Idaho Falls man sentenced to prison for illegal hunting, breaking probation

March 7, 2019

An Idaho Falls man who was caught illegally hunting big game while on probation was sentenced Wednesday to up to 10 years in prison.

District Judge Bruce Pickett delivered sentences in two cases involving Cody Nelson, 31. Nelson pleaded guilty to felony unlawful killing of a moose and illegal possession of a firearm and a controlled substance, which were charges he received in October.

Pickett sentenced Nelson to two years fixed and three years indeterminate in prison on those charges and four years fixed and six years indeterminate for violating the terms of the probation he had received in August. The two sentences will run concurrently.

According to the affidavit from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Nelson was first questioned by Fish and Game officials in October when another hunter witnessed him hunting on private property. During a search of his home, officials found the remains of four mule deer and a moose along with three guns and traces of methamphetamine.

Nelson admitted that he had been hunting without a license, which had been suspended when he was placed on probation, but said it was necessary to feed his wife and kids.

Fish and Game officials later found a video Nelson had taken of himself hunting deer in September. The video, which the state attorney showed in court, depicted Nelson using a bow and arrow to fire at mule deer from the open door of a slow-moving van, which was being driven by a 14-year-old relative. It was unclear in the video whether any deer were hit or killed by Nelson that day.

Nelson was arrested by the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 1 after attempting to flee the police on foot from the Walmart parking lot in Ammon.

Nelson still awaits sentencing for felony injury of child and attempting to flee a police officer. A sheriff’s office deputy had approached Nelson and his family in late 2018 while he attempted to tow his car.

Video from the officer’s dash cam shows the deputy pull his gun on Nelson as he begins to drive away, reportedly with five children in his van. The deputy briefly pursued the van but stopped after Nelson began driving recklessly, later writing in the report that Nelson used the children as human shields. No date has been set for sentencing in that case.