Conservation Law Enforcement Corner July 2021

Fannin County poaching case results in 38 deer and turkey violations to five people.

GON Staff | July 1, 2021

Fannin County: DNR Law Enforcement received a complaint on April 24, 2020 during turkey season about a possible hunting without permission issue in Fannin County. But before Cody Cpl. Jones arrived on scene, a Sheriff’s Deputy contacted the landowner and verified that the suspected hunter did have permission to hunt on that property. At that time, the deputy left the scene and went back on patrol. Cpl. Jones was familiar with the suspect as someone he previously charged for hunting over bait and hunting without permission. Cpl. Jones continued responding to the complaint area to contact the suspected hunter. When Cpl. Jones arrived on scene, the suspect did not have a gun and claimed only to be scouting for turkeys. Cpl. Jones confirmed the suspect did have permission to be on the property and went back on patrol.

The next day Cpl. Jones went back to walk the property and located some turkey bait sites, containing scattered bird seed, and hunting blinds made of brush. He checked these baited sites several times on foot and continued surveillance on the areas throughout the season. Cpl. Jones began looking at the suspect’s social media profiles which contained photos and filmed turkey hunts with two other suspects. The information on social media revealed the hunter had taken over the limit of turkeys. He then checked the hunter’s license information through the DNR website and located numerous hunting license and tagging violations for deer and turkeys over the past couple of years.

On May 4, 2020 Cpl. Jones again walked into the bait sites and apprehended the original suspect and two other hunters from the Atlanta area who the man was guiding hunting turkeys over the bait. Cpl. Jones issued each of the three hunters citations for hunting turkeys over bait and one of the hunters received an additional warning for not having a big game license, which he later purchased. Cpl. Jones did not disclose anything he learned earlier from the social media sites at this time because he had already applied for warrants from the social media sites and wanted to review that information first.

Once Cpl. Jones received confirmation the information on the social media sites had been saved, he and Game Warden Bryan Price interviewed one of the suspects in the videos on May 19. The suspect voluntarily showed them cell phone pictures of the illegally taken turkey. Cpl. Jones seized the phone and obtained search warrants for his cell phone and a social media site to extract the hunting-related evidence. Cpl. Jones spent hours sorting through all the information from the cell phone and social media site to document violations the suspect had committed the past couple of hunting seasons. The violations included taking over the limit of turkeys, hunting turkeys over bait, hunting without a license, hunting without a big game license, and harvest recording violations for turkeys and deer. Cpl. Jones also found this suspect illegally killed three bucks, one doe and seven turkeys during these two hunting seasons. Cpl. Jones determined the three bucks, one doe and seven turkeys were illegally killed on five different properties in Fannin County.

Cpl. Jones, Game Warden Bryan Price and Sgt. Steve Seitz interviewed the original suspect again on June 29 to discuss the violations, and the suspect confessed to all the violations. Cpl. Jones issued this suspect five citations for the major violations and 26 warnings for killing the seven turkeys and four deer illegally over the past two seasons. The suspect allowed the Game Wardens to search his residence and seize all the illegally taken wildlife. Another suspect in this case, who lives in Tennessee, was additionally charged with a turkey harvest recording violation and was issued a warning for hunting over bait, since he was being guided in the area and was not aware the bait was in the area until later in the hunt.

Evidence seized during an investigation into Fannin County poaching activity.

In total, Cpl. Cody Jones conducted a three-month-long investigation resulting in multiple interviews on five suspects, obtained two search warrants for a phone and social media sites, seized two 8-point buck racks, turkey parts and a cell phone. Cpl. Jones identified 38 deer and turkey violations in this investigation for which he issued nine citations and 29 warnings to five different hunters. The numerous violations consisted of killing over the limit of turkeys, hunting turkeys over bait, hunting turkeys and deer without a license, hunting turkeys and deer without a big game license and failure to record turkey and deer harvests.

All five suspects pleaded guilty to all charges in Fannin County Probate Court and paid fines totaling $1,957.

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  1. bigred41 on July 2, 2021 at 9:15 am

    $1957 won’t cover the labor cost of the warden. These guys are game thieves who stole an unreplaceable resource. Soft judge should be ashamed!

    • maco_outdoors on July 2, 2021 at 9:28 am

      Sure wish fines were higher, some judges hammer pretty good, some just don’t care about poachers I guess. I believe that in GA the DNR doesn’t get the fine money, goes to the county?

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