New York Cuffs & Collars – May 17th, 2013

Deer jacking
(Steuben County)

On Oct. 20 while on patrol in the town of Dansville, ECO Brian Wade received a tip from a concerned citizen that a deer was possibly poached the week before at night. According to the caller, the untagged deer was located at a trailer in the town of Wayland and was poached in Dansville. Upon arrival at the trailer, Wade found a deer head of a small buck with a tag attached to it. This was contrary to the allegations made by the caller. Interviews of the trailer owner and residents yielded an admission that one of them knew Wade was coming and applied a tag that he found in the shed which was originally attached to that deer carcass. Wade traveled to Dansville and interviewed the shooter of the deer, who claimed to have taken it legally. That interview uncovered several lies by the owner of the trailer. Wade interviewed the multiple parties again and ultimately the taker of the deer. The shooter had told so many lies that he couldn’t keep them straight and ultimately revealed that he and another man had shot the deer at night by aid of a spotlight and bow. A full confession and subsequent confession by the co-defendant led to the animal carcass, meat and the bloody arrow in the field, which confirmed the story. The animal was seized and two men were charged with the deer jacking and various related offenses. In December 2012 at the town of Avoca Justice Court the shooter agreed to a civil compromise and paid a $605 fine on two charges. The co-defendant pleaded guilty to one violation and paid $275 in fines for possession of an unsecured bow and spotlight within a motor vehicle.

Illegal doe on state land
(Livingston County)

On Nov. 17 while patrolling Rattlesnake Hill WMA, Lt. Josh Ver Hague and ECO Brian Wade located an SUV parked well off the road in a fallow field. This in itself was a violation, but what piqued the officers’ attention was the untagged deer in the back of the SUV that was only partially field dressed. Through the rear window Wade saw the liver and the intact diaphragm. The two split up looking for the hunters and Wade brought them out. The hunter who shot the deer claimed it was tagged. Upon inspection it was found there was a tag under the deer but it was from the wrong area. In fact the WMU for this deer was two WMUs away from the one he used on the deer. The tag was also issued the night before the season at 6 p.m. Ultimately, all circumstances and admissions given showed the deer was shot illegally and a hasty job gutting the deer was done to simply get the deer hidden in the back of the SUV. Instead of running home with the illegally taken deer, the two hunters were greedy and headed back in to get another while they were in this productive spot. This has become a common occurrence in this particular WMU due to the limited number of deer management tags issued so close to other WMUs which have a high number issued. The man claimed to have hunted this area for almost 30 years, yet conveniently could not remember the WMU for the area on opening day. The deer was seized and the shooter issued a ticket for the unlawful taking of an antlerless deer without a permit. The case was heard in town of Ossian Court. The hasty-gutting hunter agreed to a $402.50 civil compromise for his illegal taking of an antlerless deer.

Young poacher
(Schuyler County)

In early December, ECO John Lifrieri received a few complaints of some youths poaching deer in the town of Hector. One complainant stated that one of the suspects had been posting photos of his trophies on Facebook. The complainant was interviewed and copies of the photos from the computer site were made. The youth posting the photos was tracked down. During an interview, he admitted to several offenses even before any specifics or the Facebook photos were mentioned. It was discovered the young man did not possess a valid hunting license; he stated that he could not afford one, but just “loved” to hunt and indicated he had been hunting almost every day. Based on the evidence and admissions, the young man was charged with hunting big game without a license, four counts of taking antlerless deer without a valid deer management permit and three counts of illegal taking of antlered deer. The investigation also revealed four violations related to small game and migratory bird hunting and the illegal taking of a merganser. Forest Ranger Bill Meehan assisted in the investigation and issued two tickets for the migratory bird violations. Approximately 175 pounds of venison from two separate locations were photographed, seized, and donated to Cooley’s Butcher Bay in the town of Catharine. Once properly processed, the venison is sent to the Elmira Food Bank for the Venison Donation Program. Based on the age of the hunter and his cooperation during the investigation, Lifrieri will be working with the hunter, town court and the district attorney’s office throughout the arraignment and penalty process. 

