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Conservation Law Enforcement Corner June 2019

GON Staff | May 31, 2019

Burke County: In September of 2017, DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) Cpl. Jeff Billips responded to a complaint of a trophy buck killed illegally with a firearm during archery season. The buck was known locally by some hunters after being captured on trail-camera photos. And like most big bucks that are seen on camera, this one got a nickname. It was known to some as “Tom Brady,” after the NFL star.

The following account of the case is from a narrative provided by LED.

After getting a complaint that the buck was killed illegally with a firearm during archery season, Cpl. Billips examined the buck’s carcass at a local deer processing facility. His investigation showed that there was an obvious bullet wound that traveled through the buck’s midsection, shattered the spine, and then left a large exit wound.

DNR Law Enforcement Cpl. Jeff Billips with the caped-out head of a very large Burke County buck that was shot illegally with a firearm during the 2017 archery season.

Cpl. Billips noted the hunter had attempted to conceal the bullet wounds by shooting an arrow through the exit wound.

The buck’s carcass, rack and cape were seized.

Cpl. Billips interviewed the man, James Ned Caldwell, of Sylva, N.C., who denied shooting the buck with a firearm.

Caldwell had not recorded the buck’s harvest, and Cpl. Billips learned that Caldwell had killed a 10-point buck the previous weekend, and it, too, had not been recorded or reported.

In State Court three months later, the judge accepted pleas to one count of hunting deer with a centerfire rifle during archery season, and two counts recording and reporting requirements for game animals.

The sentence for James Ned Caldwell, of Sylva, N.C., was:

1. Hunting deer with center fire rifle during archery season: $1,000 fine.

2. Failure to record or report game animal: $138 fine.

3. Suspension of hunting privileges in the state of Georgia for 12 months.

4. Restitution/replacement cost of deer: $2,000 (Calculated at a 4-year old deer at $500 per year).

5. Pay to have the deer mounted/taxidermy—mount to be retained by the state of Georgia: $350.

6. No jail time or probation.

7. Surrender of both deer (one prior to the deer) to the state of Georgia.

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