Man faces charges for hunting incident
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | December 05,2012
BENNINGTON — A Woodford Road resident is facing criminal charges after police said they believed he leaned across the front seat of a truck and fired out the window at a deer on Nov. 24.
Joshua P. Hayes, 21, of Bennington, was arraigned in Bennington criminal court on Monday on misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, using an illegal method of taking game and failure to take big game. Hayes pleaded innocent to the charges and was released without bail.
Hayes was also charged with four counts of violating his probation from four charges in four different cases.
In July 2011, Hayes pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and being a minor in possession of alcohol and no contest to a misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of a crash which caused property damage. In December 2011, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of unlawful trespass.
Hayes was placed on probation in all four of the cases.
In an affidavit, Josh Hungerford, a game warden with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he was contacted by the Vermont State Police dispatcher on Nov. 24. Hungerford said he was told that a caller had reported someone shooting from the road around 11 a.m. that day.
The caller was able to provide the license plate of the sports utility vehicle from which the shot came.
Hungerford said he and Officer Lawrence Cole, of the Bennington Police Department, spotted the SUV and Cole initiated a traffic stop.
According to the affidavit, Hayes was driving the SUV and a large, six-pointed, antlered, white tail deer was in the back tagged with a Vermont bear tag.
Hungerford said when Hayes showed his hunting license, the bear tag had been removed but the buck tag was still affixed to the license.
Hayes denied shooting the deer from the SUV or from the road.
Later that day, Hungerford spoke to area residents who allegedly heard the shot and saw two men leaving the SUV and running into the woods.
Hungerford said he spoke with the man who called in the complaint on Nov. 25. The man said he had been driving on South Stream Road when he heard the shot.
In the affidavit, Hungerford said the man told him he immediately looked toward the SUV and saw the gun barrel being coming up from the driver’s side window. He said a man matching Hayes’ description was in the passenger seat and an older man was driving.
The man complained to Hungerford that the shooter did not seem to be paying attention to other drivers and could have shot him.
“The carelessness taken by Hayes while in use of a firearm put not only himself but the operator of his vehicle and other motorists in extreme danger. When leaning across the driver’s seat from the passenger seat to take the shot, Hayes limited his field of view tremendously,” Hungerford said.