HAMILTON — A Corvallis man who pleaded guilty to poaching a trophy deer and letting a bear he illegally killed rot in an unplugged freezer will not be hunting or fishing for the next decade.
Justin Carl Cook, 38, was sentenced Wednesday on felony and misdemeanor charges by Ravalli County District Judge Jeffrey Langton.
The investigation into the case against Cook began a year ago when someone called a game warden to report a bad odor coming from a freezer at a cabin on Soft Rock Road east of Corvallis.
According to charging documents, Cook had apparently unplugged the freezer after he was evicted from the cabin a few weeks earlier.
Inside the freezer, wardens discovered a rolled-up deer and bear hide. Neither had licenses attached to them.
They also found wrapped and labeled bear and deer meat that had spoiled.
The state’s licensing system showed that Cook purchased deer licenses in 2008, 2011 and 2014. He had never bought a black bear license or obtained a special mule deer permit required to hunt in that portion of the Bitterroot Valley.
Through a series of interviews with Cook and a woman he was living with at the cabin, wardens learned that Cook had killed a trophy white-tailed deer, a mule deer and a black bear without the proper licenses.
Cook pleaded guilty to a felony and misdemeanor charge on March 15.
On the document he signed, Cook wrote: “I killed a black bear out of necessity, but never reported it, and I took a mule deer without a proper tag.”
Charging documents said Cook also killed a trophy whitetail in 2012 and used another person’s license to tag it.
He told wardens he killed the black bear after it got into his chicken coop and it attacked his dog. Cook didn’t report the attack, failed to surrender the carcass, had never purchased a black bear license or reported the harvest, all of which are required by…