Officials said the men were hunting on Thanksgiving and were pulled over after a witness saw them shoot from the truck and drive off.
“Fresh blood on the tailgate, rear bumper, and floormats of the truck, along with hunting attire, rifles, and spotlights inside the truck supported information from the witness,” the state Department of Environmental Conservation told New York Upstate in a statement.
The men said a 4-point buck had run in front of the vehicle as they were driving on Bradt Hollow Road in Albany County, near Berne. The passenger shot out of the driver’s side window and hit the deer. Then the men stopped and loaded the deer into the back of the truck.
“However, the deer was not dead and approximately a mile down the road the deer jumped out of the bed of the truck,” the agency stated. “They turned around to look for animal and were stopped by Deputies as they tried to flee. The wounded deer was located soon after and put down.”
Officers found two rifles and two spotlights and also discovered both men had suspended drivers licenses.
One of the men had an arrest warrant pending while the other had past hunting violations in Washington County as well as an order that prohibited him from possessing firearms.
On Nov. 24, three more dead deer were discovered in the area and linked to the men.
They received tickets for taking big game deer with the aid of light, shooting within 500 feet of a dwelling, discharging from a public road, having a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, taking by means not specified, and taking deer from a motor vehicle.
Additional charges may be filed.
Deer in New York
Deer in the state are causing increasing problems, the department said on its website, especially in suburban and urban areas.
The deer population was nearly wiped out in the 19th century, prompting officials to work on increasing the deer population. Most of the states in the northeast were successful, but many are now suffering from deer overpopulation.
A big issue is the elimination of wolves and mountain lions, which are historic predators of deer.
“Bears, bobcats, and coyotes do prey on deer, particularly fawns, but hunting by humans is currently the primary predatory force acting to control population levels. The exception is in urban and suburban areas, where the majority of deer deaths are caused by collisions with vehicles,” the department stated.
Deer enjoy edges or transition zones between forest areas and more open habitats, and residential developments and farms fit the bill. The increasing amount of favorable land is contributing to the increase in deer, combined with the dearth of predators and restrictions on hunting.
“Local laws and landowner opinions have severely constrained hunting in many developed areas,” the department said. “The resulting limited mortality combined with abundant food has allowed suburban and urban deer populations to reach extraordinarily high levels.”
The main problems with having too many deer, it noted, is deer-vehicle collisions on roads, deer eating crops or landscaping plants, and spreading Lyme disease.