Utah DWR

Extra Half-Inch of Antler Leads to Felony for Utah Poacher

Officials say man used a spotlight and bow to poach a huge buck.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources have announced multiple charges, including one felony for a man accused of poaching a large mule deer last August.

Ethan Lebaron was hit with fines and charges stemming from an August 20, 2019 incident in Iron County near Quichapa Canyon. The DWR says a tipster saw spotlights operating in the dark and called it in as possible poaching activity.

When two officers arrived on scene, they found Lebaron and two other men and a dead mule deer buck. The officers believe the buck was spotlighted and then shot by Lebaron with a bow. The buck had a 24.5-inch spread. The size of the buck is important in this case. Utah is one of many states that now levels higher charges for trophy-sized animals. Because the deer's spread was over 24 inches, it becomes a felony charge.

Killing a trophy-sized deer in Utah carries a minimum restitution charge of $8,000. This wasn't the only charge Lebaron got in the case. He received a misdemeanor charge for a tagging requirement violation.

Another unfortunate part of this story is that DWR officials say the deer was not field dressed. This led to the animal's meat spoiling and being wasted. Lebaron already had an initial court appearance back on February 3. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Iron County City District Court on March 24. The DWR's press release says they are recommending Lebaron's hunting license being suspended too.

As for the other two un-named men who were on the scene, officials are still mulling over possible charges for them.

The DWR is publicizing the incident and are thanking the tipster who called in the suspicious activity to Utah's anti-poaching hotline known as "UTIP."

"We would like to thank the public for continuing to use the UTIP hotline to report illegal and suspicious wildlife activity," DWR Law Enforcement Chief Justin Shirley said in press release.

We will keep an eye on this story and bring you more as it develops here at Wide Open Spaces.

For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his YouTube channel.