A 23-year-old man from Chelsea is in jail in Marquette County after sabotaging a hunter’s tree stand, causing the hunter to suffer injuries after he fell out of the stand, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.
Thomas Steele III is serving a 60-day sentence for the crime, which he admitted to intentionally doing. The charges are misdemeanors of aggravated assault and hunter harassment under a plea agreement. Steele also must reimburse the hunter for medical expenses related to the fall from the tree stand. Additionally, he will serve a one-year probation term and have his hunter’s license revoked in Michigan and most other states.
“Hunter harassment is real and taken very seriously,” said Dave Shaw, chief of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. “Most hunters respect the land and each other and take pride in an ethical hunt.
“The DNR hopes that by sharing the details of this case, we can bring awareness to the consequences of this person’s unethical and dangerous behavior and know that it will not be tolerated.”
The DNR said the harassment took place in 2020 on state hunting land in Marquette County. Steele, then a student at Northern Michigan University, was upset about another hunter setting up in Steele’s spot. However, the DNR states that in Michigan, you cannot claim exclusive rights to a spot on public hunting land.
Steele left his phone number for the hunter, and the two argued for several weeks before Steele sabotaged the hunter’s tree stand. When the hunter climbed to the stand, which appeared intact, and stepped onto the platform, it broke and he fell 15 to 20 feet to the ground.
The hunter landed on his feet but injured his ankle and back.