Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2003


Domestic Red Deer that fell victim to hunter

A Waldoboro man could lose his hunting privileges after admittedly shooting a domestic red deer in Warren Nov.7.

According to Maine Game Warden Joe Lefebvre, Russell Griffin of 109 Jefferson Rd. was issued summonses for shooting a domestic animal and criminal trespass while hunting following the early morning incident near Rt. 90.

The location of the shooting was determined to be within 100 yards of a nearby residence. Further charges if any, may be considered by the District Attorney’s office, Lefebvre said. Griffin is scheduled for arraignment in Knox County District Court Nov. 23.

According to Lefebvre, the property where the shooting occurred was clearly posted with no hunting and no trespassing signs. A large six-foot freezer chest facing the road prominently featured clear signage stating no hunting, red deer farm, Lefebvre said.

Griffin was reportedly driving by the animal’s paddock around 6 a.m. when he spotted the deer, Lefebvre said.

“He claims he didn’t see the freezer,” Lefebvre said. “He snuck through this field next to the marked field and fired leaning up against a tree.”

Griffin may lose his hunting license for at least one year and could be ordered to pay restitution, Lefebvre said.

Lefebvre said he previously issued Griffin a summons for night hunting in Waldoboro in 2001.

The victim was a domestic red deer that belonged to the Richard and Amy Royer family. The deer was more than three years old and weighed approximately 250 pounds, Lefebvre said.

In a written statement released Nov. 10, Richard and Amy Royer said the deer was a family pet named Comet. Comet had been a Christmas present for their children. The property where he was shot was clearly marked, the Royers said.

“Our property is (clearly) marked off with "No Trespassing" signs, "No Hunting" signs and one big eyesore of a chest with "No Hunting, Red Deer Farm" -- but somehow this hunter had not seen any of our signs. The chest freezer was less distance away from the spot where the hunter was standing than Comet was when he shot and killed him.”

The Royers said they previously allowed access to their property by written permission only, but will never allow hunting on their property again as a result of this event.

“Hunters with the mind set of ‘If it’s brown it’s down’, and the blatant disregard of the landowner’s rights gives all sportsmen a bad name,” the statement said. “{We} feel for the quality sportsman, the person that always asks before crossing through and is honest with his or her bag limits, but they are becoming very rare.”

Contacted for comment, Griffin apologized for shooting the deer, but added that he did not see any signs, or any other evidence it was a domestic animal. “I was all legal other than I didn’t see the signs,” he said. “That was my stupid mistake. The deer was 100 yards off in the field. You didn’t see the signs six feet from the vehicle.”

Griffin said he was unaware there were red deer in Maine although he has heard of red deer farms. He has seen other deer in the same field on previous occasions and thought he was in a legal hunting area, Griffin said.

“Like I said, I apologize, it was a simple mistake,” Griffin said. “I know it was a mistake. Hopefully they won’t go too hard on me.”

According to information posted on the Maine Deer and Elk Farmers Assn. website, red deer are originally from Europe where they were once raised on large estates for hunting purposes. Red deer have been raised as farm animals in China for over 2000 years. The popularity of red deer farming is well established in New Zealand and Great Britain and becoming so in the United States.

Red Deer are the largest known species of deer and closely related to elk. Mature stags average around 450-500 pounds. Adult hinds average around 250 pounds.

By Sherwood Olin

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