As most of you know, I love my rather bucolic state of residence. A lot of folks like to characterize us as backward and unsophisticated. But as if it were a scene from the CSI television series, some Wyoming game wardens were able to determine that a 185-inch 4x5 mule deer buck was taken in an area closed to hunting in 2010 because of the contents of the buck’s stomach.
Shenae Blakemore, 29, Cody Gilligan, 23 and Colton Lapp, 19, were convicted of poaching the trophy buck. Several wardens were investigating an unrelated incident and found the carcass in a shed near Worland. Lapp told wardens that Blakemore had killed the deer in an open area of the Black Hills area north of Sundance. The wardens were skeptical of the story. A sample of the stomach contents of the buck was sent to a lab for analysis, and the results showed that the buck had been eating cottonwood leaves indigenous only to the Greybull River area in Big Horn and Park counties, some 200-plus miles away from the alleged kill site. The Narrow-Leaf cottonwood grows only in the gravelly soils of the Greybull River as opposed to the heavier soils that are home to Plains cottonwood trees.
Wardens also were able to obtain text messages between the trio that indicated Blakemore had killed the buck. Blakemore received two years probation and agreed to pay a $3,000 restitution fine, as well as forfeiting her hunting privileges for two years. Gilligan and Lapp were charged as accessories to the crime and ordered to pay $5,040 each.