KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A man is facing a criminal charge after police and game wardens said he shot a deer from the window of a sport utility vehicle on South Stream Road.
Joshua P. Hayes, 21, of Woodford Road, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment, illegal method of taking game: shooting from vehicle, and failure to tag big game. He was released on conditions he not possess a firearm.
According to an affidavit by Warden Josh H. Hungerford, on Nov. 24 at 11 a.m. he was dispatched to South Stream Road to a complaint that someone had fired a gun from a vehicle. Hungerford said he was given a description of the vehicle and a registration plate number.
Hungerford said at 11:30 a.m., he, Warden Travis Buttle, and Bennington Police Officer Lawrence Cole found the vehicle headed south on South Stream Road where Cole initiated a traffic stop.
Hungerford said Hayes was driving the vehicle and in the back was an antlered white tail deer that had been tagged using a bear tag. Hungerford wrote that he asked to see Hayes’ hunting license and saw that it was missing a bear tag, but still had the deer tag.
In Vermont, hunting licenses come with tags for certain large games species. After a hunter takes the species in question they must put one of the tags on it and have the animal weighed at a designated check station.
Hungerford wrote that Hays denied firing a gun from the vehicle.
According to the affidavit, Hungerford spoke to Ron and Marie Van Orden, who live near where the incident was reported. He wrote that Marie Van Orden told him she heard a gunshot and looked out her window to see a maroon SUV, out of which came two people who went into the woods.
Ron Van Orden told Hungerford that he went outside and told the people from the vehicle, one of whom had a rifle, that they could not shoot within 500 feet of a house. He then asked if they had shot a deer, to which they replied they had not.
Hungerford wrote that the next day he spoke to Larry Gauthier, who made the original complaint, and was told that he was driving along South Stream Road towards a maroon SUV when he heard a gunshot. He said he saw a gun barrel go back inside the SUV from where it had been out the driver’s side window. He said he felt as though had he not slowed down he might have been in danger from the gun.