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Louisiana man sentenced on gun charge after killing deer near Baker

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Posted at 3:21 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 17:21:50-04

A Louisiana man who admitted to illegal gun possession after telling authorities he shot a deer in the Baker area was sentenced to more than a year in prison in federal court in Billings.

Matthew Stephen Hays, 32 of Rayville, La., pleaded guilty in November to prohibited person in possession of a firearm. His full sentence is 15 months in prison and three years supervised release, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a news release.

Prosecutors said in court documents that Montana state game wardens were investigating reports of deer poaching in January 2019 when they saw a pickup truck, heard four shots, then saw it drive away.

They found a mule deer buck dead from several gunshot wounds about 150 yards from the road where the truck stopped.

Four days later, a warden saw the truck in a parking lot in Baker carrying deer antlers, a rifle and boxes of ammunition. Prosecutors said Hays emerged from a nearby store, walked to the vehicle and was approached by a warden.

He told the warden he had shot the deer, and authorities later learned he had been convicted of felony theft of a firearm in Louisiana in 2014.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.