A Cody man who shot a mule deer buck with a crossbow last November, and had attention drawn to the incident when the deer fled through downtown streets leaving a trail of blood, pleaded guilty for taking the animal out of season.
Leonard Wascher was fined $1,000 and lost hunting privileges for three years after the case was heard in Park County Circuit Court on Jan. 6.
The resolution of the unusual case was announced by Game and Fish last Friday.
“There was no ethics,” Game and Fish game warden Travis Crane said. “There was no sportsmanship. There was no reason for that.”
The incident began in the early morning of Nov. 14, when reports were made to Game and Fish as the wounded deer made its way through neighborhoods and into the downtown business district, shedding blood as it traveled.
Crane backtracked the deer from 20th Street and Sheridan Avenue to the yard of a home on Newton Avenue.
When Crane caught up to the animal he found an arrow was sticking out of its backside. He said it was in pain and suffering.
“I was upset about it,” Crane added.
He had to euthanize the deer and the investigation seeking a poacher began promptly.
People in the area were inter
viewed and soon after the department issued a statement drawing public attention to the incident. Other witnesses came forward with information about things they saw that morning.
“Some people were drinking coffee and looking out their window,” Crane said.
The suspect was brought in, interviewed and confessed, Crane said.
Crane called the incident “unique” because game violations occur in the wilderness, not in residential areas where people are more likely to glimpse developments.
Poaching in the wilderness is “absolutely” a much more common scenario, Crane said, “where no one sees anything.”
These kinds of arrests and sentences send a strong message to outdoor rule-breakers, he said, carrying the reminder financial penalties can be severe and hunting, fishing and boating privileges can be revoked.
“It just boils down to somebody making a mistake,” Crane said. “The judge recognized that. You just don’t get to do what you want.”
(Lew Freedman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)