Last December, we posted the story of one Ryan Paul Jackson, a then-19-year-old who cut the fence at a deer farm about 20 miles from my home and shot a 21-point buck with his bow. Jackson then dragged the buck from the enclosure, registered it at a local gas station, and proceeded to haul it around town for bragging and posing for photo sessions.
He even posted photos of the buck on his Facebook page before hiring a taxidermist to do the mount. But not so surprisingly, Jackson’s glory was short-lived. Within days of his night poaching raid, authorities had confiscated the buck’s head and Jackson was in jail.
The buck Jackson killed was valued somewhere between $15,000-$20,000. During the theft, 10 other deer escaped the enclosure, including two other adult bucks of lesser monetary value than the 21-pointer. Eight of the deer returned to the pen, but the two bucks remain at large.
According to [the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin](http://www.postbulletin.com/news/stories/display.php?id=1503376&query=”deer poacher”), Jackson pled guilty to a charge of theft, while three other charges against him were dropped. He was fined $54,176.25 in restitution costs, was sentenced to 120 days in the county jail, and will be on probation for 10 years, during which he cannot hunt, trap or fish.
In poaching cases, we’re always measuring the punishment against the crime. It’s pretty typical to feel the violator got off easy, and we scream for more jail time or bigger fines. Those reactions are fine; when we collectively holler “Throw the book at him!” it shows our unified disdain for lawbreaking. But I think Jackson’s punishment is pretty nearly appropriate. Jackson is barely 20 years old and, it seems, not overly bright. Many of us did something spectacularly stupid when we were his age. Also, his fine is a substantial setback, considering the economy. I wouldn’t have lost sleep if Jackson had lost DNR privileges for life, but a decade hiatus is, I suppose, enough. Jackson will be 30 when he can buy a license again. Perhaps by then he’ll have had time to realize what a colossal idiot he was as a teenager, and decide to act in a more honorable manner as he matures.