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Man charged with poaching mule deer at Camp Williams

Published January 18, 2012 7:07 pm

Crime • Soldiers nicknamed deer "The Rabbi" for its antlers.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Prosecutors filed criminal charges against a man accused of killing a trophy mule deer seen so often at Camp Williams that soldiers had given it a nickname.

The deer, called "The Rabbi" for its very large and uniquely shaped antlers, was found dead in the Beef Hollow area on Oct. 24, according to charges filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court. A sergeant found the carcass, which was missing its head, backstraps and hindquarters, while investigating reports of shots fired in the area.

The deer died within 10 feet of where he was shot, about 2 miles within the border of Camp Williams, according to the charges.

The sergeant who found the carcass recognized it as being The Rabbi — a deer he'd seen at least 30 times between the beginning of September and about Oct. 19, charges state.

Camp Williams is closed to hunting, and the sergeant called the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to help investigate.

On Nov. 17, the conservation officer got an anonymous tip that the deer's distinctive antlers had been seen at a taxidermy shop in Sandy. When shown a picture of the deer, the shop's owner confirmed he had skinned the cape from the head of that deer. He told investigators 46-year-old Stephen Rueckert, of Altamont, brought it to him, charges state.

In in interview with investigators, prosecutors say Rueckert admitted that he knew the camp was closed to hunting, and he had been denied permission to hunt there.

Rueckert allegedly admitted he killed the mule deer, saying "That's my deer. I killed that deer." The Rabbi had antlers measuring 37 inches wide, making it a trophy deer worth $8,000, according to the charges.

Rueckert was charged with one count of wanton destruction of protected wildlife, a 3rd degree felony.