2018-02-08 / Courts

County woman pleads no contest to hunter harassment; feels ‘hunted’

By Jason Bushen
of the Enterprise staff

The attorney representing a Cleveland Township woman who pleaded no contest to hunter harassment says that she is now feeling “hunted.”

Mary K. Eschbach, a retired preschool special education teacher who in November was caught on video scattering a man’s bait pile on commercial forestland in Maple City, pleaded no contest on Jan. 30 to interfering with another’s hunt. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and fines of $500 to $1,000.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 27.

“All I can tell you is, for her wellbeing, she has to plead no contest,” said Grant Parsons, a Traverse City attorney. “She feels hunted.”

Parsons said threats of physical and sexual violence were made on social media after a three-minute video of Eschbach went viral on Facebook.

The video originally appeared on the O’Neil Hunting Adventures Facebook page but was deleted for “distasteful comments.” It later garnered more than 300,000 views after making its way to the Michigan Buck Pole and Michigan Out-of-Doors TV pages, which combined are home to more than 292,000 followers.

“That Internet thing is just like a mob,” Parsons said. “This fellow has put this out there for 300,000 people. I don’t how he got that many people to look at that thing, but if you look at what’s on there, it’s scary. She’s got to get out of this thing and get done with it.

“Someone opened her mailbox and ripped all her mail in half. She reported that to the post office and they say they can’t do anything about it.”

Parsons also took issue with the handling of the case itself. He said a conservation officer and a Leelanau County Sheriff’s deputy each gave Eschbach a warning before Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich, a former conservation officer, became involved.

Then, Parsons said, she was charged with a misdemeanor.

“It was a clear-cut hunter harassment case, and I worked with the prosecutor’s office to guide them through what that law’s about,” Borkovich said.

The video clearly shows Eschbach swearing at a hunter at his tree stand while kicking at a pile of deer food.

Parsons criticized the hunter harassment law itself, saying “a person can’t even walk in the woods if a hunter’s there because it’s called harassment.”

The incident took place in a popular walking area, Parsons said.

Regardless, Parsons said he’s concerned for the well-being of his client.

“My heart goes out to her,” he said.

Eschbach, according to a 2014 story in the Enterprise, has been known to publicly protest.

She once took part in a protest that coincided with a performance of the Blue Angels at the National Cherry Festival in which performers pretended to get killed each time aircraft passed overheard. Additionally, she was once detained briefly after a “guerrilla theater” performance at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

Return to top