Conservation Law Enforcement Corner March 2020
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.
Thomas County: On Dec. 1, 2019, DNR Law Enforcement Division Game Warden David Jones received an “in progress” complaint from a local tract of private property in Thomas County. The following account was provided by DNR Law Enforcement.
The owners of the property and several employees were deer hunting when they heard a shot nearby. The shot was close enough the members of the hunting party thought it was one of them.
The hunters began texting one another to see who got lucky. When no one admitted to having shot, they realized someone was trespassing, and the plantation manager went to investigate.
While traveling along a public dirt road that bordered the property, the manager came upon a black pickup truck sitting in the roadway. As he approached the vehicle, he observed a subject attempting to load a 6-point buck into the back to the truck.
The manager confronted the subject, who stated he had hit the deer with the truck. Not buying the story, the questioning continued, and the subject eventually admitted he had shot the deer as it crossed the road. The manager advised the unidentified subject to stay there while he called the game warden.
Upon hearing that statement, the suspect abruptly snatched the deer out of the bed of the truck into the dirt road and said he would not be sticking around.
The property manager snapped a few quick photographs and was able to capture the subject’s Florida license plate as he quickly departed, leaving the deer in the middle of the road.
Game Warden David Jones arrived on scene a short time later to investigate. One important observation made by the manager was that the young man was wearing a collegiate baseball jacket from a local college team. The property manager just happened to have played baseball for the same team a few years prior.
Game Warden Jones did a quick search of social media and verified the subject’s photo with the information returning on the vehicle’s registration.
Armed with this information, a telephone call to the athletic director of the college quickly verified the subject’s identification and the promise that the young man would be waiting on officer Jones’ arrival for a discussion.
Game Warden Jones arrived at the suspect’s residence and was told by the young man that he had been riding dirt roads and stopped to let his dog out to relieve itself. While this was going on, the deer ran out in the road in front of his truck.
The suspect grabbed his 30-06 rifle out of the truck and shot the deer, and the buck ran approximately 100 yards into the property. After locating the deer and dragging it back to his truck, he was caught by the manager while he was attempting to load the deer.
He finished his statement saying that everything happened so fast—he had shot the deer and loaded it up before he realized what he had done.
The suspect, Clayton Faircloth, was charged for hunting without permission, hunting from a public road, and hunting from a motor vehicle. He pleaded guilty in the Thomas County Probate Court and was fined $800 for his violations.
If you witness or know of illegal hunting activity, please call the Georgia DNR Poacher’s Hotline at 800.366.2661.
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