Montana's 2021 general big game rifle season came to a close Sunday. Harvest numbers were lower than average this year, but we sure hope you filled your tags.

Whether you filled them or not, we in good faith assume you went about it the right way. That sure wasn't the case for a Montana man facing all sorts of charges that will likely not sit well with all you ethical hunters out there.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that wardens charged a Shepherd, Montana man with 18 misdemeanor crimes as the result of three deer poaching incidents investigated at the Ah-Nei Recreation Area northeast of Billings last month.

Brayden Reed, 18, is charged with three counts of hunting without a license, three counts of hunting during a closed season, three counts of unlawful use of artificial light, three counts of waste of game, three counts of unlawful possession of game, two counts of killing over a bag limit and one count of hunting on private property without landowner permission. The case got legs and gained momentum thanks to information called in to 1-800-TIP-MONT, the FWP call-in line to report crimes involving fish, wildlife, parks and other natural resources. It sounds like Mr. Reed did all he could to put his stamp on nearly every one of those categories.

He is accused of spotlighting and shooting two mule deer bucks and removing antlers and backstraps, then left the rest of the animals to waste. Also, a live tree was cut down and burned and numerous beverage cans were scattered in the recreation area.  Reed is also accused of spotlighting and shooting a third deer on private property, where he did not have permission to trespass. As with the other two animals, the backstraps were removed and the rest was left to waste.

Reed did not have a Montana deer license at the time of the poaching incidents, which all occurred even before the general deer season opened on Oct. 23. No details were made available about sentencing or sentencing date.

Our congratulations to Montana FWP wardens and thanks to the conscientious effort made by an anonymous citizen to call 1-800-TIP-MONT.

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