Game Wardens catch Fayetteville man illegally hunting with illegally owned rifle on state land

20 November 2023- It appears numerous PA Game Commission violations are the least of a Fayetteville man’s worries after he’s allegedly found in possession of a firearm he wasn’t allowed to have. Donald W Fickes is charged with felony possession of a firearm by a prohibited person as well as citations for taking/killing big game beyond limits, taking of game or wildlife, hunting without a license, use of a device or method prohibited by the Game Commission, use of artificial/natural bait, and violating rules and regulations of the Game Commission. Fickes is behind bars on $50,000 bail.

Game Wardens in Pennsylvania were initially made aware of an illegal hunting operation in April of 2023 when a trail camera was found and later seized in an illegally baited area of the Michaux State Forest in Franklin Twp, Adams County. The camera was discovered about 50 yards behind the nearly half-acre property where a number of members of the Fickes family lived. The seized camera’s SD card reportedly showed these family members setting it up.

On October 18th, Wardens went into the forested area behind the Fickes property in the Michaux State Forest and reportedly found a structure that appeared to be a game blind. This was found where the Wardens say they previously found the illegal camera. Between the blind and Fickes’ curtilage, Wardens reportedly found a mineral block and other grain-mineral baits, which are illegal.

On November 16th, Wardens approached the area again and found a man now known to be Donald Fickes Jr sitting at the base of a large tree a few feet away from the metal blind and wearing camouflage. Crucially, Wardens say that Fickes had a rifle in his hands, which was later found to be a Marlin Model 25, bolt-action rifle chambered for .22 caliber Winchester Magnum.

Fickes reportedly stood up, began quickly walking away from the Warden and towards his home, and placed the rifle against a tree. That rifle was found to be loaded with one in the chamber.

Wardens say they showed Fickes where they had previously found the salt bait as well as there now being apples near where the trail cam was. Fickes, however, allegedly told the Warden that he was attempting to out-of-season hunt groundhogs in the forest rather than a field.

Wardens make an important note in their court filings, saying that “Donald Fickes, DOB 11/01/1982, having been convicted of the crime of conspiracy to commit robbery, a 2nd degree felony, and having been convicted for violating The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act…. in which Fickes’ case graded as a felony, categorizes him as a person not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell, or transfer firearms.”

Donald Fickes is behind bars on $50,000 bail. His preliminary hearing is set for November 28th.

Sources: Docket Number: MJ-39304-CR-0000310-2023, Incident No.: 2023 00090000