Sanders County poacher still wanted on bear-baiting charges


Montana wildlife officials say a man who writes a muzzleloader hunting blog remains wanted on several Sanders County warrants for killing a third black bear over bait in the state.

With nearly 4,000 Facebook followers, the hunting blogger appears to have moved to the Midwest’s Ozarks, according to recent posts from the self-made outdoors writer.

Alfred “Toby” Bridges — currently banned from hunting in 48 states — pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanor hunting violations last October in Sanders County Justice Court following a year-long investigation led by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Two convictions resulted for Bridges killing black bear over bait in Northwest Montana.

Another two resulted for his unlawful possession of the two bears, with two convictions for Bridges also killing and possessing a cow elk out of season.

He additionally pleaded guilty in October to shooting a white-tailed buck with someone else’s hunting license, as well as hunting over limit in taking the buck.

Bridges had already shot a buck during the 2020 general hunting season, according to FWP.

He was ultimately fined $9,605 for the violations and banned from hunting, fishing and trapping in Montana for 4 1/2 years.

Bridges’ guilty pleas additionally resulted in similar bans in all 48 member states of the Wildlife Violator Compact.

THE BLOGGER Writes the “North American Muzzleloader Hunting” website, having launched what he called a “forerunner” to the site in 2003.

With ads still present, posts to the website appear to have stopped by May 2019, although one indicates mlhunting.com was being rebuilt.

Bridges has since moved his work to a new web address.

Throughout the old site, a gray-bearded Bridges can be seen posing over dead bear, elk, deer and turkey — usually wielding a muzzleloader rifle.

He’s recently been posting on a related Facebook page, sharing writings from “Rogue Wildlife Management,” an additional website where he authors posts like “Of Wolves and Junk Science,” and “When Are There Too Many Black Bears?”

On Facebook, Bridges shares posts from his newer North American Muzzleloader Hunting website with a slight web address variation: namlhunt.com.

A Feb. 1 post, titled “You Can’t Go Home Again,” outlined his departure from Montana to his “old home town” of Worden, Illinois.

Illinois is a member state of the Wildlife Violator Compact that will honor Montana’s imposed ban.

Apparently dejected by Worden growth, however, Bridges wrote that he instead would move to southern Missouri or northern Arkansas, “where there are far fewer progressive liberals who are hell bent to turn America into a brain-washed society of freeloading Socialist Communists.”

Missouri and Arkansas are also member states of the violator compact.

Bridges later wrote in the Feb. 1 post that he ultimately signed a purchase agreement for a small cabin at an undisclosed location, planning soon to update his readership on the move.

“I made the move into the Rocky Mountains 15 years ago, thinking that those states would be the real hold-outs when the attempted ‘Communist-Socialist Takeover’ of this country stepped across the line” he wrote.

“Now … I feel the rebellion will begin right in the Heartland of America,” Bridges noted.

While admitting to killing at least two black bear over bait in Northwest Montana, Bridges pleaded not guilty to an additional two charges related to a third baited black bear kill.

He charges that failed to appear in court on the and remain wanted on several warrants, according to the FWP.

The department said Bridges used a variety of human foods to illegally bait bears while hunting, including barbeque sauce.

During a recent Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board meeting, local wildlife officials teased the admitted poacher for at least taking care to use organic honey as bait, which had been photographed as evidence and shared during the meeting.

Tips are encouraged at the agency’s 24-hour hotline, 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668). For information leading to a conviction, tipsters may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

The Inter Lake reached out to Bridges via an email address provided on his Facebook page. He did not respond.

Reporter John McLaughlin can be reached at 758-4439 or [email protected]

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