Conservation Law Enforcement Corner – April 2024

GON Staff | April 2, 2024

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 by DNR LED.

Montgomery County: On Oct. 14, 2023, Game Warden Dylan Bennett was patrolling near Ailey in an area where DNR had received complaints about ongoing night-hunting activity.

That evening Bennett was sitting in the back of a field off McGregor-Alston Road. The back of the field was planted in greens, and there was cotton on one side of the field and plowed-under corn on the other side.

“A few vehicles passed through between 1930 and 2100 hours, traveling down the road at normal speeds without stopping,” Bennett wrote in the incident report.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. another truck approached, and this one was not traveling down the road normally.

“It traveled much slower than the previous vehicles and stopped in the road just beyond the entrance to the field. Before the vehicle began to drive off, I observed a light from the driver-side window that appeared to shine into the cotton field. Due to the location, speed of travel, stopping in the roadway, light observed, and turning around, I had reasonable suspicion that the occupants were hunting from the vehicle and the public roadway.”

Bennett made a traffic stop on the vehicle, a Ford F-150. The driver was a 58-year-old Vidalia man, and the passenger was a female with a Middleburg, Fla. address.

“When I approached the vehicle, I noticed a suppressed rifle barrel laying on the dash between the driver and center console,” Bennett reported.

Bennett told the driver he saw a light come out of his window, and he said, “No you did not. All I have is a thermal.”

“He said he was using a held-held thermal monocular to look out into the fields. He said he saw me sitting in the back of the field and all the deer that were in the field,” Bennett reported.

The driver’s rifle was a Winchester Model 70 .300 WSM with a Night Optics Marauder 750 night vision scope that was turned on, and it had a SilencerCo suppressor. The scope was also equipped with an infra-red light which illuminates the targets for the scope but is not readily visible to the naked eye. The driver said it was a $15,000 setup. A small light was found.

“I asked, ‘How many hogs have you killed out here?’ He said, ‘Probably 60 or 65 in this field and 30 in the other field.’”

The driver told the warden he had permission to hunt, but the name of the farm he mentioned was not the landowner of the field. The following day, the landowners signed a prosecution form requesting the driver be charged with hunting without permission.

DNR subsequently obtained a search warrant to retrieve and view data recorded on the thermal optic. Videos indicated the device had been used on numerous occasions to hunt from a vehicle and roadway, with one video showing a hog being killed.

The Vidalia man was also charged with hunting from a vehicle and hunting with a silencer.

He was caught in the same area in 2020, and at the time said DNR wouldn’t catch him anymore because he would buy a thermal setup. He had also been caught by several wardens dating back to 2013.


Jared Wood Earns NWTF Award

Game Warden First Class Jared Wood received the Georgia National Wild Turkey Federation Wildlife Officer of the Year Award. The award was presented by State NWTF President Bob Fountain.


Waterfowl Opening Weekend Stats From Georgia Game Wardens

Total Citations -144

Total Warnings -134


• Hunting waterfowl over bait – 28

• Taking/possession over the waterfowl limit – 11

• Hunting without federal waterfowl stamp – 11

• Hunting waterfowl after hours – 4

• Hunting without Georgia migratory bird stamp – 3


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