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World-Class Buck Poached: Jail Time?

230" Gross Buck Poached
Photograph by Jason Radakovich


Nate Strong has entered a plea of not guilty in an ongoing poaching case in the State of Wyoming involving a deer famous enough to be distinctly recognized at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in March.

The mule deer spotted was a 230” gross non-typical mule deer allegedly taken by Nate Strong of Big Piney, WY.

People in the Sublette County area claim that the deer was taken after the 2015 mule deer hunting season had already ended and they have proof from pictures and video dated after the season had closed.

One woman took a video of the aforementioned deer stating in the video, “You made it!” when referring to the deer in the video on October 11, 2015 which was four days after the season had closed.

The deer was well known in the Hoback Ranch area where many people had watched and photographed this particular deer for many years. One of the defining features, besides the antlers, was that the deer had a bullet hole through its right ear.

“This was one of the most photographed deer in Wyoming. He would eat out of your hand,” said a Hoback Ranch resident.

When Jason Radakovich and his father were closing up their cabin for the winter on November 7th, they spotted the deer near the cabin where, “There is no hunting in that area…” stated Radakovich.

He had been following the deer and believed that it lived within a ½ mile of the cabin. He also said that he had taken pictures of it for the past three years so he recognized it easily. When he and a friend attended the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in March, they recognized the deer and reported it to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and said they had pictures to prove that the deer was poached after the season had ended.

The investigation was taken over by the state office in Cheyenne when they learned that the deer had crossed state lines when it was taken to Monarch taxidermy in South Jordan, Utah November 27, 2015 to be mounted.

Strong also posted pictures of a non-typical mule deer that he had taken in the fall of 2015 on his public Facebook page along with many hunting pictures of he and his son and a lot of inspirational quotes about basketball, as he was a role-model and coach for the Big Piney HS basketball team and a teacher at the high school.

After the Game and Fish investigative team spoke to the owner of Monarch Taxidermy they obtained a search warrant and soon after on Feb.16 Nate Strong admitted that he shot the non-typical mule deer and tagged it with a whitetail only tag.

He is looking at possible charges of $5,000-$10,000 in fines, up to a year in jail and up to five years loss of equipment and hunting privileges.

We will continue to report as the story evolves.

Photograph by David Brown
Photograph by Jason Radakovich


Photograph by David Brown



About Amyntas Hinckley

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  1. Hang in in the tallest tree you can find!!!

  2. Randolph Holford

    If guilty, neither the time nor the fine are enough

  3. These are the kind of people that give hunters a bad reputation. I agree that the penalties are not nearly enough.

  4. Chance Stretchfield

    I don’t agree one bit with this guys actions. In fact I think he’s a idiot for posting pictures and then having it displayed at the show. With that being said, he’s a human that made a very poor decision. He should pay for it. But remember he’s a human and we all make mistakes. Before you go blasting him. Think about if you were his kid and this was your dad. This mistake with haunt him and his family for decades. Be careful what you say.

    • His “very poor” decision should haunt him for decades. He has taught his son to be dishonest and to cheat lie and steal. His “very poor decision will affect the sportsman he has stolen from, the people who enjoyed having the deer around them and the sustainability of the herd in that area in general.

      In addition, I highly doubt this is the first time he has taken game illegally and is undoubtedly a lifetime poacher.

      The fine should be $25-30k, jail time of mandatory one year and loss of hunting privilege for life.

      Losers like this don’t change and they perpetuate this behavior from generation to generation.

      Rant over!

    • Really? I (we) should be concerned that it might haunt his family? Mr. Strong remains the sole responsible party here. Maybe he should have considered your thoughts before making his decision. “…he’s human and we all make mistakes.” Not changing your oil on time is a mistake! This guys individual greed and ego led him to his individual decision to deprive us all. Best his children learn early that sort of decision will be costly. Maybe best his Big Piney HS basketball teams players get this education, too. My children do not have to worry that their father will be accused or convicted of poaching. And I don’t have to worry my children will ever be accused of the same. They’ve been taught to stay within the regs – all of them. Seriously, what sort of ego does it take to poach any game animal, spend the cash to have it mounted, then brag on it for the remainder of your life, and then have your children brag on it after your gone? I think Mr. Strong did more than skip an oil change!