Illegal dumping
(Schuyler County)

On Dec. 5, ECO John Lifrieri was contacted regarding bags of garbage dumped on Fitzpatrick Hill Road in the town of Montour. The complainant found a coupon booklet from a local Bed, Bath and Beyond store that led to a nearby Montour address. Lifrieri recognized the address and realized he had already issued a written warning and secured a cleanup for a previous act of illegal disposal to one of the residents. Upon interviewing the individual from the previous case, Lifrieri was told the man’s nephew was the person responsible for taking the household garbage to Parmenter’s Disposal on Saturday mornings. Lifrieri next interviewed the nephew, age 20, who denied any wrongdoing. As Lifrieri revealed the facts and evidence of his investigation, the young man admitted dumping the debris on the way to Parmenter’s the previous Saturday morning. He stated he was in college, had just put his car on the road and wanted to save the disposal fees for himself. The suspect cleaned up the trash and properly disposed of same. He was charged with unlawful disposal of solid waste. His case was to be heard in the town of Montour Court.

Loaded gun in a motor vehicle
(Chemung County)

On Dec. 3 at about 11:30 p.m., State Trooper Saleryds stopped a vehicle with a headlight out. He observed three subjects in the vehicle. The passenger had a firearm along his right leg, while the ammunition magazine for the rifle was in the side door compartment. There was a flashlight at the passenger’s feet. The rear passenger was holding a spotlight. By this time, ECO Toni Dragotta had responded to assist. The trooper advised they had not been observed spotlighting and the gun had not been loaded. Upon further investigation, they found a loaded .223 rifle under a tarp in the back of the Jeep. Tickets were issued to one individual for possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, expired registration and no functional front headlight; another was charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; and a third was charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.

Missed buck, hit house
(Steuben County)

Lt. Pete Barton was notified by the Steuben County 911 center of a house trailer hit by a deer slug. Barton contacted the person at the trailer, a deer camp on the Ward Road. The caller, the son of the homeowner, reported finding a bullet hole through the front wall and a deer slug on the floor when he returned to the camp after hunting. The complainant reported hearing a shot from across the road at 4:20 p.m. (he checked his watch when he heard the shot) and he searched but was unable to locate any hunters in the area. Barton started the investigation early the next morning and by taking a compass bearing from the hole through the wall, tracking the line of the bullet trajectory to a treestand approximately 685 feet away. An empty 12 gauge shell casing was found at the base of the stand, and a piece of cardboard shell wadding was found along the line of the bullet trajectory. The landowner was located and interviewed, but said he did not know who may have been hunting the property the previous evening. He said he had been in the treestand earlier that day, but was out of the woods by 4:00 p.m. A sample of his ammunition (same as the shell casing found at the base of tree stand) was collected. The landowner also had three deer in his garage. Inspection revealed two had been improperly tagged and the tags were seized. Interviewing others in the area the night of the shooting, all evidence continued to point toward the property owner. Barton returned to the residence two nights later and conducted another interview, this time with the suspect’s wife also present.
Barton had earlier interviewed the wife, who indicated her husband had still been hunting when the trailer was hit. After hearing the evidence and the lieutenant’s suspicions, the suspect admitted he had just gotten out of his treestand when he noticed a 4- or 6-point buck along the edge of the woods and field. He took one shot but missed the deer; he estimated the time of the shot to be about 4:30 p.m. The shot would have been in the direction of Ward Road, the trailer, and where the lieutenant had recovered the piece of wadding. The suspect was charged with discharging a firearm over a public highway and failure to tag deer as required by law. His wife was charged with illegally lending deer tags to another. Both appeared in the town of Wayland Court and paid fines. The shooter will be subject to license revocation for shooting the house. He offered to pay to have the home repaired. 

Decoy shooter
(Steuben County) 

ECOs Dave Hulett, Ed Stull and Steve Farrand have the luxury of too many decoy locations and not enough time in the prime rural countryside of Steuben County. Setting up on Honey Run Road following complaints of road hunters, the officers were quickly rewarded for their efforts. Hiding just off the road to operate the decoy controls, Hulett observed the first truck by the setup stop exit the car and quickly raise his rifle and fire. Hulett yelled so the hunter would not shoot the decoy again. The suspect jumped back in the truck and as quickly as he could, and off he and his passenger went up Honey Run Road. Good planning saved the day as Stull was alerted by radio and waited around the first bend with all his vehicle lights flashing. As Stull approached the truck, he could observe two heads hung in shame, embarrassment, or both. Before Stull could say a word the driver said, "Yes, we did it, I can’t believe it was a decoy. Stupid wasn’t it?" Stull smiled and replied, "Yeah, I can’t disagree with that!” Tickets were issued to the shooter for discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, discharge of a firearm over a public highway, and possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle (both shooter and driver). Both men were to appear in the town of Hartsville Court.

