ECOs say they caught hunters jacking deer

State Department of Environmental Conservation officers (ECOs) caught a trio of illegal hunters in Herkimer County at the beginning of the month.

Two ECOs, Darryl Lucas and Lt. Matthew Jacoby, were investigating complaints of illegal deer jacking in the town of Danube, near Utica, on Friday, Feb. 3 when they encountered a vehicle matching the description that was called in.

Just after 4:30 a.m., the officers saw the vehicle driving slowly down a road while the passenger was shining a spotlight on fields along the road. Just as the officers pulled out of their hiding spot, a shot rang out from the white, four-door sedan.

The officers stopped the car and found three men, a deer and a loaded shotgun in the vehicle. The deer and gun were in the trunk and the officers surmised that the gun had been stashed in the trunk through a trapdoor in the back seat.

The men admitted to shooting the deer earlier in the night in the town of Frankfurt and provided the officers with information that the trio had shot deer illegally on other occasions.

Two other ECOs went to the Utica home of one of the suspects, where two more deer capes were found. A fifth ECO and their K-9 partner were called in to search for additional evidence at the scene of the deer jacking.

“The three men were each charged with taking deer with the aid of an artificial light (deer jacking), possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, spotlighting deer while possessing a firearm, and shooting from a public highway,” a release from the DEC said.

The men are due back in Danube town court on Feb. 20.