Poaching probe nearly results in armed encounter
A search Saturday for poachers allegedly using spotlights to illegally target out-of-season deer resulted in a brief confrontation at gunpoint, according to monitored radio transmissions.
A bow hunter heard a gunshot near him and called 911. Dispatchers referred him to game warden Evan Deneke.
Deneke was on duty in Harper County, so he notified the sheriff’s office.
Deputy Joel Womochil began looking around 6:20 p.m. for a group of hunters carrying lights along Xavier Rd. south of 80th Rd.
After calling for backup from deputy Matt Regier and Peabody officer Kaitlin Brunner, Womochil radioed dispatchers at 6:55 p.m.: “I have one at gunpoint.”
Moments later, he reassured dispatchers that there was no problem.
“It was another of the neighbors coming in to help,” he reported.
Deneke said the bow hunter who had heard the gunshot had asked others to help find the illegal shooter. Gun hunting season is over, and hunting by shining spotlights never is legal.
Within half an hour, Womochil reported finding evidence of hunting.
“We located the deer carcass, where they took its head,” Deneke said.
Poachers apparently killed the deer only for its trophy head and had no interest in its meat.
Womochil photographed the scene and relayed information to Deneke for follow-up.
Deneke said he later seized the deer carcass and gathered evidence that would be needed if a suspect is captured. He is following up leads in the case, he said.
Brunner was incorrectly identified as her predecessor in some editions on this story.