Chilmark police charge man with deer jacking

Following a November summons, Lev Wlodyka was arraigned in District Court last week on multiple charges.

A buck in a Chilmark field. - Tim Johnson

Chilmark resident Lev Wlodyka appeared in Edgartown District Court last Thursday, Jan. 11, on multiple charges stemming from what Chilmark police said was a night of hunting with a crossbow from his truck on Nov. 17.

At the conclusion of the arraignment before Judge Thomas Kirkman, the matter was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 12.

On the night of Nov. 17, Chilmark police were tipped off by an anonymous caller around 11:30 pm, saying there was a silver pickup truck on North Road shining a light into the woods. The caller said he was concerned the driver of the pickup was deer jacking. Deer jacking is hunting deer at night using a powerful light. Shining a bright light on deer often causes them to freeze, making them an easy target.

Chilmark police ran the plate number given by the caller, which was registered to Mr. Wlodyka.

Responding to the call, Officer Jesse Burton said he saw the pickup truck shining a light into a field adjacent to Putnam Road, and after the truck pulled into a residence on North Road, Officer Burton passed and parked nearby at the entrance to Tea Lane. He soon saw another bright beam of light shooting into the woods. He caught up with the silver pickup on Cape Higgon Way, a private, gated road posted “No trespassing” and “No hunting.”

In his report, Officer Burton noted “the bow was drawn and lickedback and there was a bolt (arrow) loaded. The weapon was in a state where it could be immediately fired.” Officer Burton said Mr. Wlodyka told him he was just out for a drive. “I asked Wlodyka if he was only just driving around, what a crossbow was doing on his front seat. He answered the question, asking, ‘What, I can’t have a crossbow?’ I told him that he could not, and the act of driving around at night with a flashlight and crossbow constituted illegal hunting.”

Mr. Wlodyka then told Officer Burton the crossbow belonged to his father.

According to Massachusetts General Law, crossbows can only be used by a person who is permanently disabled and unable to operate a conventional bow and arrow, and he or she must have a physician’s note to obtain the permit.

After Officer Burton confiscated the crossbow, Mr. Wlodyka changed his story, and said he was out looking for a deer he shot earlier in the day.

“I asked Wlodyka where he shot the supposed deer earlier in the day. He could not give me a straight answer,” Officer Burton said.

Officer Burton also noted in his report that Mr. Wlodyka was wearing camouflage pants typically worn by hunters.

Mr. Wlodyka is charged with hunting from a vehicle, hunting without a license, trespassing, hunting on posted property, and hunting with improper means.

The charge of hunting with artificial light can result in a potential fine of up to $10,000 and confiscation of the hunter’s vehicle.

“Enforcement of hunting laws is difficult as typically they occur in the woods away from the general public,” Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren said in an email to The Times. “As it is impossible to calculate the ratio of times hunting law are broken to actually caught by law enforcement, I can only estimate that a very small amount of actual violations head to court.”

Massachusetts Environmental Police Lt. Matt Bass told The Times his department caught a hunter deer jacking in Middleboro on Nov. 19. “We get calls from time to time, but typically these hunters are hard to catch,” he said. “It really gives them an unfair advantage. When you put a light on a deer, you can practically walk up to it.”

The Times was unable to reach Mr. Wlodyka for comment.

Mr. Wlodyka was a central figure in the book “The Big One,” by David Kinney, about the 2007 Derby, where Mr. Wlodyka was the center of controversy after weighing in a potential Derby-winning striped bass which was discovered to have almost two pounds of lead weights in its stomach. After much deliberation, the Derby Committee disqualified the fish but did not suspend Mr. Wlodyka, because a method of fishing known as “yo-yoing” could have potentially been the reason for the fish ingesting the weights. Derby officials later reinstated the fish minus the lead weights.

According to a well-informed source not authorized to speak on behalf of the Derby Committee, at a later Derby Mr. Wlodyka was disqualified from participating in the tournament for rules violations.



  1. This is a rediculus, one sided telling of events. If I didn’t know better, I’d be leave this junk. Every story needs a villain right? This story has no merrit, and will only be potential for the painting of villain to be put on display for wolves, at the cost of integrity and inner-family relationships. Isaac Taylor. Aquinnah.

  2. How is this news? Seems more like slander/libel to me. Considering innocence till proven guilty. The Times is a joke of a newspaper. Growing up I thought journalists were supposed to have some form of integrity. On MV they just need to be good story tellers. 75% of your news is 100% biased, and based on 0% fact. You should all be ashamed of yourselves going out of your way to pick on local good islanders. Time to start digging into these reporters backgrounds see if they even have the credentials to be journalists. Your all a joke!!!

