New details on the largest Wyoming mule deer poaching case


Nate Strong poaching case update on Wyoming mule deer buck
230" gross score Wyoming mule deer buck poached by Nate Strong. Photo credit: Jason Radakovich

Once again the Nate Strong poaching case of a 230" mule deer is taking more twisted turns.

If you want to read the background on this poaching case, you can read Part One here and Part Two here.

Recently there was a motion by Strong’s attorney, Gaston Gosar, to extend the deadlines once again. An order by the Judge granted it. Gosar claims he is trying to find an expert to show the poached mule deer isn’t a genetically pure mule deer (a whitetail/mule deer hybrid).

Nate Strong poached Hoback Wyoming mule deer mount with hunt expo sign

Photo credit: Jason Radakovich

The Affidavit clearly shows that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) Forensic Laboratory positively identified the poached buck as a mule deer. Also, Strong already claimed this was a mule deer at the 2016 Western Hunting Expo (check out the sign below the deer mount in the above photo). Since he is having a difficult time finding an expert, he wants to push this case out as far as possible.

There is a big problem with this and that is time. It seems Gosar and Strong are trying to push back this trial as long as possible. Time is a defense attorney's best friend.

Another issue at hand, Sublette County Deputy Attorney Carly Anderson agreed to the extension, so if Gosar finds an expert to examine the mule deer in greater depth, then Carly would need to file for another continuance to review the findings, relay that information to her expert, and then have them review the expert’s findings and finally get back to her so she can prepare for trial. Which will again push things back.

What could have been done?

Well, Anderson should have forced a motion hearing to make him prove that good faithed efforts were being made to find and hire an expert to re-examine the buck, rather than just agreeing to the extension.

It also looks like Anderson hasn’t filed an expert witness designation yet, which could be a problem if she missed the deadline. Anderson did file a notice of intent to introduce prior bad act evidence that he cut the tail off of the deer to show motive and intent. This was most likely a statement by Strong since only the head was recovered and in that instance it becomes an admission of a party opponent as opposed to prior bad act evidence.

Continued below.

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Timetable and case progress

June 2015

  • Nate Strong was successful in drawing a 2015 HA138 Type 3 Deer License.
  • The license was for a specific location (Area 138) in Sublette County and for a whitetailed deer only.
  • Nate was allowed to take a second buck during the 2015 season, but the second deer had to be a whitetail deer.

September 2015

  • Nate Strong took a velvet mule deer with his bow on a general deer tag. See photo here

October 2015

  • October 7 - mule deer season ended in Area 138.

November 2015

  • November 7 - Group of locals last saw the buck alive while closing up their cabins for the winter.
  • November 14 - Nate Strong knowingly took the 230" mule deer without proper license and during a closed season.
  • November 27 - Nate Strong brought the antlers and cape out of Wyoming to Monarch Mountain Taxidermy in Utah.

February 2016

  • February 13 - Wyoming Game Warden Adam Hymas contacted Jim Gregory, a Wyoming Wildlife Investigator for the WGFD, about an alleged illegal taking of a very large nontypical mule deer during a closed season.
  • February 13 at 4:00 p.m - Utah Conservation Officer Rick Olson located the nontypical buck at the Western Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • February 16 - Jim Gregory got a search warrant and seizure request for Nate Strong’s mule deer buck.
    • That same day, Nate admitted that he had killed the nontypical buck and placed his whitetail deer license on the mule deer.
  • February 24 - The mounted nontypical mule deer buck was delivered to the WGFD Forensic Laboratory for species and gender identification due to the claims it was a whitetail/mule deer hybrid.

March 2016

  • March 18 - The forensic laboratory confirmed the deer was a mule deer.

April 2016

April 11 — Arraignment hearing

  • 11:00 a.m. - Arraignment hearing was held for Nate Strong at the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial District in Sublette County.
  • 11:24 a.m.  Nate Strong pleads not guilty in the arraignment hearing and the case is now going to trial.
  • Pre-trial is set for July 25, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. and if needed, the jury trial is set for August 23 at 9:30 a.m.

June 2016

  • June 15 - Wyoming Game and Fish turned over forensic testing
  • June 21 - Nate Strong drew another HA138 Type 3 Deer License
    • This is the same area he poached the deer in 2015

July 2016

July 7, 2016 — Trial pushed back

  • Jury trial pushed back to October 25, 2016.
  • New updates to the case can be found here.
  • Strong allowed to hunt in 2016 before the case.

September 2016

  • September 1 - The 2016 big game hunting season opened
  • September 22 - Motion hearing on September 22 at 1:30 p.m.
    • It's still unclear what the motion hearing is about, but it could be the judge addressing the prior bad act issue.
  • September 26 at 9:30 a.m. - Pre-Trial date

October 2016

  • October 25, 2016 — Jury trial scheduled

In conclusion

Even though poachers don't need hunting tags in order to commit crimes, he still should not be allowed to hunt while under investigation.

Once again, not only did Strong take the life of a trophy deer, he took the buck from all law abiding citizens of Wyoming, sportsmen, outdoorsman, hunters, and trophy deer admirers across the west. Poaching is never tolerated and poachers are not hunters.

Currently, Strong has a valid hunting tag for the 2016 and could be out hunting because his case is pending. But, like the previous poaching cases in Sublette County, Strong does not deserve to have the privilege of hunting while his case is ongoing. Thanks again to a certain group of people who have helped me with the details of this case. Without them, poachers would continue to steal our wildlife.


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