    • Warren Plocharsky

      He obviously did this for the glory and bragging rights, not because he was stupid. You suggest a slap on the wrist. That’s like saying you shouldn’t send a guy to prison because his kids will suffer. I used to teach Hunter Safety. Hunter Safety teaches hunter ethics to instill compliance with game laws, not fear of getting caught. He has no ethics.therefore, the only thing that will “haunt” him was that he got caught and the fine he will pay.
      There is no sympathy or leniency due here.

    • Guilty let the son learn from the fathers mistake so he doesn’t copy his fathers bad traits,

  5. If the fines for stuff like this was $100,000 for the first violation and indefinite loss of hunting rights and $250,000 for the 2nd violation, it just might stop. I’m tired of these crooks showing such a lack of appreciation for these wonderful creatures. A warrior of that stature has beaten a bunch of us for years and deserves to live

  6. Well at least, in this article, there was no mention of poacher and hunter in the same sentence by the EHJ personnel. I’m seriously getting tired of that, maybe enough to terminate my subscription. Combining the two in the same sentence is almost a disgusting as the poaching. EHJ should take every opportunity to succinctly distinguish between hunters and poachers. Poachers have zero in common. And another reason to offer preference point rewards to hunters for turning in poachers.

  7. $5-10k penalty does not begin to pay for the loss of this amazing animal and the loss of genetic potential that could have been passed on. Mr. Strong clearly knew he was in violation of the law regardless of how his attorney will try to spin and play down the violation.
    I hope the State of Wyoming prosecutes Mr. Strong to the fullest extent of the law. His hunting privledges should be revoked for life. Mr. Strong is an egomaniac with no morals, ethics or integrity, way to set an example Douche Bag.

  8. Chance Stretchfield

    You guys ever made a mistake and asked for someone to forgive you? I’m not saying they shouldn’t give him jail time or a serious fine. He just killed the buck I could have been hunting next year. The guy is a bonehead. But when people are saying things like hang the man, that’s messed up. If I were the judge I would make him pick up road kill for the next 10 years after he gets out of jail. Then make him speak at every school in the state about this classless decision to cheat.

    • On his face book, did he brag about shooting a mule deer or a white tail
      Since the deer was a nontypical buck, he may have thought it was a nontypical white tail
      It could have easily been an honest mistake
      I know the first thing I look at to distinguish the difference between a mule Deer and white tail is the rack
      And the deer’s rack does strongly resemble a nontypical white tail rack
      I agree that ignorance is no excuse
      If he has a clear history with the law and lives a life above reproach in his community then there is a pretty good chance that this was an honest mistake
      That being the case he should have the animal head confiscated and a small fine
      If it was intensional poaching then he should have the $5000 fine and his license revoked for 1-5 years for his first offense and steeper if he has had priors

      • You’ve got to be kidding right? Didn’t know it was a mule deer? Thought it was a whitetail? Strong knew exactly what flavor that buck was before he stole it from legal, honest hunters. A small fine? I think around $10,000.00 would be about right. There are hunters with deep pockets that would pay that and a lot more to take a Mule deer of that caliber.
        And seeing as how he transported it across state lines to have it mounted, the Feds should nail him under the Lacy act, when Wyoming gets through with him. I have zero sympathy for Strong, he’s a liar, a thief and a poacher. Kids are supposed to look up to a teacher/coach. Some role model he is. He should lose his hunting privileges for 20 years. But, being a poacher he’ll probably just hunt anyway. And a year in jail to reflect on his poor choices, he has nobody to blame but himself. I hope the Judge really nails him, he was due in court yesterday.

      • That rack looks nothing like a whitetail rack.

  9. As a human, he made a clear choice to break the law and poached the deer and for what reason? His own personal gain and vanity. As i see it, until this country raises the penalities to deter those who decide to poach ouir wildlife, this problem will continue. it seems to be his first offense and he’s a good guy but so was Ted Bundy. Make it hurt, through the book at him, take away his hunting rights for five years, give him the maximum fine and make him do community service which has nothing to do with sports and outdoors so he can’t get any pleasuer for his serices.

