The Trempealeau County over-bagger took to the water early and alone. Shielded by silence, the man caught blue gills day-after-day from Pool 4 of the Mississippi River near Alma.
After careful preparation, the filets were placed in his freezer with other carefully prepped bags of wild turkey meat from eight birds he harvested during the 2012 spring season. Six of those birds would be found to be illegal.
Had it not been for absolutely unreliable luck on the part of one warden on patrol on the Tuesday morning after Labor Day, the taking of too much of the natural resources from this western Wisconsin area likely would still be taking place. The man, Brenton Enos, had more than 200 bluegill over his possession limit at his residence. This was on top of the meat taken from the six illegally harvested turkeys.
None of the fish or turkeys was going to be wasted, Enos told Wardens Bob Jumbeck of Buffalo County and Robin Barnhardt of Trempealeau County. Yet, the amount said something else. “This was a matter of not playing fairly on the part of Enos,” Jumbeck said. The possession laws are written to ensure there are enough resources for others — and that the resources are sustained.”
The Trempealeau County Circuit Court judge agreed and on January 22 accepted the no contest pleas from Enos, 63, of Eleva, to the charges of possessing 76 percent or more over the legal limit of fish and for possession of untagged turkey. Enos was fined about $1,000 for the violations. One firearm was confiscated along with the fish and turkeys. Also, the court revoked Enos’ hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for three years.
This case started the Tuesday after Labor Day when Jumbeck simply pulled over in his warden truck at a public boat landing to do some paper work. Shortly after arriving, he observed a lone individual approach the landing by boat. It was early to be coming in, Jumbeck thought as he decided to go and have a chat with this early riser.
“I see he had quite a few fish,” Jumbeck said of his observation that morning. He counted the man’s total take and counted two over the bluegill limit. They had a conversation and the next stop was the man’s home. “He was cooperative. And he knew there would be an end result.”
Jumbeck said this was not a one-day, over-bagging operation. “This was a day-after-day scenario,” he said. “We don’t want to see someone take advantage of our natural resources in that way. There are law-abiding citizens who are doing their part to protect the resources.”
“The warden’s job is to protect the resources – and we need the public’s help as partners,” Jumbeck said. “I found this man by sheer luck. That was it. Citizens must know they can help us protect their resources by reporting suspected violators.” Many times these type of violations go unnoticed due to the quiet nature of the activity.
“This was gross over-bagging on both fronts – the bluegills and the turkeys. Citizens have a stake in these kinds of cases because it hurts all of us in the end.”