Back on December 14th, a hunter named Jason Walters posted some pictures of a “one-in-a-million” buck he shot with a muzzleloader in Prince Edwards County to a hunting Facebook Page and at surface level, it was nothing more than truly an incredible harvest.
The nontypical whitetail had 29-points and was the “biggest buck” of the hunters life, as well as his third “mounter” this year. All seemed okay until some local residents began realizing the deer looked a lot like a very well known buck that the community has rallied around in recent years, which opened a big can of worms for Mr. Walters.
Comments began pouring in on the Facebook page saying the deer looked awfully like one that many people recognized as living at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Further investigation leads to this kill looking very suspicious.
For starters, Richmond is surrounded by Henrico County. Prince Edwards County is an hour and 20 minute drive from Richmond (according to Google Maps, distance obviously varies depending on where in the county you go) but given the average home-range of a whitetail is around a square mile, it’s unlikely this deer suddenly decided to make a 70 mile journey to a new county.
Scripps News spoke to Bill Draper, a local photographer, who had spotted this buck in and around Richmond since 2020.
“Oh my God. There’s no question it was him. I have [photos of] every angle of that deer. He was one of ours. He lived in our neighborhoods.”
According to Virginia Hunting Regulations, firearms, including muzzleloaders, are not permitted to be used in the City of Richmond, and all hunting is archery only. The season runs from November 18th to January 6th, meaning it wasn’t taken out of season, but not in the proper manner.
The Richmond Times Dispatch confirmed that charges against Walters are pending after investigators determined the buck’s killing violated state law.
Wildlife Service Major Ryan Shuler said the following:
“The illegal killing of the Hollywood Cemetery buck is a serious violation of Virginia’s wildlife laws and will be a priority for the Conservation Police Officers assigned to the investigation until all leads have been exhausted, all evidence has been collected, and those involved have been charged.”
Virginia law states that those who illegally harvest a deer will be charged with a Class 2 or 3 misdemeanor and will be prohibited from hunting for up to 5 years and potentially face up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The investigation is still underway and Walters has not yet been arrested or charged, but it appears clear that stiff penalties are coming down soon.
Commentors on the Facebook page have expressed outrage at the killing, showing just how loved this buck was in and around Richmond.
“This is truly sad”
“This post was a wild ride. I can never get enough of people posting the crimes they commit on social media.”
“Uh yeah, if you’re a hunter and from this area, you know about this deer. What a shame. Outlaws have zero respect for the animals or the outdoor/conservation way of life the rest of us hunters with integrity strive to protect.”
“The boys in green are gonna love this one!”
There was also a few Oliver Anthony memes posted since this took place (allegedly) in Richmond, which I thought was pretty funny.
There’s a few times when I think outdoors regulations go a bit to far, but if this deer was harvested with the wrong weapon in a place where hunting is not allowed, it’s a clear case of a hunter going too far.
I hope justice is brought down and this serves as an example for anyone who gets the idea that they don’t need to follow the rules as written.