Bacon County Night-Hunting Case Nets Two Teens

Conservation Law Enforcement Corner - September 2022

GON Staff | August 28, 2022

The Conservation LE Corner is designed to highlight the efforts of Georgia DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) officers who, among their many duties, protect Georgia’s wildlife, sportsmen and natural resources from game-law violators. The following account is provided from DNR LED. 

Two rifles and high-capacity magazines were located in a car after it was stopped for illuminating Bacon County fields with headlights.

Bacon County: On Nov. 27, 2020, game warden Luke Rabun was surveilling an area off Donald Eason Road for nighttime deer-hunting activity. At approximately 11:50 p.m., the officer observed a vehicle approach the field he was sitting in.

“The vehicle was heading from north to south. The driver of the car maneuvered the vehicle in a manner to make the headlights illuminate the field,” officer Rabun wrote in the incident report. 

“After a matter of seconds,  the driver then angled the vehicle back onto the road and began traveling south again. Using my state-issued night-vision goggles and my vehicle infrared light, I followed the car for a short distance to the next field on the road. I observed the driver of the car again maneuver the vehicle in a manner to make the headlights illuminate the field. Again, after a few seconds, the driver angled his car back onto the road and began heading in the same direction. I closed the distance between my patrol vehicle and the vehicle that I was observing and initiated a traffic stop. When the vehicle came to a stop, I observed the barrel of a firearm sticking out of the front passenger window of the car. The occupant in the front passenger seat slowly pulled the firearm back into the vehicle. I could hear the action on the rifle being worked to unload the weapon. 

“At approximately 2355, I communicated the traffic stop with GSP Waycross. I exited my patrol truck and approached the vehicle. I instructed the passenger to place his hands on the dash where I could see them. I then instructed the driver to turn the vehicle off and put his keys on the dash, and place his hands on the steering wheel. I observed the firearms in the passenger seat area and an amount of rifle ammunition in the cup holder in the center console area. The driver informed me that there was another occupant in the back seat. I instructed the driver and the front-seat passenger to exit the vehicle and come to the back of the car. I then performed a frisk on the driver and passenger for weapons. I asked the driver and passenger what they were doing, and they told me that they were ‘just looking.’ 

“I then secured the two rifles from the passenger area (DTI 15 .556 and M+M Inc. 7.62) and a pistol (Taurus 9mm) in my patrol vehicle. When I was retrieving the firearms, I noticed two high-capacity rifle magazines in the floorboard area of the vehicle. I communicated with GSP Waycross and requested a deputy be dispatched to my location.”

The officer identified the driver as a teenager from Nicholls, the front seat passenger as a 22-year-old from Alma, and the back seat passenger as a teen from Blackshear. 

“I issued all three individuals three citations each for Hunting Deer at Night, Hunting Big Game From a Public Road, and Hunting From a Vehicle,” officer Rabun said. 

Almost two years after the charges, two of the cases have not been adjudicated. The front seat passenger had his Hunting From a Road charge dismissed and paid fines totaling $503 for the other two charges. The driver pleaded not guilty and now is on the calendar for a court date scheduled for Aug. 25 in Bacon County State Court. The back seat passenger also pleaded not guilty, has changed attorneys, and the case is still pending.

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