May 13, 2022 |
Two Missouri men found guilty of poaching a mule deer last October off Rattlesnake Pass Road lost their hunting privileges and were ordered to pay several thousand dollars worth of fines and penalties.
Elk Mountain Game Warden Jake Miller apprehended the men a after they shot a trophy deer around 10 a.m. on October 20, 2021. Rifle season was closed. Miller said he was tipped to the illegal take by a rancher who spotted the pair harvesting the deer.
When the game warden caught up to them, the slaughtered animal was in the back seat of their pickup. Miller had caught the men, literally red handed, committing a crime—violating Wyoming State Statute 23-3-102.
The Medicine Bow and Saratoga game wardens assisted Miller. They arrested the men, identified as 23-year-old Nathan Hicks and 22-year-old Dakota Walker. Both are from Missouri. Neither of the men are connected with the recently concluded corner crossing case which occurred in the same area earlier that month involving four other Missouri hunters.
Miller said the investigation into the two out-of-state poachers turned up other crimes they had committed against Wyoming wildlife. The evidence was found on their cell phones, which were seized along with the truck during the arrest.
According to circuit court documents filed January 28, Hicks was convicted of Illegal Take of Antlered Big Game. Walker was convicted of being an accessory. The two were ordered by Judge Susan Stipe to share in the payment of $4,000 in restitution and other fines amounting to around $820 each.
Hicks’ hunting privileges in Wyoming were revoked for five years. Walker’s hunting privileges were revoked for two years.
Judge Stipe found Hicks guilty of harassing wildlife by shooting from the road. The judge ordered Hicks to pay $450 in fines and to forfeit the Weatherby rifle he had purchased in Saratoga prior to the hunting violations.
Both men pled guilty to all the charges.
The court suspended Hicks’ 28-day jail sentence and placed him on one year unsupervised probation with provisions, which include abstaining from alcohol and drugs. Walker also received a suspended jail sentence with similar provisions. Each received credit for the two days they served in county jail after their arrest.
Game Warden Miller said the men’s hunting privileges are suspended across the nation, not just Wyoming. He summed up the incident this way.
The court proceedings began in December. The last filing was dated April 7th. According to the court documents, the men have six months to pay their fines as they serve their probation.