Updated, Dec. 13, 2019 with suspect info
A Southwest Washington man is suspected of shooting and killing four blacktails, including a buck, during an alcohol-fueled nighttime poaching spree last September.
WDFW reports that felony charges of unlawful big game hunting have been forwarded to the Cowlitz County Prosecutor’s Office against the Toutle resident. The Daily News of Longview subsequently identified him as Mathew Lipscomb, who is in his mid-40s.
According to officers, it began when an anonymous tipster phoned Washington State Patrol dispatch after dark to report hearing several shots and spotting a vehicle with a spotlight.
When Fish and Wildlife Officer Blaine Corey arrived on the scene off South Toutle Road he discovered a Jeep that had been high-centered on a stump in a clearcut, and with a man inside.
“The subject was found to have been consuming alcohol and was in possession of a spotlight and two rifles. When asked about the shooting he denied shooting any animal,” WDFW Police reported on Facebook.
While the driver was initially arrested for DUI, Corey’s initial search in the dark didn’t turn up any evidence, so game wardens planned to come back in the morning.
Ravens circling the clearcut helped Sgt. Patrick Anderson home in on the carcasses of a doe and two fawns, and a fourth deer, a young buck, was also found close to where the Jeep had gotten stuck.
With that information, Corey got a search warrant for the vehicle, which had deer hair and blood on both the hood and bumper.
“In the back was a length of rope with blood and hair on it as well. Spent shell casings from both rifles were located inside the cab of the Jeep,” WDFW Police reported.
Wardens believe that the man shot all four deer that evening and that when Corey arrived, he dumped them, shut off his lights and tried to back up but went off the road onto the stump and got stuck.
Just desserts for an alleged spree shooter.
What’s more, a law passed in 2011 allows poachers who shoot three or more deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, caribou, cougars, black bears or grizzly bears within 24 hours or “course of events” to be charged straight away with unlawful hunting in the first degree, a class C felony.
Previously, offenders had to have a previous wildlife misdemeanor within the past five years to get hit with that charge.
Rifle deer season in that part of Washington don’t open until mid-October, and neither night hunting nor spotlighting is allowed. Neither is shooting more than one deer.
The man’s rifles and the Jeep were all seized for forfeiture.
WDFW Police gave a shout out to Corey, a relatively new officer, “for his determination to pursue this case,” as well as the heroic tipster who thought something was wrong and called it in.
“Without citizens reporting incidents, cases like this would go unsolved,” officers said.