West Virginia law enforcement officials say they’ve charged a Boone County man for killing a trophy buck during the state’s deer firearm season.
Emmett Estep, 44, of Bloomingrose, faces a variety of charges — not because he killed the deer, which was in season, but because he allegedly shot over a busy highway to do so.
“Mr. Estep has been charged with hunting from a motor vehicle, shooting across a public highway, shooting within 25 yards of a vehicle, and with illegal possession of wildlife,” said Capt. Terry Ballard of the state Natural Resources Police.
According to Estep’s statement, given to NRP officer Dakoda Chaptin, Estep was traveling along Route 3, near Bloomingrose, when he saw a deer running alongside his vehicle.
Estep then backed up to a wide spot on the opposite side of the road, took a .300-caliber Winchester Magnum rifle from his vehicle, and shot the buck from a distance of approximately 35 yards, the statement said.
A video, posted later on Facebook, showed Estep taking the shot just after a vehicle passed under his line of fire. The buck, which dropped in its tracks, rolled down a steep embankment to a ditch alongside the road.
Ballard said Chaptin soon received a tip about the incident and, after seeing the Facebook video, questioned Estep at his residence.
“[Estep’s] initial story was that he had hunted the deer on someone’s property, but when officer Chaptin told him he’d seen the video, he came clean,” Ballard said.
In addition to the other charges, Ballard said Estep has been assessed an “enhanced replacement charge” of $1,500. Under West Virginia law, people who illegally kill bucks with trophy antlers must pay charges higher than the basic $200 replacement fee.
The enhanced charges, which range from $1,000 to $2,500, are determined by a sliding scale based on the antlers’ width.
The antlers on Estep’s buck had a 17-inch spread. Ballard said the rack green-scored 174 inches gross and 169 inches net on the Pope and Young Club scoring scale.
Ballard said Estep has until Dec. 13 to answer the charges in court.