Jeff Reed, 50, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to misdemeanor counts of giving false information to a law officer, taking big game by illegal means, and possessing a big game animal taken by illegal means or in a closed season. Reed was released on conditions he appear at future court hearings.
According to an affidavit by Senior Warden Justin Stedman, on Nov. 23 at 8:45 a.m. he was informed of a complaint that a "spike horn" deer had been shot in Dorset. A spike horn is an antlered deer that does not meet the state's antler requirements that allow it to be shot during certain hunting seasons.
Stedman said when he arrived there were a number of people and vehicles around a dead deer that had not been field dressed. There was an entry wound, but no exit wound, and an antler bore knife marks around a missing point.
A male told Stedman that he had been walking out of the woods and heard a gunshot, then saw a deer fall down and die on a nearby trail. A man, identified as Reed, walked up to it, appearing nervous. The male said the deer had a third antler point at that time, but was still not legal. He said he and Reed discussed how the deer was not legal, then the male left to contact police.
Reed told Stedman that he was sitting on a bucket, hunting, when he heard a shot and saw a deer. He went up to it and met the male who had called police, then went back to his bucket to continue to hunt and see if anyone came for the deer. He said he was hunting with his father and uncle, and his father suggested they drag it from the woods to make it easier for wardens to examine.
Stedman said that Reed changed his story a number of times, adding details each time. He said that Reed claimed to have touched the deer's antler with a knife in order to roughly measure it, and the point fell off. "I advised the defendant that this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard," Stedman wrote. "I also pointed out the antler had cut and scrape marks on it, but he advised that that was what happened."
According to Stedman, Reed claimed not to have fired his weapon that day, but there appeared to be fresh gunpowder stains in the chamber. The deer was given to a retired game warden, who was asked to turn over any bullets he might find. The warden did, and it was determined to be of the same type Reed was using.
Reed and his family members told wardens they had seen two people in camouflage, possibly a father and son, in the area after the shot was fired.
Also found in the area around the bucket Reed said he was hunting from were two mineral blocks, heavy in sodium which are used to attract deer.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.