TORRINGTON * With antlered deer season over for nearly a month, the sight of a camouflaged-garbed man dragging a deer through timber about 6 miles southeast of Huntley sent the concerned citizen racing for a phone.
The result of that report 7:30 a.m. Nov. 12 has been Glenn David Branch, 41, of Pawnee City, Neb. pleading guilty to intentionally and knowingly taking an antlered mule deer out of season and without a license.
In a recently negotiated plea agreement between Branch^s attorney and Goshen County Attorney Patrick Korell, Branch was fined $5,000, ordered to pay $2,500 restitution to the state of Wyoming^s general fund and forfeited his Wyoming hunting privileges for 14 years.
Branch^s companion, Kurt H. Benson, 45, also from Pawnee City, was cited for attempting to take a deer without a license and posted $410 bond Nov. 13. The fine and bond payment go to the Goshen County school district.
Game wardens Herb Haley and Bart Morris were checking waterfowl and pheasant hunters near Lingle when they received the call. They rushed to the area but the suspects had already left.
"But the reporting citizens provided a good description of the suspect, rifle and vehicle, including the license plate number," Haley said. "Without that information, there^s a good chance Branch and Benson could have snuck back to Nebraska without getting caught."
Later that day, the wardens caught up with the pair in Torrington. The Pawnee City men had Nebraska deer licenses and said they planned to hunt in Scottsbluff County during Nebraska^s Nov. 11-19 season. Upon arrival the men discovered they no longer had access to the ranch. They said their search for a place a to hunt brought them in contact with a Wyomingite and led them to the area near Huntley where the 5-by-5, 25-inch wide buck was shot.
A Goshen County, Wyo. man has also been charged with accessory to taking an antlered deer out of season for his involvement in this crime. His case is still pending.
In addition, Branch forfeited his stainless steel Savage 7mm rifle and received a 90-day suspended jail sentence and was placed on 1 year unsupervised probation.
Branch was cited with the violation known as the "winter range statute." The law was enacted in 1994 to help deter poaching of trophy big game animals in Wyoming and carries penalties up to a $10,000 fine and 1 year in jail per count. Since 1998, four Nebraskans have been convicted of this statute in Goshen County.
In addition to Wyoming, Branch also loses his hunting privileges in the other states that are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Currently the members include Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
Although Nebraska is not a member of the compact, by state statute they also honor license revocations in all other states