What to do when you have a mistake kill?

Ever since since the antler restrictions went into effect the fear I have always heard is what if? What if I don’t see the antlers? What if I miss-count the points? That what if question has resulted in the many dead deer I have found in the woods over the years that were too small or in one case the side of the rack that was up was too small, but the side buried under the leaves was legal. It is a waste.

Well, this past rifle season that “what if” happened to me. I was doing a drive for some of my family when I saw a deer about 100 yards away standing. Knowing it would soon bolt I quickly checked for antlers and saw none. I fired and it went down on the spot. Walking up to it though I discovered that it was actually a small buck…oh dear.

Any person who kills any wildlife while hunting or trapping or by accident or mistake shall immediately field-dress any edible game and deliver the carcass to a Game Commission officer in the county where it was killed…. (General Hunting regulations 2016-2017 edition)

It goes on to explain the process to tag the deer and so on. Well, I followed the process to the best of my understanding. I was a bit confused about which tag I should put on. My logic was I should put on the tag for the animal that I thought it was and in the end that seemed to be the correct choice after having talked with the Game Commission officer.

On to that. I called my regional office and told them I had a mistake kill to report. They took down my name, address, and phone number and said I would be contacted by the officer. A couple of hours later he called me and arranged to meet me in a parking lot. On the phone he assured me that I was not a criminal.

Again when I met the officer he assured me that I was not a criminal. Understandable so people probably are probably often worried about what will happen now. It was good to have him reassure me and see that he was being friendly and not angry with me.

After some paper work and a statement that I wrote basically saying I saw the deer, thought it was a doe, shot it, tagged it, and then called the regional office the officer wrote me a replacement tag. He took the deer and put it on his hitch haul rack and told me he had a family of 10 lined up that he though could use the deer.

I was happy. My deer did not go to waste. I did right thing and was not punished for doing the right thing. I did have to pay a $25 restitution fee which is not considered a fine, but rather part of the replacement value for the deer (the officer said the real value was way higher).

People I have heard have always been worried about the possibility of a big fine for mistake kills. Maybe there are officers out there that not so kind, but in my experience the officer in Armstrong county is a decent and understanding guy. As he told me the real criminals are the people who leave their mistake kill laying in the woods.

Be responsible and take care of your mistake kill. Sacrifice the time out of the season and pay the restitution. Someone will use the meat and it will not go to waste.

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