Columbia Co. teen receives meat from stolen 22-point trophy buck

LODI, Wis. — After a 15-year-old’s successful hunting experience was literally taken away from him, the story has a happier ending topped off with a delicious dinner.

Garrett Diehm shot a buck in Columbia County on opening weekend for the nine-day gun-deer hunting season. The buck had 22 points, making it an incredible hunt for both him and his family

His mother Sarah Diehm said the buck was stolen off of their property in the time it took the boy and his family to run back to the house to let his grandparents know.

“It was just very unexpected,” said Sarah Diehm. “It was in our yard, basically. It’s a private area. There’s no public land back there.”

RELATED: ‘I was just amazed and really mad’: Columbia Co. teen’s trophy buck stolen; viral Facebook posts helps get deer back

On Friday, Paul Nadolski, the Department of Natural Resources warden behind the investigation, said a part of what made this situation so puzzling could be credited to the way harvested deer is reported to the DNR.

“In past history, there were several species of animals that we actually sent a physical form of a tag of some kind of (to) put on the animal,” said Nadolski. “In recent years, the department has decided to go away from that and pretty much do virtual type of ways of keeping track of this stuff.”

Diehm’s deer wasn’t entered digitally. However, a different digital method in the form of the viral Facebook post ended up being a key factor for law enforcement in Columbia County to find the thief.

“More or less now what we see is if somebody does do good, they will take pictures and post on social media,” said Nadolski.

The deer’s skin and head were later returned to the boy, but the person who took it had already taken it to a meat processing plant. The meat has now been returned to the family and has been celebrated over venison dinner. Sarah Diehm said the amount of meat this buck had just shows the value of what was nearly lost.

“It ended up being 43 pounds of ground venison,” she said. “I think we had about 14 packs of the steaks. Forty-three pounds of ground meat is a lot of meat. I think it’s about five bucks a pound in the store right now.”

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the DNR have wrapped up their investigations. They’ve sent things off to the district attorney’s office, where charges will follow soon, according to Nadolski.

Now that the situation is said and done for Diehm, he says it is a story that he will never forget.

“I’m just excited to do more hunting now,” he said.