Conservation Law Enforcement Corner March 2021

Night-hunting detail leads to long chase through woods roads and local highways.

GON Staff | March 1, 2021

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.

Lowndes County: On Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, Game Warden Johnny Robinette and Cpl. Jon Penuel worked a night-hunting detail along Monk Road in Lowndes County in an area with numerous complaints. The following account is condensed from Cpl. Penuel’s incident report.

“At approximately 21:13 hours a vehicle approached. As the vehicle began to pass our location, I observed a light being shined from the driver’s side of the vehicle into the peanut field, in a searching manner. I began to follow behind the suspect vehicle as it continued down Monk Road and continued to shine the same peanut field. Once the suspect vehicle passed the field, they continued south, eventually turning into a driveway on Monk Road. As the vehicle was traveling through the yard, I activated my blue lights and initiated a traffic stop on the green Ford Expedition. After continuing a short distance through the yard, the vehicle stopped between the house and a small storage building. Once the vehicle stopped, I made contact with the driver, who was later identified as James Farmer, of Naylor. I asked Farmer what he was doing, and he replied that they were just riding around. I asked Farmer if he owned the residence where we were located, and he advised that he did. I also asked if he lived at the residence and he advised that he did.

“As I spoke with Farmer about the incident, I observed two open beer bottles in the cup holders and there was also a black shotgun laying between his right leg and the center console. As I continued to speak with Farmer, I asked if he had ever been in trouble before, and he advised that he had. I also asked if he was a convicted felon, and he advised that he was. During our conversation, I again asked Farmer what he had been doing and why he was shining the light into the field. Farmer advised that they always saw deer in the field. I then asked Farmer where the light was, and he replied, “What light?”

“At that time, the female passenger produced a plastic L-shaped flashlight, handed it to Farmer, and he handed it to me. After continuing to speak with Farmer about the incident, I asked him to get out of the vehicle. At this time, he mumbled something and then drove away continuing on through the yard. We immediately ran back to our patrol vehicle and began to pursue Farmer through the property. I also advised GSP Valdosta that we were in a pursuit and needed assistance.

“As we began to drive through the yard, Farmer stopped his vehicle, and the female exited and stood in the yard. Farmer then began to flee again driving down woods roads and narrow paths in an attempt to get away. After pursuing Farmer through the woods, he drove back into the yard, circled the whole yard and then drove back into the woods and down more woods roads and narrow paths. Farmer then drove back into the yard at the residence again and out onto Monk Road. He was driving very erratically and at dangerous speeds given the condition of the roadway. Once we reached Old State Road, Farmer turned left and began to drive without any headlights.”

The pursuit continued on various roads until they reached Highway 84, where DNR was joined in the pursuit by the Georgia State Patrol and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, which took the lead in the pursuit that continued to Highway 31 and eventually circled back to  Monk Road.

“As Farmer neared the residence of the initial stop, he turned into a driveway and began driving down a woods road and through a hunting camp. As we continued to pursue Farmer into the property, he once again began driving down woods roads and narrow pathways at very dangerous speeds. After pursuing Farmer for a significant distance through the woods, he circled around and began to drive back down the woods road toward me. As we closed the distance, and blocked his direction of travel, Farmer stopped his vehicle but refused to exit.

“Farmer ultimately had to be removed from his vehicle and was placed in handcuffs and read his Miranda rights. After Farmer was taken into custody, a search of the vehicle revealed that the black shotgun was no longer in the vehicle. When Farmer was asked about the shotgun he advised that he had no knowledge of the gun.

“Farmer was taken into custody by the Georgia State Patrol for Driving under the Influence as well as multiple other traffic violations. Farmer was also charged by DNR for Hunting Deer at Night, Hunting Big Game from a Public Road, and Farmer was also charged for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Tampering with Evidence.

“The following day Sgt. Morty Wood searched the area along Monk Road and located the black shotgun lying in a ditch. The firearm was a Black Maverick Arms 12 gauge shotgun, found loaded with two rounds of buckshot.”

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