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.
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.