Over the Hill
District Game Warden Alan Howard
On a snow-covered day during deer season with visibility about 1.5 miles due to foggy conditions, I was patrolling along about 30-mph along a gravel roadway in the middle of nowhere crawling up a steep grade when I saw an average sized buck running towards my patrol vehicle from my right side.
Thinking it might run into my truck I had to step on the breaks and stop.
It narrowly missed the front of my vehicle as it jumped a fence, crossed the road and over the other fence.
I could see its tongue hanging out as it ran by and could tell it had been running for a while.
Now pulled over to the edge of the road, I continued to watch the buck as it went out of sight about 300-400 yards away as it ran into a draw.
As I started to drive to the top of the hill, I made it about two pickup lengths when I saw a small pickup sliding its tires trying to get stopped on the snow coming toward me.
The individual pulled over to his side of the road as he crested the hill seeing me.
I noticed there was a handicap parking sticker hanging from the mirror of his vehicle as I stepped out of my vehicle.
I started to speak with the individual in the pickup at his driver's door while he was sitting in his vehicle.
I asked him how he was doing, and he responded, "not very good, I think I just hit that buck that crossed the road.”
I said "you must have an antlered unit tag for the unit we were in.”
He pulled the tag out for me to see.
I asked him if he had just shot at the buck, and if he was hunting as we speak.
He told me he had shot at it back at my other farmyard about ½ mile away and was trying to see where it was going.
I pointed to where the buck had crossed the road behind my patrol truck, you could see the tracks in the snow.
I then said to him if he was in the process of hunting, where was his orange clothing required to be hunting deer.
The individual had a stunned look on his face, quickly looked around his vehicle, found no orange and said he must have left it in the other vehicle.
I could also see his rifle laying in the passenger seat, barrel to the floor and said, “while you are here, why don’t you pull the chamber back on your rifle to make sure it was unloaded.”
He started to pull the chamber back and I could see the brass of a shell coming out of the chamber when he stopped pulling it back.
I said, "you may as well pull it back all the way.”
A loaded cartridge came popping out, his finger slipped off the chamber and another fully loaded shell slammed back into the chamber.
He said, "crap, now I have another shell in the chamber.”
I said, "pull that one out too, so I don't have to write you for having two shells in the chamber.”
You could see the older gentleman was nervous and was excited at the same time.
He finally got his gun unloaded.
As I asked to see his hunting license, I said to him “we have a couple of problems here that we need to address. Which one do you want?”
He looked at me and said, "what do you mean?”
I said, “you can pick which citation should I write, but if you don't decide quick, I will write them both.”
He chose one and I wrote the citation he chose.
I verbally warned him on the second violation.
We looked at the tracks after and found no blood in the snow where it had crossed the road.
Hopefully it was a learning experience for him.
You just never know what is over the next hill.