Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2004


Jun. 23, 2004

John Hollenhorst Reporting

A secretly made videotape of a hunting incident in southern Utah has raised ethical questions and triggered an investigation by wildlife officials. It appears to show deer and elk deliberately trapped by a hunting party that eventually shot a prize buck.

The hunting outfitter vigorously denies allegations of trapping, which would be a third degree felony. He says the videotape, which someone mailed to KSL anonymously, is misleading. But he admits what happened was bad and should never happen again.

This incident took place in a farming area just outside Alton in Kane County. It's private land where hunters pay up to $11,000 to shoot a trophy deer.

Last September other hunters shot videotape as a California hunter and two guides went after an especially desirable buck deer. In off-camera conversations, the photographers accused the hunting party of cornering deer and elk along an eight-foot-high fence.

Photographer: "That's gotta be tough, trying to get a shot with all those animals standing in the corner of that fence. Oh yeah, that's real tough, hah, hah."

They claim the natural exit points were deliberately blocked for well over an hour by people, vehicles, and temporary gates propped up just before the hunt.

But outfitter Wade Heaton says the deer had plenty of running room and some escaped, but others mistakenly cornered themselves. He says the incident stretched on because the first shot only wounded the deer. The rifle malfunctioned and it took time to get another rifle and finish the job.

Wade Heaton, Color Country Outfitters: "And so really I don't think there was anything illegal that went on with it. It was too bad. And obviously that's not the way people like to hunt. And it was an unfortunate circumstance."

The Division of Wildlife Resources wrapped up an investigation and turned it over to the Kane County Attorney a couple of days ago. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed.

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