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FWP issues citations for hunting violations

| December 12, 2006 11:00 PM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

A 17-year-old boy from Troy was fined $9,070 for putting his girlfriend's hunting tag on a trophy buck, according to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.

In related matters from the fall hunting season, FWP cited five people for road hunting after they allegedly shot at a life-size mechanical deer.

Officials also cited an adult and at least seven juveniles in connection with illegally killing a moose and 21 deer in the Libby area.

"The kid in Troy shot a really nice whitetail buck and put someone else's tag on it," said Jon Obst, game warden in Libby and Troy for FWP. "It turned out to be a trophy class whitetail."

The boy, who was not named because he is a juvenile, killed the 5x5 buck on the Nov. 26 - the last day of the five-week general hunting season, Obst said.

"He already filled his tag and had taken his girlfriend out," Obst said. "If she had shot it, it would've been perfectly legal."

The deer scored a 163 on the Boone and Crockett scale, which is an official measurement and scoring system for trophy big game. For comparison, the record typical whitetail for Montana taken in 1974 in Missoula County scored a 199 3/8.

A rumor about the deer being killed illegally led to an investigation, and the boy confessed, Obst said.

The deer will go to the state and may end up in a wildlife museum planned for Troy. The community received an anonymous $70,000 donation to build the museum in Roosevelt Park. Construction could begin in the spring.

Game officials also this hunting season used a deer decoy to catch five road hunters in Libby, Troy and Yaak, Obst said. Hunters who spot a deer from the roadway can shoot it as long as they are off the road.

The robotic deer looks real; its head and tail move.

"We only use it when we get numerous complaints from landowners or people in outlying areas hear shots being fired," he said. "We put it out to reinforce the fact they can't shoot on private land without permission and it's illegal to shoot from the roadway."

The deer is placed within sight of the road, and game officials watch nearby for violators.

All five shot the decoy from the road, Obst said.

"They would get out and shoot from the back (of the vehicle), or put it (the gun) over the hood or tailgate," he said.

Four were fined $385; the fifth was fined $535 for also having an untagged deer. A $50 portion of the fine goes for repairing and replacing decoys.

"We're just looking for people who might be really good hunters, but just have a lapse in judgment," Obst said.

As for the moose and 21 deer, FWP began its investigation after someone reported finding a dead moose off the Haul Road in the Libby area before the hunting season. It had been shot.

"We found other carcasses in the same area," he said.

The investigation led to the arrest of seven juveniles ranging from 15 to 17 years old and an adult. They were charged with unlawful possession of game and hunting out of season. Fines ranged from $2,000 to $9,000, and the juveniles lost hunting privileges until they turn 18.

The deer were primarily does and most were left in the woods.