Charges are pending against a hunter after the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources determined that a well-known neighborhood deer was killed illegally in Richmond. The shooting of the deer came to light earlier this month when a hunter posted on social media with claims that he killed the 29-point white-tailed buck in Prince Edward County.
Others recognized the buck in the photos, due to its large, unusual antlers, and accused the initial hunter of lying about the animal's demise.
"The primary suspect sent photos of himself with the nontypical 29-point buck to a Facebook page, claiming to have killed the buck in Prince Edward County, Virginia, with a muzzleloader,"
Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Division Major Ryan Shuler wrote in an email. "Members of the hunting and wildlife viewing communities alerted DWR Law Enforcement that they recognized the buck pictured as one that frequented the Hollywood Cemetery in the Oregon Hill neighborhood of Richmond, expressing concern that the buck had been killed illegally."
Officers contacted the person who posted the photos and through an interview determined that the deer was killed illegally.
"The illegal killing of the Hollywood Cemetery buck is a serious violation of Virginia’s wildlife laws and will be a priority for the Conservation Police Officers assigned to the investigation until all leads have been exhausted, all evidence has been collected, and those involved have been charged,” Major Ryan Shuler, who serves as the Deputy Chief of DWR Law Enforcement. said.
Bill Draper, who has regularly photographed the Hollywood Cemetery buck over the last three years, called the animal one in a million.
"The first time I saw someone post a picture of it on Facebook, I thought it was photoshopped," Draper said. "He was such an exceptional animal with nontypical antlers. He grew them all on his own (without hormones) in the City of Richmond."
Draper, who first took photos of the buck in December 2020, said too many people knew about the Hollywood Cemetery buck, so once the photos of the dead deer were posted online, people knew things didn't add up.
"Oh my God. There's no question it was him. I have [photos of] every angle of that deer," Draper said. "He was one of ours. He lived in our neighborhoods."
Bob Smet, with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, said he could not discuss this specific investigation, but he said typically an illegal killing means an animal was killed in a location where hunting is not allowed, killed outside of a legal hunting season, or killed during a time of day when hunting is not allowed.
The investigation into the shooting death of the buck remains ongoing.
This story was originally published by Scripps News Richmond.
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