DNR searching for ‘brazen’ poacher who shot 10-point buck near Waterford neighborhood – Journal Times


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TOWN OF WATERFORD — Michael Brannen heard just one gunshot, but that was enough to take down a trophy buck that people in the neighborhood had come to know.

Deer shot in poaching incident in Waterford

Homeowner Michael Brannen took this photo of a 10-point buck that was shot and killed near his home in the Town of Waterford on Nov. 12 — eight days before gun hunting season opened.

The 10-point buck stumbled onto Brannen’s property, fell down and died.

Brannen ran to confront the shooter, who was behind the wheel in a passing vehicle. But the perpetrator sped away, leaving behind his illegally shot trophy.

Conservation agents now are searching for the poaching suspect, who could face criminal charges and hundreds of dollars in fines in the incident that occurred Nov. 12 in the Town of Waterford.

Investigators are hoping a member of the public will help them find the suspect.

Wisconsin DNR Warden Brandon Smith


Brandon Smith, a warden with the state Department of Natural Resources, said the poaching episode was unusual because it occurred in broad daylight in a residential area.

“It was a pretty brazen incident,” Smith said. “It was certainly a dangerous situation.”

Brannen, himself a hunter, said he also wants to see the suspect captured and prosecuted.

The incident occurred across the street from the Buena Park subdivision — far too close to people’s homes for anyone to be taking aim at a deer and firing a rifle, Brannen said.

“Before you know it, they’re going to be shooting deer in every neighborhood,” he said. “Where’s it going to stop?”

The incident occurred eight days before Wisconsin’s gun season opened for deer hunting on Nov. 20. The only hunting permitted at the time was with bow and arrow.

Deer poaching incident on Grand Drive in the Town of Waterfrord

Conservation wardens are seeking a suspect who poached a deer Nov. 12 in the 3000 block of Grand Drive, located north of the Village of Waterford and adjacent to the Buena Park subdivision.

At about 3 p.m. on a recent Friday, Brannen was working on a home remodeling project outside his house in the 30000 block of Grand Drive, just north of the Village of Waterford.

Deer roam the neighborhood frequently. Residents are accustomed to seeing the animals outside.

Smith said the 10-point buck had been in the area for so long, many residents knew him. With his size and picturesque antlers, the deer would have attracted the attention of any hunter, Smith said.

“For most people, that would be either a trophy or at least a very respectable deer,” he said.

Brannen heard a gunshot, and a few moments later the wounded animal appeared and collapsed to the ground. A motorist had stopped on Grand Drive, but when Brannen ran to confront the driver, the suspect sped away.

“This guy probably just got excited and thought this was the biggest deer he’d ever seen,” Brannen recalled. He ran up and told the shooter “you’re not getting this deer.”

The homeowner then called the Waterford Police Department. The police contacted DNR wardens.

Waterford Police Chief Matt Johnson

Police Chief Matt Johnson

Police Chief Matt Johnson said the shooter acted recklessly by discharging a firearm in a residential area. Johnson said there is a “huge difference” between legitimate hunters and this sort of misconduct.

If the suspect carries a loaded rifle in his vehicle and is capable of such poor judgment, Johnson said, he could pose a risk to others.

“It’s very disturbing,” the chief said. “It’s not just this neighborhood’s issue — it’s the whole community’s issue.”

DNR agents knocked on doors in the neighborhood, and they staked out Grand Drive for several hours, hoping the suspect would return to collect the dead deer. But they had no luck catching or identifying the poaching suspect.

The animal carcass was later donated for food to a group that operates a food pantry for military veterans.

Investigators are hoping that a tip from the public will lead them to a suspect in the Nov. 12 incident. They theorize that the shooter probably cannot resist telling other people about his experience with Waterford’s prized 10-point buck.

“People like to talk,” Smith said. “Even the shooter probably told somebody something.”

Brannen agreed: “Somebody’s going to have to turn him in.”

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