Updated: 05-10-2004 01:55:40 PM
FERGUS FALLS, Minn. (AP) - Donald "Babe" Winkelman, the TV
host and columnist who promotes Minnesota's outdoors life, will likely pay
a fine after being cited for allegedly using an illegal method to hunt
The Department of Natural Resources alleged that Winkelman
had illegal radio conversations with his wife and another person on Nov. 16
at Winkelman's hunting property in Corliss Township near Perham.
In a written plea petition, Winkelman, 55, entered what is
called an Alford plea, which allows him to concede that there is enough
evidence for a jury to convict him without admitting guilt.
Winkelman signed the petition April 23, Assistant County
Attorney Cherie Clark said Monday.
District Judge Wally Senyk reviewed the petition last week
and asked lawyers handling the case to make investigative reports an
official part of the record before he accepts the plea. Under the agreement,
the case would be dismissed after a year if Winkelman pays $200 and writes a
newspaper column about hunting ethics.
Winkelman's columns appear in nearly 60 magazines and more
than 450 newspapers, according to the Web site of Babe Winkelman Productions
Inc., and his syndicated TV shows, "Outdoor Secrets" and "Good Fishing" are
broadcast on Fox Sports Net, The Outdoor Channel and other stations.
The DNR's hunting and trapping manual says "using radio
equipment to take big game or small game is unlawful." Information officer
Scott Pengelly said such a technique goes against "the fair chase ethic."
Dennis Lang, the DNR officer who cited Winkelman, said he
received a tip that radios were being used by hunters near Perham, and he
went to the area to monitor radio frequencies. After listening to a number
of people coordinate a deer hunt using walkie-talkies, Lang said he located
Winkelman and gave him a citation.
Winkelman told his wife he would try to get deer moving in
her direction and told her to get into her hunting stand, Lang said.
Mike Fine, director of marketing for Babe Winkelman
Productions, said Winkelman was using the radio for
safety reasons - in part to stay in touch with his 81-year-old father. He
said he didn't intend to use it for an illegal deer hunting.
Fine said the law is open to interpretation among DNR
Lang, however, said it was clear to him when he listened
to the conversations that Winkelman broke the law.