A robotic mule deer named Bucky helped Idaho conservation officers nab four Oregonian hunters who ventured into Idaho and fired at the decoy out of season, Fish and Game regional educator Evin Oneale said in a prepared statement.
“We had reports last year that one or more Oregon groups were slipping into Idaho prior to the mule deer season opener and poaching deer,” Conservation Officer Craig Mickelson said. “We held onto that information and used it this year to bring these individuals to justice.”
During the last week of September, Mickelson and his team set up the robot deer just east of the Oregon-Idaho border in remote Owyhee County. On the morning of Sept. 28, Oneale said, four Oregonians stopped their vehicle near the decoy. One of the occupants got out of the truck and fired six shots at the decoy.
Conservation officers confronted the suspects and issued 13 citations, including three connected to a mule deer buck illegally poached earlier that morning. Authorities seized the deer and two hunting rifles.
The next morning, officers set up the robot deer along Palmer Creek, where a 65-year-old Oregon man encouraged his 8-year-old grandson to shoot at it. The man was cited for hunting without an Idaho license and hunting without a deer tag. The child was not charged. One rifle was seized as evidence.
All five suspects will face trial in Owyhee County.
Anyone with information regarding poaching is asked to contact Citizens Against Poaching — or CAP — at (800) 632-5999. Callers can remain anonymous, and information leading to an arrest and conviction may be worth a cash reward.