Collapse bottom bar
Your Location: You're in the jungle, baby! X
Hunting New York Whitetail

Indie Film Makers Poach NY Deer For Hipster Movie

by Game & Fish Staff   |  April 24th, 2012 29

The film First Winter, which appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival, included a scene in which a deer is killed...illegally.

In the independent film First Winter — a story about a group of naive Brooklyn hipsters that are stuck in upstate New York after an apocalyptic event  —  there’s a scene in which a deer is shot and killed by one of the characters.  According to, the animal was skinned, cleaned, cooked and eaten on camera.

But here’s where things get…ironic.

No one associated with the movie was aware that there are laws involved with killing deer; while they might have had a filming permit, they didn’t have game tags for the pair of deer that were killed and both were shot out of season.

Yes, I wrote pair of deer. Apparently the bullet fired at the first doe passed clean through (killing it) but wounded another that was standing behind it. This sparked the apocalyptic scene that had of a group of hipster movie makers running through the woods with a loaded gun, trying to dispatch the wounded doe.

At some point, Darwin has to take over, right?

Once the production team learned of its mistake, they quickly turned themselves into the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and cooperated with the investigation.

Paul Manza, a real life yoga instructor and the actor in the movie who yanked the trigger, was eventually charged with misdemeanor illegal taking of a whitetail deer and faces a fine between $250 and $2,000.

At the film’s premiere on April 19, film director Ben Dickinson told “We are idiots. We didn’t know how to do this [hunting] stuff.”


  • upnorthangler

    At least they owned up to their mistake and took the punishment. Does Ted Nugent behave as well in the field?

    • bassmaster

      NO!!!!! uncle Teds ego only allows him to fess up after he has been busted!

    • ESMc2

      Uncle Ted Hunts only Legally, Knows every Hunting law is an ethical Hunter who would never shoot two deer, without planning to do so with the appropriate permits You comments are as ignorant as those film makers actions.


      Again some one is drinking the kool-aid see Ted would not have fired knowing that it was out of season and that he did not have a permit he would not have pointed his gun at the animals. That is called a responsibile hunter. Now where is the Federal Government with the arrest warrant the guns were used illegally and possible would end up in Mexico and used in a cartel shooting come on Obama wake up.

  • Dustin Harper

    What a bunch of idiots. They thought that people could just walk out into the woods and shoot a deer without any tags or license? Grrrrr. People wonder why I dislike hipsters… Here's an example. I did get a chuckle with the "a real life yoga instructor" part. Makes more sense now. Should have filmed at Starbucks.

  • Cuzsis

    They owned up to it and worked with the authorities. Can't ask for more after a mistake like that.

    It's true it's a pretty bad mistake to make as an adult, but hopefully they learned their lesson and will be more vigilant about checking local laws in the future.

  • Charlie

    Being an idiot is one thing…they occur in all stripes and colors. But the smarmy comments about "hipsters" and "yoga instructor" are weak- sounds like the grumblings of a good old boy's club threatened with new members. I immediately think of my good friend Heather, a REAL LIFE YOGA INSTRUCTOR (and a GIRL) who has killed many deer with me over the years.

    • adecker44

      Charlie – those are facts…they are indeed hipsters and the lead actor is a yoga instructor.

      Do you know what a hipster is?

      Here's wiki definition:

      New members? Would be a best outcome from all of this…

  • N. Paul

    As much as I would like to be able to hunt whenever I feel like it, I have to ask; where are these guys from? I know people whose only knowledge of hunting was the movie Bambi and they at least would have thought, “I wonder if there is a season for this?”
    That fact that they owned up to being completely brain-dead is the minimum they should have done. I think that a percentage of any proceeds from the film should go to conservation.

  • southern pride

    stupid yankees

    • JoeBotz


  • Geo

    Ted Nugent happens to be very up front about how and why he hunts, he has to be because he gets in anyones face when they disagree with him.

  • Waltd06

    Ted Nugent was recently charged with killing a black bear in Alaska, abd illegally transporting it to the U.S>

    • ed l

      uuhhh. ain't alaska part of the U.S.A.

  • Bob Hagner

    Amazing that the fine is only 250 to 2000 for this brutality of killing without a license,tag and common sense
    …..his rifle should be confiscated as well as the "killer" shuld be jailed and denied hunting privaleges in that state and whatever else he can be charged for…..

    • Eric

      "brutality of killing without a license, tag and common sense" ????????
      That's a good one. At least to me, that statement implies that killing isn't brutal as long as you have a license, tag and common sense. Like the deer you just shot, lies there, feeling unexplained pain, blood coming out of its mouth, gasping for air and thinking "hey, it's ok,….this guy has a license, tag and common sense. I guess I should just die now so this guy can have the life sustaining pleasure of placing my antlers on his wall and braggin' to his buddies about "that one time where I sat out in my deer stand for hours, looking over this field that I've been spreading deer feed on for months, (effectively tricking local deer to coming here and get fat while building up a false sense of security in them), waiting for this little guy to come along. Yeah, I couldn't believe he walked right under mebefore he gave me a clean heart shot. I fired and WHAM!!!!!!! Got him right on the edge of his lung and shocked him into running in a circle untill I was able to get him again. No, that one didn't kill him either, but got him to lay down long enough to walk up to him and fired my sidearm into his head. Well yeah, I know I was aiming for his heart. It's ok though, I had a license, tag and common sense so it's cool."

