Oklahoma Deer Poaching Starts Earlier Than Usual
NOWATA COUNTY, Oklahoma - Oklahoma game wardens deal with deer poachers every year, but they say they're seeing them earlier than usual this season.
A man who wardens say recently poached a deer gave a full confession for what he did, but other cases are unsolved.
On private land north of Delaware in Nowata County is where one buck lived for about the last five years.
Hunter Michael Moreland always knew it was around, and had his eyes and camera set on him this bow hunting season.
"He was gonna feed his family with this meat. And this was a really large deer," said David Clay, Oklahoma game warden.
Clay got a call from the landowner this week and saw the picture of what a poacher left behind.
"Every time we find one that the head's been cut off and left to waste, it's pretty sickening," Clay said.
Clay found the arrow it was shot with and it led to a suspect who confessed to what he did.
"That he'd killed the deer and cut the head off of it. Told me he was trespassing," Clay said.
But not every case is solved so easily and they're not all out in the woods.
In the southwestern part of the state in Harmon County, a game warden is looking for whoever shot three deer with a rifle from the road.
For Clay, the poaching problem is starting a little earlier than in years past.
"My calls are really picking up and I'm starting to get really busy," Clay said.
As for Michael, he probably would have mounted the antlers.
"Nine points on one side and 15 on the other," Clay said.
His wife said they lost every one of his mounts to a house fire in May.
"This poacher took that away from him," Clay said.
Now, Clay said the antlers will go to Oklahoma City, where they'll be part of a poaching education program with the wildlife department.
The game warden said he won't be releasing the poacher's name, because he's waiting for the case to be filed with the district attorney's office.
He did cite the poacher three times. He could have to pay about $8,000 in fines.