  3. Did you read the article? Do you have no respect for laws concerning wildlife also? The man was caught red handed. The only thing he didn’t do was pull the trigger. I also hunt, but I chose to buy a license and chose to obey by the rules and regulations that are clear to us all. I also put in my time, up in a tree for hours on end during legal shooting hours waiting for an opportunity. Prowling the backroads at night, looking to snipe a deer so that you can show it’s antlers on Facebook is nothing short of a coward. Do you think that the police should have sent him on his way and said good job son? Read the article again. The only wolf in that article is the guy who had a crossbow in his front seat, shining a spot light in search of an easy kill.

  4. Wow, Imantaylor this man is obviously a friend of yours. I agree with island girl and well said. A big thank you to the Chilmark police for doing their job, helping to protect wildlife and most importantly keeping the public safe. I’ve had “road riders” (the softened up name that poachers give themselves to make themselves feel like they aren’t committing a crime) shoot at deer very close to my property. There is a very high potential for things to go wrong when someone is shooting out of a car window, at night, with a spotlight. It doesn’t matter whether it is a shotgun or a crossbow. Imantaylor, would you want this guy prowling around your neighborhood launching arrows around? The fact that you are the only guy defending this man speaks volumes. If you don’t want your name in the paper at the cost of “inner-family relationships” don’t act like a bonehead. God forbid the paper writes a story about an alleged crime. Thank you MV Times for printing the story, this is exactly the type of person I’d like to avoid in my “inner-family relationships.”

    • I like Lev, I grew up in the neighboring town, and he’s about my age. I am not condoning misconduct. I’m not defending driving around at night with a crossbow. The issue I have doesn’t really concern Lev. I feel that the story was not well told. There is another side of the story, and the stain that sensationalised negativity has on our island community, told through stories like this, and comments like yours (PK)
      are more damaging than our sweet little community can afford.

      • It’s not a sweet little community any more, and it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s a community with a severe addiction problem leading to deaths and robberies, a severe housing shortage, severe doctor shortage, severe overpricing so bad that people can’t raise children here and old people have to move off to get better help. Living in a bubble doesn’t improve the reality of life for many on the island. And knowing someone and even liking someone does not excuse cheating and lying about the cheating. Small town gossip and small town newspapers are what help keep people on the up and up. Fear of this kind of “outing” keeps most people more honest than they would be without that fear. Your friend got caught and the paper published on it. Next week it will be someone else. What our community can’t afford is misconduct like in this story.

  5. The bigger of a legend you are the more they want to take you down. It’s a bigger story to sell.
    I don’t think imantaylor was ok with the crime as his point that the article added a lot more than needed? The Times doesn’t care if your a doctor police officer or a local, if you do something that can sell papers they will print it.
    Not all those that hunt fish shellfish or farm are sportsman or law abiding citizens. Poaching has been around for a long time. With the cost of eating here so high I would suspect poaching will increase.

  6. How is this NOT news??—the guy appeared in court facing several charges, the article is using info from a police report. Is this somehow not relevant to Island current events?
    He’s (allegedly) trespassing at night, hunting with a crossbow, lying to the police. Personally, I’d like to know that info.
    I’d also like to look him up on FB and put the name with the face. Articles like this, as well as the weekly police reports, shed light on who’s acting like an (insert expletive here) in this community. Maybe it discourages someone from doing the same thing for fear of getting exposed as an idiot in the future. Keep writing these articles MVTimes!
    And if Lev Wlodyka has something to say he can write a letter to the editor, or Have Isaac or Bornand raised write it for him—-just dont forget to spellcheck!

  7. A disgrace to hunters. Even worse then sitting above a bunch of apples in my mind. At least that person isn’t endangering the public. Indefensible actions. I love the great excuse he came up with. Uh, when I was illegally hunting without a license earlier today with my illegal crossbow, I made a bad shot and now I’m illegally hunting again, at night, from the comfort of my heated vehicle. What’s the problem officer? Play by the rules and you don’t end up in the paper, son. Play by the rules and you don’t get slapped with a fine, a loss of your hunting license, loss of your vehicle and whatever else the judge feels like slapping on. In the past, these types of violators have been slapped on the wrist. It’s time to set an example to convey to the next guy contemplating such actions that maybe there are consequences. Hunting is a privilege and we here in Massachusetts have 10 weeks to hunt deer. If you can’t make it happen during legal hunting hours six days a week well then, I’ve got no sympathy for you. Thankfully, there isn’t a reward for the biggest deer shot on the island. I can only imagine what lengths some people would go to get their “trophy.”

  8. Bornandraised- what part is 0% fact? The fact that he was trespassing on private property, that he had a loaded crossbow, that he was spotlighting, that he was hunting from his truck and/or that he didn’t own a hunting license?
    Picking on a good islander? Would it be different if it was someone from NYC?
    I’m sure he’s a nice guy but he’s put himself in positions to be a cheat on land and water. His actions speak volumes.

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