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MA - Law nabs teen for hunting miscues

Law nabs teen for hunting miscues
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Shooting a turkey brings charges
By George Barnes TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

WINCHENDON— An alleged poacher may have gobbled off more than he could chew yesterday when, according to police, he shot a turkey in the front yard of a home on Forristall Road.

Environmental Police Sgt. Anthony E. Wolski said Daniel T. Caputi, 18, of 107 Laurel St. will face charges of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, hunting turkey during a closed season, hunting turkey without a permit, hunting with the aid and use of a motor vehicle, discharging a firearm from a highway and two counts of possession of a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle after admitting to police that he shot a turkey that was at a bird feeder at 274 Forristall Road.

Sgt. Wolski said homeowner John Dufresne heard a gunshot near his home and looked out to see a turkey had been shot within 20 feet of the house. He saw a Jeep Cherokee speeding off and contacted police.

Winchendon Police Officers James Spofford and Tracy Flagg responded and also contacted Sgt. Wolski and Environmental Police Sgt. Joseph Paolilli, who happened to be in the area delivering a deer killed by a poacher in Ashburnham to the Otter River Sportsmen’s Club to use in its wild game supper.

The Winchendon police stopped a Jeep Cherokee with two people in it and called in the Environmental Police officers to investigate. The Environmental Police located the dead turkey and then joined Officers Spofford and Flagg at the stopped vehicle.

“They were wearing hunting clothes, but there were no guns in the vehicle,” Sgt. Wolski said. “The guns were hidden in the woods by a third party.”

In searching the vehicle, the officers found a 20-gauge birdshot shell and a shotgun case. Officer Spofford then found some tracks in the woods that led to a muzzle-loader rifle and two shotguns.

Mr. Caputi was then taken to the Winchendon police station where he signed a statement admitting to shooting the turkey. He was issued citations by the Environmental Police and is expected to be formally charged in Winchendon District Court later this week. Sgt. Wolski said the other two people may also be charged with offenses relating to the shooting of the bird.

“It’s still under investigation,” he said.

Sgt. Wolski said Mr. Caputi could face severe penalties if convicted on the charges. The charges may result in fines or a sentence of 30 days in the House of Correction or both. He could also lose his hunting privileges, have his firearms identification card confiscated and have the shotgun used in the killing confiscated.

“The homeowner was extremely upset,” Sgt. Wolski said. “He (Mr. Caputi) fired from his vehicle. He parked his vehicle on the road and shot his gun right toward the house.”

Sgt. Wolski said he also found the incident disheartening because Mr. Caputi took a 15-hour hunter safety course with him two years ago. He said the course covered all hunting laws and regulations. He said turkey hunting season is in May, but there have been a rash of turkeys being shot on people’s lawns recently. He said that type of incident is unusual, in part because it is illegal to discharge a weapon close to a dwelling.

The turkey will be donated to the Winchendon Rod and Gun Club for its game supper.

“Anything like that we donate to local sportsmen’s clubs,” he said.

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