The incidents of poaching, or illegal hunting, in Montana have been increasing recently. The most recent crime was in the Bitterroot Valley.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported the poaching of a mule deer buck that was shot and left for dead in the southern Bitterroot Valley. Wardens say the carcass was found near Conner and they've determined that the 4x4 buck was shot Tuesday, November 10th, in the afternoon, between noon and just after sunset. The deer was a small buck, about three years old. It was found 30 feet from the Robbins Gulch road. The area is south of Darby, near Conner, in Hunting District 270.

The wardens are hoping that since the incident was recent the public may have some tips to lead to who was responsible. You can be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction and there's an additional $500 reward from the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association.

There have been several instances of poaching just this fall in other areas of the state and with such a large area to cover, the FWP wardens need the public's help in investigating the crimes. The TIP-MONT phone number is 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668).

And, a reminder, all hunters in the Bitterroot hunting districts need to stop by the weekend Darby FWP check station on their way out of the woods - whether they're successful or not. The check station stop won't take much time and the details FWP gets help in determining how the hunt is progressing. You can also report any violations at that time, too.