Ten years worth of perks
(Livingston County)

ECO Brian Wade was given a biologist’s kill report of a button buck with a regular-season tag on it. This deer was being processed at a facility in Hunt. The tag was issued to a 16-year-old with a Rochester address. On Dec. 10, Wade went to the Rochester address to interview the young man about the antlerless deer with the regular-season carcass tag on it. The residents of that house told the ECO they have never heard of the person and they have lived there for approximately four years. Wade called the telephone number DECALS had listed for this person and got a man who was already saved to the contacts in his state phone. The man advised Wade that the person he was looking for was his grandson. The phone interview with Grandpa led to an interview of the father of the person who officer Wade was looking for. During the phone call he found out that both father and son were nonresidents but applied for resident licenses using the Rochester address as the residency. They both reside in Pittsfield, Mass. The father also admitted over the phone to shooting a deer illegally in Portage and putting a WMU 8H tag on it and listing the kill town as Avon. This man did not have a DMP for Portage WMA of WMU 9P.  Wade advised the man he needed to meet with them to conduct an interview regarding their deer take and the residency issues. The man made arrangements with Wade to meet the next day at the DEC’s Region 8 Avon office. The man traveled from Massachusetts to Avon early the next morning and met at the Avon regional office. The man gave a two-page voluntary statement to the illegal killing of two antlerless deer on Dec. 2 in the town of Portage. He recanted his original story about his son shooting a button buck and claimed to have illegally shot that deer as one of the two illegal deer from Dec. 2. He also confessed to having been bowhunting unlicensed on Nov. 10 on that same property. He illegally bought resident licenses for himself and his son. The man’s license was purchased on Nov. 15 at Wal-Mart in Geneseo and the son’s was purchased at the Portage town clerk’s office on Nov. 21. The man admitted he has been doing this for 10 years – buying resident licenses as a nonresident. After the investigation was completed Wade issued eight tickets to the man; two tickets for the illegal taking of antlerless deer, one for bowhunting without a license, two for the illegal purchase of resident tags as a nonresident, and three for hunting deer without a license on three dates during shotgun season. The case is pending in the town of Portage court.

You need a tag
(Steuben County) 

ECO Steve Farrand received a call from a complainant who stated he believed a subject had just shot a deer from a vehicle on property on the Steamtown Road. The complainant explained it was getting dark and he noticed a vehicle coming out of the woods. A minute later he heard the shot and saw a doe deer drop dead. Farrand met with the complainant and checked out the dead deer. Farrand suspected the shooter to be the neighboring farmer just down the road. The ECO went to the neighbor’s residence for an interview. he neighbor stated he had not been hunting, but his forester had been doing some work in the woods and might know something. Farrand contacted the forester to set up an interview. During the interview, he admitted to shooting at the deer, although he claimed he was not in his vehicle at the time. He thought he had made a clean miss so he did not follow-up his shot. He also stated that the landowner has DMAP permits that needed to be filled so he was trying to take an antlerless deer for that reason. If he shot a doe he would then go to the farmer’s garage to get the tag to put on the deer. Farrand explained the law regarding having the DMAP tags on his person while hunting and to tagging immediately upon taking. The complainant was advised of the results of the investigation and said he would be satisfied with a written warning for the shooting within 500 feet of his residence. The forester was ticketed for hunting a DMAP deer without possessing the tag and was allowed to tag and possess the deer.

Keeping it in the family
(Steuben County)

Steuben County ECOs were notified by the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department of a house on Pump Station Road in the town of Cameron just being shot by a hunter. ECOs Ed Stull, Steve Farrand, Dave Hulett, Lt. Pete Barton and Trooper Joe Livingston (a ride-a-long with Hullet) responded to the scene. A woman reported she and her granddaughter were sitting in the living room of her home when she heard glass breaking then saw pieces of glass going across the floor and her kitchen table. She knew there were hunters (many of them relatives) across the road. She went outside and yelled at them, then called 911. While Barton took a statement from the woman, the officers started the field investigation. A 16-gauge deer slug was removed from the inside of the residence and the bullet hole through the living room window was photographed. Twelve hunters were rounded up and it was determined four had discharged their firearms during the most recent deer drive. Sorting out the locations of the shooters and finding evidence of their shots (shell casings, waddings, bullet clips on brush and trees and the location of the two shot deer) it was determined one hunter (only hunter using a 16-gauge shotgun) fired the shot that crossed the road and hit the house. He admitted shooting twice as a deer crossed the power line he was standing on. Both his shots were in the direction of Pump Station Road and his cousin’s house. A 16-gauge shell wadding was found along the trajectory line between his shell casings and the house window. Farrand issued the shooter a ticket for discharging a firearm across a public highway. Several other hunters in the party received tickets for tagging and license lending violations. The shooter will be subject to license revocation for shooting the house. 

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