A 29-year-old man from Cedar Springs, Michigan, is facing several charges after state officials said he confessed to illegally shooting and abandoning multiple deer in Kent County to “relieve frustration.” According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, or the DNR, the man has been identified as Edward Trout.
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. While taking part in this illegal activity, he was often under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.
The DNR said that Trout had been doing this since 2020. Trout initially denied the allegations until he was shown text messages that he had sent that confessed to the crime. He then admitted to shooting at least five deers.
State officials said that they had received multiple tips regarding gunfire at night, as well as 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 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 relation to the deer incidents, but since he failed to appear for his June 3 court date, he has received two more charges for hunting snapping turtles with a spear. According to the DNR, they have received tips saying that Trout was hunting snapping turtles at Pine Lake in Cedar Springs.
The caller that sent in the tip said that Trout had been seen late at night fishing at Pine Lake, leaving multiple lines unattended, spearing snapping turtles. Turtle carcasses were found by conservationists, and resulted in Trout’s firearm, crossbow and “homemade spear” being seized.
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 on July 19.