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Spotlighting Idaho Poacher Sentenced

May 11, 2009.

From Idaho Fish and Game:

With the white-tailed deer in his spotlight, William Gerten, 24, of Grangeville, shot it several times with a .22-caliber rifle on a cold night about a week before Christmas in 2008.

He hit the deer, but he didn't kill it. Using the rifle as a club, he beat the deer to death, breaking the stock on its head.

Nearby, an off-duty Idaho Fish and Game senior conservation officer was on a hunting trip. As he peered out of his tent near the South Fork of the Clearwater River, the officer, Randy Martinez, noticed spotlights working a hill.

He alerted George Fischer, the district conservation officer in Grangeville of the suspicious activity. Fischer contacted Idaho County Sheriff's Deputy Zack Nichols, who was closer to the area, and asked him to respond.

Meanwhile, Martinez drove down the remote road and got a license plate number from the suspect vehicle as it passed through the area.

Gerten must have realized he was in trouble. He threw the deer, spotlights and rifle off a cliff to get rid of the evidence - too late.

Nichols arrived a short time later, and he and Martinez discovered a fresh warm gut pile in the 10-degree night near the area where Martinez had seen the spotlights.

Fischer knew the vehicle and the residence where it was usually parked in Grangeville. He coordinated with Grangeville Police Officer Wes Walters to watch for the vehicle.

Shortly after 1 a.m. Gerten's pickup truck was located at the residence. He denied any hunting activity that night. But Fischer noticed blood spatters in the back of the truck and shortly there after obtained a full confession.

Fischer, with Gerten's help, located and salvaged the deer and the evidence shortly before the sun came up that morning. Gerten was cited December 16.

On January 9, 2009, Gerten pleaded guilty in Idaho Magistrate Court in Grangeville to killing a deer during a closed season, using a spotlight and exceeding the bag limit.

His sentence on the three charges included:

  • $1,799.00 in fines and restitution.
  • Hunting privileges revoked for 10 years.
  • 90 days in jail, all but 10 days suspended.
  • 4 years probation.
  • Forfeiture of the firearm and spotlight used in the crime.

If he fails to successfully complete the probationary period then additional fines and jail time could be imposed.


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