  10. I have to say this, but this is a culture that YOU hunters, and sportsman must change in the west. I will explain.
    I hunt in Ohio where thru complaints, and DNR meetings the penalties for poaching have increased “slightly”. Saying that, the focus on these CRIMES, and make no mistake these are CRIMES, portrays them as “silly” mistakes”, or “it was just a deer”, all the while the anti’s scream that this is exactly the culture of hunters.
    This deer was the type of deer that an out of state hunter would pay $10000 to hunt. Not a canned hunt, but a fair chase area that held 200″ inch deer, and we have a picture of this deer as an example.No we can up the price to $15000, because 200″ Mule deer are rare, and we have sighted deer in the 230″ class.
    Ok, so I have the means, and desire to come to Wyoming to hunt this ranch that has pictures of 230″ deer, and my reasonable chances are good to harvest a buck of 200″ or better. I pay the outfitter $15000, I buy a plane ticket for $500, I buy a tag at $400, I spend money on food, and lodging, and incidentals. All said I drop $20000 on a mule deer hunt of a lifetime.
    Before I arrive a thief broke into the outfitters house, and stole $20000, but thank goodness they caught the guy, and believe it or not, it was a high school basketball coach!
    What a shame this guy is going to prison for 5 to 10 for grand theft, B&E, and possessing criminal tools. And he will never teach again because he is a convicted FELON.

    For all the soft hearts out there, that is exactly what happened, he stole $20000 from the state of Wyoming, from YOU. You need to call your governor, and tell him this is a economical crime, the same as stealing cash from the working class. The culture must stop, that poaching is some sort of petty crime. I was denied the hunt of a lifetime, by this poacher, and Wyoming was denied $20000 in income. Those are the facts, like it or not. This POACHER not only killed a 230″ buck, but purposely hid it at a taxidermist in Utah, bragged about it on facebook, and Wyoming thinks this is not a criminal???? He is a good guy? Really??
    If he embezzled $20000 from Wyoming, it would be a crime, if he stole a car worth $20000 it would be a crime. You do the math, call your Governor.

    • Yes, the guy made a very bad decision. The guy has poor character and a piss-poor representative of a Wyomingite and hunter. I agree, they should throw the book at him, which I’m sure they will, within the limits of the law. The scenario is much worse because of him being a teacher and coach which should help with the severity of his conviction. As a lifelong Wyoming resident, I have faith that our wonderful state will approach this correctly.

      As to you Mr. Wright, or anyone else posting from thousands of miles away who have quite possibly never been in Wyoming, get your facts straight before fabricating a bunch of crap. This deer could have never been legally hunted, he lived in a subdivision and the covenants clearly state NO HUNTING. This deer could never have been bought by some rich non resident.There have been other magnificent mule deer illegally killed here in the past. They grow old and become magnificent here much more often because they can’t be hunted. The residents of Hoback Ranches are the ones that have truly lost, not someone from Ohio.

      So, because of your post I’m going to call our Governor and feed him full of a bunch of nonsense. Yeah right!

      I agree we need to stop this sort of thing from happening, but come on, join reality!

      • I live in Wyoming too Dave, and so what if the deer lived in a subdivision.
        He could have passed on his genes for more years and all this deer’s offspring won’t stay in a subdivision. He couldn’t legally be hunted, there’s the rub. Strong made a decision to poach this deer, knowing full well what species it was, and that it was in a no hunting area. Only a shyster lawyer will go for the “Thought it was a Whitetail” ploy. That $10,000 cap on poaching fines needs to be raised IMO. It isn’t nearly enough for what he stole from us Citizens of Wyoming. Strong wanted fame and glory and endorsement money. I hope he gets convicted of a Felony, Heavily fined, Fired form his Job and loses Hunting privileges for life. He’s a Criminal. JMO

  11. I once poached an animal when I was 16 years old. I ended up doing so much community service and had to work my restitution and fines off with the rancher where I shot the deer here in Texas all summer in 110 degree heat. I hated every second of that summer but I learned a great lesson. Now I manage a cattle and hunting ranch here in Texas and respect all the game laws and its just made me an overall better person. They need to throw the book at this guy.

  12. There are a few individual well-off hunters, in Utah I believe, that have paid over a million dollars in 3 or 4 years buying Governor’s tags. I don’t have the exact figures, but I’m sure that Guy, Ike or their dad Mike have them. That 200″+ Mulie that Strong stole from the State was worth far more than any fine he’ll eventually get.
    I hope I’m wrong, but I think the Judge will go real easy on him because he’s a Teacher/Coach.

