
In the state of Michigan, bait refers to any substance composed of grains, minerals, salt, fruits, vegetables, hay or other food materials for the purpose of enticing or luring deer as an aid in hunting. Baiting is illegal in a handful of counties in the state and for those counties that allow baiting, hunters are only able to place bait between September 15 – January 1 of each year and the volume of bait cannot exceed two gallons.