Convicted poacher receives sentence

By David Irvin

By David Irvin
CNJ STAFF WRITER
david_irvin@link.freedom.com
The Clovis man charged with killing and beheading five deer last year has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and slapped with a $1,000 fine.
Darin Hunt, 22, was convicted of five counts of unlawful hunting, five of waste of game and five of unlawful possession of deer, according to a press release from the district attorney’s office.
Hunt shot and killed four white tail and one mule deer on Dec. 29 north of Bellview in Curry County, officials said.
He then gathered the deer carcasses and transported them to a nearby field where he beheaded them and left the remains. A few days later, a traffic stop in Clovis led police and Department of Game and Fish investigators to link the slaughtered deer with the truck Hunt was driving. Blood and hair samples from the truck were matched to the dead deer found outside of town, officials said.
“The incident isn’t uncommon at all,” said Mike Perry, who investigated the case for the Department of Game and Fish. “What makes this incident unique is the number of animals that are involved. Five deer — that’s a lot of deer.”
Each charge is classified as a petty misdemeanor, Perry said, and Hunt could have faced up to 7 1/2 years in jail and $6,100 in fines. However, the 30-day sentence pleased Perry.
“Wildlife crimes aren’t viewed as serious crimes in a lot of counties,” Perry said. “I’m very impressed with Curry County Magistrate that they decided to do that (impose jail time); it just doesn’t happen that much.”
Additionally, Perry said the Department of Game and Fish will now pursue civil damages against Hunt in the amount of $250 per deer.
Hunt confessed to the crimes as the investigation proceeded, police said, and led investigators to the heads of the deer, which had been pitched into a field separate of the carcasses.
A slew of tips from concerned citizens and the traffic stop led to the charges against Hunt, Perry said.
“All those tips in and of (themselves), didn’t mean much; but when you put them all together, it sewed a pretty good patch over the hole,” he said.
In addition to the jail time, Hunt must complete 250 hours of community service, receive intense counseling, and serve five years of supervised probation, the press release said. He will not be able to obtain a hunting or fishing license in 38 states, including New Mexico, the release said.
“Poaching robs legitimate sportsman and sportswomen of wildlife, it robs the property owners because they often make a living by selling hunting licenses on their land, and it robs” tax payers of revenues from licenses, District Attorney Matthew Chandler said.
Two others were suspected in the case, but no one else has been arrested.
“Law enforcement still believes there may be two others that may be involved in this,” Chandler said, “but at this point have not been able to establish the level of evidence to make an arrest.”
Hunt could not be contacted for comment. He must report to jail by Aug. 1, Chandler said.