The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 26, 2012

Pair nabbed for illegal hunting after decoys attract their attention

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO —  Four Department of Natural Resources officers had to wait in the dark for less than a half hour before a couple of deer decoys attracted a couple of targets earlier this month.

The officers were waiting out of sight near the intersection of Blue Earth County Roads 20 and 31 on Nov. 8. Sometime earlier two fake deer had been propped up in a field with permission from a land owner. The officers arrived in the area southwest of Lake Crystal around 9 p.m. It was about 9:30 p.m. when a vehicle caught their attention.

When the driver of the pickup aimed its headlights directly at one of the decoys, the officers moved in from two directions. They stopped the pickup as the driver attempted to leave quickly, according to a criminal complaint filed in Blue Earth County District Court.

Britten Kenneth Swanson, 20, of Northrup was in the driver’s seat when the truck stopped, the report said. Trevor Louis Wiederhoeft, 19, of Truman was in the passenger seat. One of the officers reported Swanson smelled like alcohol and appeared to have spilled liquid on himself when he was told to get out of the pickup. A preliminary breath test showed Swanson had a blood-alcohol concentration of .11, which is over the legal limit of .08 for driving.

An uncased rifle, ammunition, two spotlights and an open case of beer were found in the back seat of the pickup, the complaint said. A loaded magazine for the rifle, a metal baseball bat, loose ammunition, a flask and three cameras were found in the front portion of the truck.

“A freshly killed raccoon was also discovered in the bed of the suspect vehicle,” the complaint said.

Wiederhoeft told a deputy the two men decided to go “shining” and started out by looking for raccoons on his parents’ property. They eventually started driving the back roads while drinking and looking for more animals.

About a half hour before they were stopped by the DNR officers, the two men found a raccoon about 50 feet off a road. Wiederhoeft said he shined the animal while Swanson shot it.

“He also stated that after the animal was shot, it ran up on the road and Wiederhoeft used the vehicle to chase it down and run it over,” the complaint said.

The two men are scheduled to make their first court appearance Dec. 13 for gross misdemeanor charges of using lights to hunt and misdemeanor charges of hunting with a motor vehicle and underage drinking. Swanson also is facing a possible drunken-driving charge.