Deer illegally shot near Carbondale
November 7, 2005
A man who illegally killed a buck off Prince Creek Road near Carbondale Saturday could face more severe charges under Colorado’s Samson law.He also could face the wrath of residents upset over the shooting of a trophy-sized deer near their homes.”He’s just a jerk,” said Prince Creek Road resident Valerie Harriman. “We will find this man, and we will prosecute him. We are really, really, really angry.”However, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has few leads to go on in searching for the animal’s killer. John Groves, DOW district wildlife manager in Carbondale, said the agency doesn’t have a good description of the hunter. Officials know he was driving a white truck and had a four-wheeler.”I’ve been trying to track down some leads, but there’s a lot of white trucks … with four-wheelers in them, so right now progress is pretty slow with that one,” he said.The animal was killed around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Groves said the man shot off the road onto a hillside, and a resident saw the shooting and yelled at him. He replied that he was firing at a coyote and left the scene.Groves said it’s illegal to hunt from a public road. It’s not clear if the man was on the road, but if he wasn’t he was hunting illegally from private property, Groves said.He said the shooter could face felony charges if arrested.Under Colorado’s Samson law – named for a trophy-sized elk killed illegally – the shooter could face an automatic $10,000 fine on top of the normal fine and surcharges totaling about $1,000 for shooting the deer illegally, Groves said.The shooter also could face jail time for willfully destroying the animal and not trying to retrieve the carcass, he said.The deer qualified as a trophy-class animal because the widest distance between its two antlers was 23 1/2 inches – above the required 22-inch threshold. Groves said he believes the antlers had six points on one side and seven on the other.Groves said the DOW probably will keep the deer’s head as evidence and donate the carcass for meat for a needy family.Groves said he arrived on the scene about 10 minutes after the shooting and the deer was dead.”He dropped right there in his tracks; he didn’t move at all,” Groves said.Residents had reported the shooter might have had Utah license plates, but Groves said there’s no conclusive proof of that. He said a motor home in the area around the time of the shooting was from Utah, but he said he doesn’t think its occupants were involved. They had been parked there for several hours repairing a vehicle, he said.Harriman said the neighborhood where the shooting occurred has signs saying “No Hunting,” but she will be putting up more of them.”Apparently some of these people are too stupid to understand no is no,” she said. “I can’t imagine being that stupid. It’s not like it’s not posted, and it’s not like it’s not residential.”I’m very upset, because that’s not sport; that’s not hunting first of all, and second of all it’s against the law,” she said.She also is worried about the safety of area residents.”We have babies, we have dogs, we have animals, we have all sorts of things,” she said.She said she hopes publicity about the shooting might deter the next person who contemplates hunting illegally in the area, even if it doesn’t lead to the arrest of the shooter.With a lack of snow to push game down to lower elevations, hunting has been slow this year, and Groves said that might have contributed to the illegal shooting.”A big buck out there, it just tempted somebody, they thought they could get away with it,” he said.But he said most hunters are obeying the law this hunting season. That, too, may have something to do with the relatively poor hunting results up to now.”It’s kind of hard to break the law when they’re not finding anything to shoot at,” Groves said.