  13. Edward Franceschi

    Thank You for the article what a spectacular old timer, I started hunting out of state in Wyoming in 1970 and have taker many nice deer, this makes me sick that people would poach an animal of this quality they are not hunters or sportsmen.

    Edward, Calif

  14. I hope that the Wyoming Game Dept. pushes for the maximum sentence!! This is terrible. We need to show the world that as conservationists will not settle for this behavior.

  15. Amen Edward Wright. Couldn’t have said it any better myself. I’m from PA and have been hunting elk an mulies the last four years in Wyoming and know the expense we pay full circle like you said. Sorry, but its gotta hurt…

  16. Anyone that would mistake that for a whitetail has no business ever hunting again. Taking it to another state for Taxidermy? Really? He needs to take responsibility for his actions, he is not a child. Those Liberals of you who think oh, it was a mistake and we all make them, you only think that because you typically think individuals are not responsible, which is odd, because you think the Govt is not responsible for all their screw ups either. Who is responsible? I guess no one in your fantasy worlds. The largest congregation of criminals in DC is when Congress is in session.

  17. Oh, and he should be fined based upon the value of the animal and have either jail time, boat load of community service or both! $100,000 was paid for the CO Governor’s tag this yr at auction and they won’t take one any better!

  18. Theft is theft and this guy stole not only from Wyoming residents but the people in general.That deer did nothing wrong but grow old and magnificant as we as hunters would like to see happen more often.Deer of that caliber,in a huntable or non-huntable area are special and deserve better than to be killed by a scum bag who is supposedly a “role model”.Really? Watch what ya say? Again, Really??An example needs to be made eventually in these types of crimes,and Mr. Strong looks like a prime candidate to me..I wonder if his Players respect him?If the community respects him as a coach? This man obviously has no respect for himself,his family,wildlife,law,and the citizens around him..Dont slap him on the wrist,,make an example and let it be known.I’m sure EHJ and EBHJ as well as many other publications would gladly use pages to get the word out there of the punishment handed down..

  19. Its an animal folks.If he wasnt a trophy we wouldnt even be talking about it.
    Its lame he took the animal illegally and then flaunted it but its still an animal.
    I personally think selling tags to the highest bidder is criminal but thats just me.

  20. I live and work in the area where the buck was poached. We have very few whitetail in western Wyoming period. If this dill weed “thought” that it was a whitetail he’s full of shit. He should have the book thrown at him and privileges taken away forever.

  21. In God We Trust

    Did someone really try to compare this with Ted Bundy? The guy shot a deer illegally, he didn’t murder a human. Let’s keep things in perspective. The best way to curb this behavior is the loss of hunting privileges. A lifetime ban is a big deterrent for people. 10k is a lot of money for a fine and makes most people think twice about poaching. I hope level heads start to prevail instead of 250k for shooting a deer. Even a buck as awesome as this one.

  22. As someone who is not only a local in the area, but also who guides mule deer hunts and depends on the income generated by them all I can say it that it is completely reprehensible. Knowing the full story it is a pretty clear case of what happened and that there was complete knowledge of wrongdoing. Someone doesn’t “think” it is a whitetail, especially one who has hunted for his whole life and who teaches an outdoor rec class at the high school where they learn to identify the different types of deer, fish, etc. Stupid vanity got him and should cost him. As many know, any deer over 200 is special and as an outfitter, those deer will sell hunts for 10+ years. An outfitter could calculate that the net worth of such a harvest is well beyond 250k. You can look at the costs that people have paid to hunt Antelope Island in Utah knowing they have such a good opportunity to harvest a deer beyond that 200 mark. Wyoming is unique in that there is public land that offers some fine deer hunting. Most people have to work for it and trust in luck. Nate chose to disgrace hunters, his students, and then the claim sheer stupidity… Knowing full well what he did it caused him to taxidermy in Utah because everyone in the Big Piney area and to be honest many counties over knew of this buck. Hopefully that feds will do the right thing and throw that lacey act at him. I have seen that act used to hurt law abiding citizens, hopefully now it will help us and punish the poacher.

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