So you ran into a deer, now what do you do?
With the fall deer season set to start in a couple of weeks, a lot of hunters will be in the field scouting. Smart ones will stay out until dark as the deer seem to be getting up later in the day to feed.
So here is a scenario that could absolutely happen. And here is the answer on what to do if it does.
It is dark and you are driving down Hualapai Mountain Road heading toward Kingman. At a curve, a small 2x2 buck jumps out on the road and stops. You slam on the brakes, but it’s too late. You hit the buck, and he lands in the road. The buck is dead.
Now what are you going to do?
You move the buck off the road and look at your truck. There is damage but it is still drivable.
Who do you call? You hit a deer, which is wildlife, and it’s a big game animal. So are you going to call the Arizona Game and Fish Department?
The answer is probably not. Hualapai Mountain Road is actually County Road 147 and is under the jurisdiction of the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.
A call to MCSO and a deputy will respond to take the report for insurance purposes.
But what about the deer? It isn’t tore up, appears it only hit its head on the bumper. The meat is still good, even 30 minutes after the accident. Can the driver keep the deer without a tag?
ARS-319A states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this tittle, the carcass of a big game animal that has been killed as a result of an accidental collision with a motor vehicle on a maintained road may be possessed and transported by the driver of the vehicle if the driver first obtains a big game salvage permit issued by a peace office.”
The permit can be issued by any Arizona peace officer; whether they are city, county or state.
Since law enforcement officers from AZGFD are certified peace officers, they can and often do issue these permits.
You as the driver of the vehicle involved in this collision are issued a salvage tag by MCSO, but you have to leave on an out-of-town trip in the morning, so you can’t really field dress or use the deer.
Under ARS 319E, it states: “A person who possess the carcass of a big game animal pursuant to this section may place all or part of the carcass in storage pursuant to section 17-373 or may make a gift of the carcass or parts to another individual.”
So there you go, problem solved.
I have a story to share with you regarding this kind of situation. One day I was at home when I got a knock on my door. I answered and a fellow I didn’t know asked me if I was interested in doing a story on his bighorn ram. I answered yes, and he told me his name. I had the list of permit holders of desert sheep for the previous year, and I didn’t recognize his as being on that list.
He came into the house, we sat down, and I asked him where he had got the ram. He answered: “I think it was in unit 15D?” My thought was: “You THINK it was in Unit 15D.” My gosh, this is one of the most sought-after big game tags in Arizona and you don’t KNOW where you got the ram?
He then asked me if I wanted to see the ram. I said sure, and we went outside. There on the front seat of his old truck was a very nice desert ram that he had obviously just picked up from a taxidermist. I noticed that one horn was shorter than the other, but otherwise it looked like a good ram.
Then came the telling question. “So what did you use to get him,” I asked. He looked me right in the eye and said: “A 1972 Chevrolet pickup!” It was the same one he was driving.
Then he explained he was coming home from Laughlin when a herd of sheep ran across Highway 68 in front of him. He slammed on the brakes, but couldn’t avoid hitting the ram, which was trailing the ewes. (Note this was before ADOT had put up sheep fence along the road.)
He said: “I figured this will be the only ram I ever get in my life, so I decided to have him mounted!”
It all made sense. He had got a salvage tag, and it being legal for him to possess, he had a local taxidermist mount it for him.
Something to remember about these situations. You have to be the driver of the vehicle to get a salvage permit. If you see one lying on the side of the road, you can’t pick it up. Technically wildlife in Arizona is owned by the state, and as such you can’t just pick up a carcass of a big game animal.