North Dakota man guilty of poaching giant mule deer buck in New Mexico
Thanks to a tip in December of 2015, a man has been charged with poaching a New Mexico trophy mule deer buck. In late June, Cody W. Davis was ordered to pay $74,000 in restitution, which included $20,000 for the mule deer and “an additional $54,000 in reimbursement” to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) for “the extensive investigation required for this case,” according to the agency.
Davis also had to pay another $3,000 towards the Operation Game Thief program, which is how officers were able to catch him in the first place.
The tip led officers to a “large headless mule deer buck” near Lindrith, NM. Once there, officers discovered the head – stashed in a separate area – and kept tabs on the area “nearly 24/7.” Fortunately, their vigilance paid off and they were able to watch Davis load the mule deer head into his truck four months later after which he drove off with the officers trailing behind him. However, Davis stopped on a bridge over the Rio Grande and dumped the trophy head into the river. Once dumped, Davis fled the scene.
After a two-week grid search of the river, the mule deer head was finally recovered and scored 232 7/8” using the Safari Club International system, according to NMDFG. Working in conjunction with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NMDGF officers then served Davis a search warrant at his home in Dickinson, ND, where he gave “a full confession.” According to NMDFG, Davis haled from Lindrith, NM, and had a history of game law violations that dated back to 2000. Once the investigation was completed, officers figured out that they had worked nearly 2,000 hours and drove over 25,000 miles in order to charge Davis with the crime.
“It was a long investigation, involving many conservation officers, Department biologists and staff from every part of the agency,” Conservation Officer Ben Otero said. “It also would not have been possible without support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and North Dakota Game and Fish Department.”