Bullet, not arrow, brought down poached deer

Oregon State Police troopers used a metal detector to find a bullet lodged in the body of a deer that had been shot during archery season.

Their sleuthing led to the arrest of John Brandon Shawnego, 39, of the 1800 block of Highway 62 north of Eagle Point.

Shawnego has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, a violation of wildlife tag and license requirements and two counts of hunting in violation of wildlife laws. He entered not guilty pleas to the charges Friday and has a pre-trial conference scheduled for April 2, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.

On Nov. 17, 2017, an OSP trooper saw a dead black-tailed buck without a tag in the open bed of Shawnego's pickup truck north of Shady Cove. The deer's antlers were covered with a camouflage coat, a probable cause affidavit alleged.

Shawnego allegedly told the trooper he had left his tag and hunting license at home on his dresser and invited the trooper to follow him home. At his home, Shawnego found his license and an archery-only deer tag for 2017, the probable cause said.

Shawnego knew he was supposed to have the license and tag in his possession while hunting, the affidavit said.

He allegedly told the trooper he had fired one arrow into the deer but could not find the arrow.

"When further inspecting the buck deer, I found that the wounds and injuries on Shawnego's harvested deer where more consistent with a rifle than archery equipment," the trooper wrote in the affidavit. "The season Shawnego was hunting was restricted to archery only. I further observed an entrance wound through the skin of the rear left leg, which was consistent with a bullet and not an archery broad head. I also observed where the bullet left the front of the left leg and entered the abdomen."

The trooper observed the butt stock of a rifle that was under a pile of backpacks in Shawnego's truck. Shawnego allowed the trooper to look at the rifle, which had a spent shell casing inside the chamber, the affidavit alleged.

"Shawnego claimed he was shooting earlier in the day," the trooper wrote.

Shawnego allegedly agreed it looked like the deer had been shot with a rifle, but said the deer appeared to be injured before he shot it using his bow. He denied shooting the deer with a rifle, the affidavit said.

The trooper seized the deer and rifle for further analysis. At the OSP office in Central Point, he and other troopers examined the deer carcass.

"When using a metal detector, a single intact bullet was found in the neck of the deer," the trooper wrote in the affidavit.

The bullet looked consistent with the caliber of Shawnego's gun. It appeared to have traveled through the deer's leg and abdomen and then lodged in the neck, the affidavit said.

The deer was skinned and no evidence of an archery kill was found. The only mortal wounds appeared to come from the bullet. A test fire of Shawnego's gun revealed the bullet in the deer had rifling characteristics consistent with his rifle, the affidavit said.

A criminal background check showed Shawnego was a convicted felon and was not allowed to have the gun, the affidavit said.

He was taken into custody on Nov. 29, 2017, and lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges, the affidavit said.

Shawnego is no longer in jail, according to jail records.

— Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

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