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State agencies, hunting clubs claim Watertown hunter falsified record buck statement

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There will be no spot in the record books for Wayne N. Long II, a Watertown hunter who claimed to have killed a state record buck in Rutland Corners on Thursday.

Instead, he received a ticket Tuesday from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for filing a false statement.

Mr. Long claimed he bagged the non-typical deer, which recorded a Boone and Crockett score of about 220, while hunting in the town of Rodman on property belonging to a family friend. The state record score in the category is 210 and 4/8.

But officials of the company that certifies rack sizes said they believe he shot the deer on a deer farm, then took the deer to Rutland Corners, where he was photographed with his prize.

When called Tuesday afternoon by a Times reporter about the challenge to his story, Mr. Long denied receiving a DEC ticket, and hung up before he could be asked any other questions.

The Boone and Crockett organization, along with several hunting associations and clubs across the state, refuses to acknowledge farm-raised deer for its record books. In a position statement on its national website, Boone and Crockett says it opposes the practice, also referred to as a canned shoot, because it affects the relationship between predator and prey.

Matthew J. Cooper, a local scorer for Boone and Crockett and vice president of the New York State Big Buck Club, said he realized something was amiss when he was called by Mr. Long to measure the deer at Wilderness Walt’s Taxidermy, 10641 Station Road, Lowville.

Mr. Cooper said hunters will “periodically” enter an ineligible deer for record attempts.

“I give hunters the benefit of the doubt every time. ... it’s a very happy moment for them,” Mr. Cooper said. “I want to share and contribute to their special moment. It’s very disappointing to see someone make an attempt to defraud the record book.”

Measuring the buck Friday afternoon, Mr. Cooper asked to take the deer’s lower jaw, which can be used to estimate its age. He said he determined the deer was about 2 years old, which he felt was not old enough to have naturally developed that size of antlers.

Suspicious, Mr. Cooper then had Mr. Long take him to the reported kill site, off Jacobs Road. Mr. Cooper was surprised when Mr. Long told him the deer fell about 30 feet after being hit. Mr. Cooper said most deer hit by an arrow travel 50 to 100 yards before falling.

“They have to bleed to death,” Mr. Cooper said.

He said there was no blood near the area of the deer’s reported death.

“The kill site was unrealistic,” Mr. Cooper said.

He said he was able to learn enough by Friday evening that he could tell Mr. Long that his deer was farm-raised, and as a result would not be eligible. Mr. Cooper said he gave Mr. Long two options: Either remove the record attempt request or he would be forced to prove publicly that the deer is ineligible.

Mr. Cooper said Mr. Long told him he would withdraw his request.

Mr. Long met with a Times reporter to talk about the deer late Friday afternoon, after the Times was contacted earlier in the day by his girlfriend, Mandy Petrie. Mr. Long also did not mention the questions about the deer’s eligibility when called by the Times on Saturday and Monday about submitting a photo.

After a story about Mr. Long and his hunt was printed in the Times on Tuesday, Mr. Cooper said, he left a phone message for Mr. Long. Mr. Cooper received a phone message later from Mr. Long, telling him again he would not attempt to set a record with the deer.

“He’s put himself in an awkward position,” Mr. Cooper said.

A message left with the taxidermy shop’s owner, Walter A. Graf, was not returned Tuesday afternoon. An email message to Ms. Petrie on Tuesday afternoon requesting comment did not receive a response.

Stephen W. Litwhiler, a DEC spokesman, said Mr. Long, 39, of North Pleasant Lane, was given the filing a false report charge instead of one for possession or transport of an improperly tagged deer, which are done mainly for hunters who make an error when filling out their tag.

“This is not just a simple tagging violation,” Mr. Litwhiler said.

Mr. Long also received a ticket Tuesday for third-degree operation of a motor vehicle without a license. The charges are answerable in Harrisburg Town Court.

Mr. Litwhiler said Tuesday afternoon an investigation is ongoing.

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