A Star Valley man won’t be allowed to legally hunt until he’s twice his current age after being caught shooting four buck mule deer, lopping off their antlers and leaving the animals’ carcasses to waste.
Thayne resident Stetson Long, who was 19 at the time of the crime last November, was sentenced to six months of jail time at the Lincoln County Detention Center after pleading guilty last week. He was ordered to pay the Wyoming Game and Fish Department $16,000 in restitution, was stripped of his hunting privileges for 20 years and lost his fishing privileges for 10 years.
Game and Fish Warden Neil Hymas, who caught Long, told the Jackson Hole Daily this was a case of joy killing and that stiff repercussions are justified.
“He violated the law when his hunting privileges were already suspended,” Hymas said, “and he repeatedly took wildlife away from other sportsmen in the state.”
Hymas said Long’s hunting privileges had been revoked in 2016 from having killed a deer without a license and another in excess of the limit.
All four animals in the latest case were shot between Nov. 5 and 13 on private land near Cokeville in the Smith’s Fork drainage. Long cooperated “at different levels” throughout the investigation, but he eventually led Hymas to the animals’ carcasses. Their skull plates and antlers were sawed off, but the rest of the buck deer were hidden and left to rot. A ranch manager tipped off Game and Fish after finding four sets of fresh mule racks hidden in a barn at the ranch where Long worked and had permission to hunt.
Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred distributed a letter Wednesday calling Long’s folly one of the “most egregious” poaching cases in Wyoming history.
“We are pleased that a serious jail sentence, fines and suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges were given,” Allred wrote in the letter.
Hymas said that, unfortunately, he has dealt with a few similar poaching cases during his long career at Game and Fish. In this case, he said, and “so many others,” the person caught had no real motivation, best he could tell, for killing the antlered animals other than because he could.
“It was a matter of self-driven satisfaction to kill these animals,” Hymas said. “In my mind, the defendant was not able to provide a good reason for killing this many mule deer.”
An attempt to reach Long for an interview Wednesday was unsuccessful.
Although sentenced to six months in jail last Friday, Long is being allowed to work a job in the oil and gas industry in order to save up money to pay his restitution. He'll have to report to jail on Dec. 3, Allred told the Jackson Hole Daily.
Editor's note: This story has been modified to clarify that Long's jail sentence does not begin until December.