On an unseasonably warm November afternoon outside Malone on Sunday, what appeared to be a small six-point buck and a doe stood broadside to a rural dirt road in a privately owned and posted clearing.
All was silent, except for the sounds of chipmunks and squirrels chirping intermittently.
But not for long.
A red Chevy pickup sped past the clearing, then quickly stopped and reversed direction.
The driver looked around, watching the buck's head move from side-to-side - then fired a single .22-caliber hornet round from his truck window, which sat idling on the public road.
Seconds later, two state Environmental Conservation officers drove up to block the roadway, pinning the red Chevy in between them to prevent escape.
DEC officer Mike Phelps, who was operating the robotic decoy deer, sprang from the woods where he was sitting camouflaged in the underbrush, to help in the arrest.
The officers seized the suspect's gun, and place him under arrest.
Phelps stepped back and offered his observations.
"He pulled up and saw the buck and decided it was worth shooting it after he saw it move," Phelps said. "I don't know if he loaded the gun or it was already loaded, but he took a shot from the road at the deer and then he realized he shot something that probably wasn't living."
In New York State, as in most states across the nation, firing a weapon from a public road is a misdemeanor, as is possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Phelps said the officers charged the suspect with two misdemeanors - discharge of a firearm from a public highway and bearing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle; plus two violations - one for taking of wildlife from a motor vehicle and one for taking of wildlife from a public highway.
His weapon will be used as evidence at his upcoming court appearance, officers said.
Like so many others before him, this road hunter has been duped by the DEC's primary weapon against illegal road hunting - the robo deer decoy.
According to Region Five DEC officer Jeff Hovey, most robotic decoys are gifts to DEC from local fish and game clubs while others are purchased with fees raised by a local town court through the prosecution of game jackers.
And each hunting season, these robo-deer compel thousands of average citizens throughout the state to partake in the illegal and reportedly dangerous act of shooting from or across a public highway or within 500 feet of a dwelling.
DEC has employed the robo-deer for over a decade with resounding success, DEC officers said.
According to DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren, in 2008 DEC officers issued roughly 2,700 tickets for poaching statewide. Over 230 of those were in DEC's Region Five.
In a routine arrest, two officers are poised to block any potential escape routes while the decoy operator sits concealed in the woods, using a remote control to move the head and tail of the decoy - adding animation to the otherwise lifeless foam-bodied creature.
Phelps noted that robotic decoys, particularly the ones resembling small- to medium-sized bucks, are highly effective in catching daytime poachers.
Site selection is a major factor in the success of a decoy operation, and officers typically find hot-spots of illicit hunting activity through anonymous tips or complaints from private property owners.
In this specific case, the landowner - who asked to remain anonymous - requested the DEC decoy detail after finding several remnants of deer jacking on his property, including the entrails of at least two deer.
"I won't even let my kids walk back there anymore," the man commented. "People have no idea what is behind what they are shooting at."
Once a site of operation has been chosen, it's often just a matter of time before someone takes the bait.
When the robotic decoy first rose to popularity in the 1990s, detractors claimed that it was nothing short of entrapment.
But DEC officials counter that it is simply bait for those willing to break the law and endanger the lives of rural homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
The average fine for a single misdemeanor discharging a weapon from a public road charge is typically around $200 plus court fees.
Officers said that the average poacher gets several charges following a single incident.
Only a single road hunter was caught in Sunday's sting, but for officers, that often accomplishes their objective.
"Once the decoy is in a certain area, the word gets out," Hovey said. "People certainly think twice before taking a shot once they hear it's around."
Robo-deer are put to work in almost every county in the state - so if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.