A Big Piney hunter will serve jail time and pay thousands of dollars in fines after poaching a large, unique mule deer buck and then displaying the mount at a hunting expo.
Nathan Strong admitted to shooting the well-known non-typical mule deer buck out of season with a white-tail deer tag last year. The buck is called a non-typical because it had an unusual set of antlers.
Strong was sentenced Tuesday.
Sportsmen saw the animal mount displayed at the 2016 Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City, and realized it was the same one they had photographed near Pinedale after the hunting season. They reported the buck to Big Piney Game Warden Adam Hymas, said John Lund, Pinedale regional wildlife supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Residents in the Hoback Ranches area saw the deer almost daily, Lund said, even naming the animal.
Strong’s final sentence included a $10,000 fine with $5,000 suspended, along with another $4,000 in restitution. He will also lose his hunting and fishing privileges for seven years and serve up to 10 days in jail with one year of probation, Lund said.
Lund credits tips from the public for making this and other Game and Fish cases possible.
“We don’t have enough people in the field all the time to witness everything, so we rely on a good relationship from the public to give us information,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a tiny little tip that doesn’t seem like much but snowballs into a bigger case.”
Game and Fish is still looking for information on a handful of cases this fall including:
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Two bull elk and one calf were shot and left to waste Saturday or Sunday near Baggs in the Dexter Peak area. A yellow Polaris Razor with Natrona County license plates was seen nearby by other hunters.
A hunter shot and partially field-dressed a bull elk Oct. 4 south of Pinedale. Wildlife officials believe the hunter left the elk after he learned he was in a limited quota elk area, according to a news release. The suspect is about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds. He has dark hair and drives a blue truck with Sweetwater County license plates.
Someone killed a buck mule deer late Oct. 8 or early Oct. 9 south of Rock Springs and removed the deer’s head and back straps. The rifle season had not opened yet in that area.
A bull moose was killed illegally Oct. 6 or 7 along the Louis Lake Road outside of Lander.
Two pronghorn bucks were shot, beheaded and field dressed before being left to waste in mid-September along the Burbank Creek trailhead on the west side of Teton Pass. They were discovered Sept. 23.
Four big game animals were beheaded and skinned before being dumped in an alley between Sept. 24 and 25 on the 1500 block of Taft Avenue in Cheyenne.
A doe and fawn pronghorn were killed and left to waste Sept. 25 along Forest Service Road 726 south of Interstate 80.
Anyone with information on these or any wildlife violation may call the Stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847). Poaching information may also be texted; text keyword WGFD and message to TIP411 (847-411). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000 if the information leads to a conviction.