Pennsylvania Game News - January 2011 - 30
Trooper Brininger’s instincts also told him Mary was not telling us the truth, and he started asking about her boyfriend, Judd Mudd, but she still wouldn’t tell us anything. He finally asked if her dad was home, suggesting that maybe we should talk to him about all this. The fear of getting in trouble from her father must have outweighed the three uniformed officers on the front porch and she broke down and told us everything. To our surprise, she admitted to shooting the bear. Dirk asked her again, “We need to see the boots you wear when you’re hunting.” With her head down, she walked back into another room and emerged with a pair of hunting boots. I took the boots and compared them with the photos of the tracks I had found near the kill site. They were a perfect match. She said they were hunting along Smith Road when she saw movement in a brush pile and that, when she fired, the bear emerged from the brush and tried pulling itself away. She told us she was afraid of getting in trouble, so they packed up and left the area. We explained how dangerous it was to shoot at something without identifying it first and told her there is no provision in the game law for mistakenly shooting a bear, so she would be receiving a citation. She said she understood and apologized for her mistake. Before leaving, we told her we would need the rifle she used to shoot the bear. She said that she had borrowed it from her boyfriend and provided Mr. Mudd’s phone number. Dirk placed a call and asked Mudd to bring the rifle over to the house, because we needed to get a serial number off of it.
Mudd answered “You already have the serial number.” Dirk replied, “I do?” Mudd said that Deputy Barry Cooper had cited both him and Mary on the first Saturday of the deer season, at the SGL parking lot, for having loaded guns in their vehicle. He’d taken down the serial number then. Dirk and I realized we had Barry’s citations typed up and ready to file. We pulled them out of the folder and, sure enough, the whole time we’d been driving around trying to figure out who’d shot this bear, the information we were looking for was riding around in the back seat of our vehicle.
Mr. Mudd also told us that he had given the rifle back to his buddy, Bill Griff, because it belonged to his dad, Joe. Joe Griff just happened to be the farmer who reported the bear in the first place. So we headed back to Smith Road and met up with farmer Joe Griff, and he turned over the rifle for testing. As we were leaving, Joe was relaying a lengthy explanation to his son about why you do not lend rifles out to people you do not know. After all the running around and days of working the case, it finally came to an end. Mary Slaughter pled guilty to the charges filed for shooting the bear and Joe Griff got his rifle back. The upside of this experience was that I had the chance to work with some great officers and learn some valuable lessons on my way to becoming a Wildlife Conservation Officer.