Franklin County hunter accused of illegally baiting deer on state game lands

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)– A Franklin County man was charged with illegally baiting and hunting in Michaux State Forest, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

In May, a trail camera was found and seized in an illegally baited area 50 yards from Fickes’ property along Black Gap Road, investigators say. Later in October, another illegally baited area with a hunting blind was found.

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According to the complaint, Donald Fickes, 41, of Fayetteville, was found a few feet away from the hunting blind, holding a rifle and dressed in camouflage. He immediately started walking to his home when game warden agents approached him, and set the rifle, a Marlin model 25. bolt-action, along a tree.

Fickes said he was hunting groundhogs, but investigators say the wooded area and season were not ideal for groundhog hunting. The bait that was also found is commonly used for deer.

Fickes also did not have a hunting license, and has prior criminal convictions for felonies so he is not allowed to possess a firearm, the complaint notes.

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In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to hunt without a license, to put bait in a state forest to hunt wildlife, and it was archery season, meaning that only bow and arrows or a crossbow can be used to hunt.

Fickes, of Fayetteville, faces a felony charge of prohibited possession of a firearm, along with multiple summary counts of taking or killing big game beyond season/daily limits, use of artificial/natural bait, taking/possessing big game or wildlife, among other charges.

Fickes is currently locked up in Franklin County Jail, unable to post his bail set at $50,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28.

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