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Charges filed against two in alleged deer poaching incident

Charges were filed Monday in Pierce County Circuit Court against two men involved in an alleged Nov. 15 deer poaching incident.

Nicholas R. Thayer, 28, Ellsworth, was charged with hunting deer during closed season and failure to attach ear tag to deer carcass. Daniel P. Place, 26, Beldenville, also received the failure to attach ear tag charge.

The two charges are misdemeanors, meaning if found guilty, they're looking at a maximum penalty of between $1,000-$2,000 and/or six months jail. Both of them are scheduled to make their initial court appearance 10 a.m. Dec. 29.

According to the criminal complaint, DNR Conservation Warden Brad Peterson was notified via the Pierce County Sheriff's Department Dispatch that at approximately 10:30 a.m. someone witnessed an individual in a pick-up truck shoot a deer from County Highway A, south of 420th St., with a gun.

The witness told Peterson he was returning from bow hunting when he kicked up several deer. Two of the deer were bucks and they ran west toward CTH A.

As the witness watched the deer, he said a tan truck turned onto CTH A from 420th St. It then stopped on CTH A where the buck, an estimated 10-pointer, ran into the woods. The witness then heard a gunshot come from the truck. However, the witness and Peterson were unable to find the deer.

Peterson came back to that area later that night around 6 p.m. and found a vehicle that stopped on the road near where the witness said the shot occurred. He saw two individuals exit the truck and then one of the men drag a deer into the truck.

Peterson pulled the vehicle over and asked which one shot the deer. Thayer, who was the passenger, allegedly admitted to killing the deer.

Thayer said he was driving down CTH A looking for bucks at 7:30 a.m. when he saw the deer standing in the road. He said he didn't have any luck with his bow, so he decided to shoot it. He said he rolled down the window of his truck and shot the deer behind the front shoulder from the front seat of his truck.

The deer ran off, so he left, but later that day, he said he convinced Place to come back and look for the deer.

Place dropped him off and Thayer went back into the woods, where he eventually found it. Thayer told Place to pick him up on A, where the two loaded the deer in Place's truck. Thayer added that he didn't tag the deer and that the rifle was at his house.

Place was then interviewed and his story was similar to Thayers, but he did say he was shocked when Thayer told him he got the deer with a gun and that they're going go to register it. He also said that to cover the bullet hole "we were going to stick an arrow in the buck."

Peterson seized the deer and the rifle used to shoot the deer. The complaint also states that Thayer had his archery tag all validated ready to put on the buck.