NEWPORT CITY â€“ A Newport man will serve 29 to 30 days, eight hours a day, for attempting to take a big game animal with the aid of a salt lick.
Tuesday, Jan 17, Michael Bickford, 31, of Newport, entered a plea of guilty to the misdemeanor charge.
Last Nov. 17, Bradley Mann, from the Fish and Wildlife Department, received information that someone saw Bickfordâ€™s vehicle parked several times at an entry to his grandfatherâ€™s property. The person who called Mann said that acquaintances saw Bickford carrying what they believed to be bait from his vehicle to the property.
Two days after receiving the information, Mann went to the property and followed snow tracks that led him to a ladder stand with no name on it. Mann climbed the stand. From the seat, Mann saw a pile of red apples against the stump, in a direct line with the shooting position.
Mann returned to the area three times that day before seeing Bickfordâ€™s vehicle. Mann, with a camera and GPS in hand, followed the tracks that led him to the stand. Mann saw a man in the stand, looking in the direction of the bait pile. Mann approached the stand and identified himself. The occupant began to exit the stand and Mann took a picture of him coming down the ladder. The man identified himself as Bickford.
When asked, Bickford said he didnâ€™t have a firearm. Mann approached Bickford and saw a .45 caliber spent casing in between the two men and below the ladder to the stand.
As Bickford turned towards Mann, Mann saw the outline of what believed to be a handgun in the right front pocket of Bickfordâ€™s jacket. Mann tapped the pocket with the back of his left hand and confirmed it was a hard object, like a firearm. By pressing the fabric, it accentuated the outline of the object and re-enforced his belief that it was a semiautomatic handgun.
Mann asked Bickford about the item and Bickford started to reach for his pocket, at which point Mann told him to keep his hands clear. Mann opened the flap and extracted a handgun.
When questioned about the bait, Bickford turned and looked directly at it and then back towards Mann and said he wasnâ€™t hunting over bait. Mann headed towards the bait pile that appeared to be larger than earlier in the day. Mann also saw fresh boot tracks heading to the pile and back to the stand. When Mann asked about that, Bickford said his friend must have done it. Mann said Bickfordâ€™s footprints matched the ones by the bait.
The next day, Mann returned to the scene for further measurements and photographs. Mann concluded that nobody had been to the stand since the menâ€™s departure the evening before. Mann said deer had consumed the majority of apples. After removing the apples, Mann located a number of chunks of mineral salt, red in color, that had not been visible to Mann the prior evening. Mann photographed them and he collected one of the chunks as evidence.