      I think you might need to use some of that common sense you speak of yourself

  • Been Around

    If I had to guess, these folks were raised and have lived in a large metropolitan area most of their adult lives. what they probably knew about living off the land would nearly fill a thimble. That said, their inexperience is exactly what the film is about and I think it could be interesting viewing.
    I applaud them for "owning up", as did Nugent in the bear case. I think that honesty probably mitigated the punishment meted out, in both cases.
    I can't get too excited about accidental deer kills when you consider how many are run over on our highways. They breed like mice.
    As for Southern Pride's comment: I have lived for years in both the northeast and the south and I think a film depicting how a couple of southern rednecks (sans guns) get along in downtown Philly or Detroit would be just as interesting!

  • shootist

    Hay Guys! We are talking about people with New York think. These are people that exist in a bubble that think the universe revolves around them. It is a wonder they could find a deer, let alone two. Must really be a huge heard it upstate NY. They did fess up, and took their punishment. One Question, why should they receive a stiffer punishment than poachers who deliberatly kill deer illigally and knowingly for profit or antlers?

    • Tim Martin

      They ought to receive the same punishment. Ignorance isn't an excuse for stupidity.

    • gramcracka

      Not all of us n.y'ers are like that,these clowns screwed up and took their punishment.Cant say the same about deliberate poachers.

    • JoeBotz

      Moron look at a map! NYC is full of large mouthed Liberal POS’s! Not the rest of NY! In fact Long Island which has deer hunting etc. has the highest percentage of Marine Corps Volunteers and Veterans per capita in the US. Tell me about NY a hole!

  • Capt grumpy

    Ted Nugent was charged and convicted in California for using bait to hunt deer as well as taking a spike buck which is a big no no here. He lost his hunting privileges here which disqualifies him to hunt in associate states in the poaching alliance and he went to South Dakota and filmed a hunt where he was not supposed to have hunting privileges. So stop spouting Ted Nugent as any sort of upstanding citizen in the hunting community! He sucks hog crap.

    • JoeBotz

      Draft dodging Ted!

  • Daniel

    what is a hipster?

  • Avon Maser

    Back in the 90's, I was attending an open air week long festival. Camp to my left was a young couple from Florida with a station wagon full of coconuts still in the husk. To my right, was a group from Manhattan with all brand new camping gear. I watched as the young man with the coconuts attempted to husk one with a screwdriver and a hand saw. The other group stacked split oak logs and attempted to start a fire by holding a disposable lighter to one of the logs. I reached into my tent and pulled out my tomahawk and machete and offer to help the group from Manhattan. I took a log and split it into kindling, then using my trusty Buck knife, I made a pile of shavings. In no time I had a fire going. Next, I turned my attention to coconut people. Taking a piece of oak that I had split for kindling, I sharpen both ends. Stabbing one end into the earth at an angle, I sat down cross legged, with the double ended spike between my feet. I took an unhusked coconut and slammed it down on the spike. The spike slid through the husk, glanced off the coconut shell and back out the husk. With a quick twist, about a quarter of the husk came off the coconut. Repeating this three or four more times, the coconut was completely husked. How did I learn to husk a coconut? From an old black & white travel film I watched in the third or fourth grade in school. I've hunted and camped all my life as a way of life.

  • John ODonnell

    Some of you have an unfair preconcieved notion about New York. Yes there is a HUGE city in NYS but the rest of the state is quite beautiful and rugged and there are hunters here. Yes thats right hunters. There is some great whitetail, black bear and turkey hunting to be had in the Empire State. Illinois has awesome whitetail hunting but it also has Chicago. Many Pope and Young as well as Boone and Crockett records have been harvested in NY state. One of the great whitetail researchers and Deer and Deer Hunting writers, Charles Alzsciemer is a NYS hunter. We dont all live in a bubble and I know you southern boys dont all marry your first cousins. We understand each other now?

  • NBechtel

    I work for Fish and Game here In California, also run a upland hunting program for new and beginning hunters.
    We see all sorts, some who don't care to know the law, there going to do what they wish regardless, and there are those that are genially IGNORANT on the matter. Hunting and hunting laws are not on the forefront of peoples conscious unless you are active in the sport. There is so much that actually goes into huntnig and being prepared that it takes quiet a commitment. There are legions of ethical hunters that also work with non profit groups to ensure that huntable lands are protected…not just for hunting but for the species survival it's self. It's the ones that behave inappropriately that draw the attention of the general public and the off the cuff comments about what hunting is…typically come from those that have never taking a Hunter Education course or even participated in the sport. That fact that these people were completely ignorant of hunting and it's laws got them into the situation they were in. To their credit..they owned up to their mistake. Our Wardens are chasing a whole population of people that have no regard for either, ethics or the law.

  • Christian

    I think most of this stuff is good comedy! The people didn't know, just like most of the hunters on here don't know that you can take all the Spanish lobsters off of the Florida coast with no limit, but can only take 7 spiny lobsters per day….what? You didn't know that growing up in North Dakota or wherever? Exactly, you don't know what you don't know. Just like the genius above probably doesn't know that in California you can only tow two trailers in tandem without a CDL is the first is a goose-neck. They fessed up and that's what matters. There are way more deer poached by guys with hunting license and killed by cars than what the movie guys ever thought about doing. The deer population will survive this tragedy…I promise.
    Thanks for the good laughs and showing your lack of understanding and closed mindedness.
    Good luck hunting and fishing boys! See you on the lake or the woods!

back to top