Robo-deer used to snare deer jackers

On an unseasonably warm November afternoon outside Malone on Sunday, what appeared to be a small six-point buck and a doe stood broadside to a rural dirt road in a privately owned and posted clearing.

All was silent, except for the sounds of chipmunks and squirrels chirping intermittently.

But not for long.

A red Chevy pickup sped past the clearing, then quickly stopped and reversed direction.

The driver looked around, watching the buck's head move from side-to-side - then fired a single .22-caliber hornet round from his truck window, which sat idling on the public road.

Seconds later, two state Environmental Conservation officers drove up to block the roadway, pinning the red Chevy in between them to prevent escape.

DEC officer Mike Phelps, who was operating the robotic decoy deer, sprang from the woods where he was sitting camouflaged in the underbrush, to help in the arrest.

The officers seized the suspect's gun, and place him under arrest.

Phelps stepped back and offered his observations.

"He pulled up and saw the buck and decided it was worth shooting it after he saw it move," Phelps said. "I don't know if he loaded the gun or it was already loaded, but he took a shot from the road at the deer and then he realized he shot something that probably wasn't living."

In New York State, as in most states across the nation, firing a weapon from a public road is a misdemeanor, as is possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

Phelps said the officers charged the suspect with two misdemeanors - discharge of a firearm from a public highway and bearing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; plus two violations - one for taking of wildlife from a motor vehicle and one for taking of wildlife from a public highway.

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