As reported in the Indystar. A 47-year-old Brownsburg man was charged Monday with a felony and three misdemeanors in a poaching case involving a local whitetail buck so large and elusive that local hunters had nicknamed the deer “Nightmare.”
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, just after 5 a.m. Oct. 2, Tom Miller was asleep in his Fishback Road residence near Eagle Creek Park when he was jolted awake by the sound of a rifle shot.
Miller got up, hopped into his vehicle and followed a pickup to a nearby parking lot. The driver, later identified as Don Ward, told Miller he was looking for deer on his property but didn’t shoot one.
Miller called Hendricks County Sheriff’s Deputy Jesse Fulwider, who had permission to hunt on Miller’s land and had been pursuing the giant buck there for years. Fulwider had given the 10-point buck, which weighed close to 300 pounds, the nickname Nightmare.
Fulwider found the buck’s carcass on Miller’s property and called Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Jeff Wells, who lives nearby.
Wells said in the affidavit he knew Ward well because he had “received previous complaints about being involved in unlawful taking of deer.”
Wells confronted Ward at his home. At first, Ward denied shooting the buck, but Wells said in his affidavit that Ward later confessed after saying, “If I admit I killed it, can I keep the rack?”
Ward told The Indianapolis Star earlier this month he was so taken by the size of the deer that he couldn’t stop himself from shooting it.
Wells said the meat from Nightmare was donated to a Hendricks County man who had signed up for a program to receive venison from fresh roadkills or poaching cases. The antlers are being held as evidence.
Ward is charged with criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, a Class D felony, unlawful taking of a wild animal, a Class B misdemeanor, and hunting without the consent of a landowner and hunting from a public highway, both Class C misdemeanors.
If convicted on the felony count alone, Ward could be ordered to pay up to a $10,000 fine and could be sentenced to up to three years in prison.
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