The landowner and one of the hunters involved in a viral duck hunting confrontation have been charged with class A and B misdemeanors, according to court documents obtained by MeatEater.
Jeffrey Erman, the landowner seen in a recent video berating a group of hunters, has been charged with trading in special influence, disorderly conduct, and interference with the rights of hunters.
Dustin Wolf, the hunter who obtained permission to hunt the property, has been charged with criminal trespass.
The charges stem from an incident on Oct. 21 that was caught on video and now viewed 1.7 million times. In the video, Erman drives up to a group of hunters and screams at them for “messing up” his hunt and claims they are trespassing on his land.
The hunters respond that they obtained permission to hunt the bean field, and their blind and decoys are set up in that field. Erman acknowledges that he does not own the bean field but continues to yell and curse at the hunters, driving back and forth in his ATV and scaring away the ducks.
Eddy County State’s Attorney, Ashley L. Lies charged Erman with “interference with the rights of hunters” because he “intentionally interfered with the lawful taking of wildlife,” according to a criminal complaint.
“The Defendant continually drove his ranger past them, stopping several times to yell at them and scream profanity laced statements,” the complaint reads. Lies notes that Erman waited until several ducks had landed within shooting distance before driving his ATV up to the property line and shouting, “YAHOO! We’re hunting ducks!”
The “trading special influence” charge stems from statements Erman made about being friends with the local game warden, James Myhre. The complaint alleges (and the video proves) that Erman first threatened to get Myhre to give the hunters tickets and then offered to “call off the game warden” if the group agreed to pay him $300.
“The Defendant did knowingly offer and agree to accept a thing of pecuniary value for exerting special influence upon a public servant with respect to his legal duty or official action as a public servant,” the complaint reads.
Erman was additionally charged with disorderly conduct for “harassing and alarming the hunters” by screaming profanities at them, including “assholes, fucking democrats, dumb fuckers, mother fuckers, and fucking dickheads.”
The sworn statement from game warden Myhre also claims that in the full, unedited video of the incident, Erman used “the N-word in a derogatory manner when yelling at the hunters.”
Myhre admitted charged that he could not determine without a legal survey whether the group was hunting on Jeff Erman’s land, but Wolf was still with criminal trespass because, according to the complaint, he violated the agreement he had with the owner of the bean field, Grant Erman.
Grant Erman’s son, Matt Erman, granted Wolf permission to hunt the bean field, but he instructed Wolf to “stay away from Jeff Erman’s land if they didn’t also have permission to hunt his land.” Matt Erman also said that he did not give Wolf permission to hunt the property line, and he would never have given them permission if he knew where they intended on hunting.
“I just wanted to take my grandpa and great uncle hunting like I have the last few years,” Wolf told Meateater. “He’s one of the biggest influences in my life and one of the few that got me into waterfowling. It’s sad that this situation has come to what it has.”
Jeff Erman has not spoken to the press, but his son, Dustin Erman, confirmed to local media that the group was “told to stay away from that area.” Dustin Erman also claimed that the hunters “edited out every single thing they said to provoke that farmer to get to that point.” Myhre said he reviewed the entire one-hour, six minute video, and he makes no mention of the hunters provoking Jeff Erman.
Dustin Erman did not respond to a MeatEater request to clarify his statements. He also refused to provide examples of landowners who have denied hunters’ permission based on this incident. He claimed in his interview with local media that landowners are denying hunting permissions because “they do not want to be in the next video.”
Trading in special influence is a class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 360 days in prison, a $3,000 fine, or both. Erman’s two additional charges, as well as Wolf’s, are class B misdemeanors, which carry a maximum penalty of 30 days in prison, a $1,500 fine, or both.
Erman and Wolf both have initial court appearances set for 9 am Thursday, Nov. 10, in New Rockford, North Dakota, court records show.