Conservation Law Enforcement Corner May 2021

Pierce County spotlighters caught; Rabun County turkey site baited with corn.

GON Staff | May 2, 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.

Pierce County: On Sept. 14, 2019, Game Warden First Class Judd Sears was conducted night hunting surveillance on Big House Road in Piece County.

“I received a complaint from a local resident that they had been hearing shots around 2200 hours and suspected it to be illegal night hunting,” officer Sears wrote in his DNR incident report. “On this date I was sitting in a field on Big House Road when a vehicle approached the field coming from Meadow Wood Road and stopped in front of my location. The vehicle began to shine two hand-held lights out of the vehicle in a sweeping motion across the field. These lights were shinned out of the driver side and passenger side of the vehicle, shining both sides of the road.

“I pulled out to pursue this vehicle and observed this vehicle continuing to shine both sides of the road as it went down Big House Road. I got close enough and initiated a traffic stop. I observed a deer in the bed of the truck as I approached the vehicle.”

The driver of the vehicle was a 19-year-old male from Blackshear. An 18-year-old male was the front seat passenger, and in the back seat were another 18-year-old from Blackshear and a 20-year-old from Folkston.

“I asked these occupants if they knew why I stopped them, and they stated they understood why. I asked if there were any guns in the vehicle, and a loaded 7mm-08 Ruger American rifle was sitting between the leg of the driver and center console, and a Savage Model 93R17 .17 HMR rifle was in the back seat. The 7mm-08 had one round in the chamber and two rounds in the magazine. The .17 HMR had one round in the chamber and three rounds in the magazine. I secured both rifles in my patrol vehicle and the two hand-held lights—a Streamlight flashlight and a Stanley spotlight.”

The 18-year-old in the back seat admitted to shooting the deer in the bed of the truck with the .17 HMR.

“These subjects were in possession of a bottle of liquor in the vehicle and multiple cans and bottles of beer in a cooler in the bed of the vehicle. None of these subjects were of age to possess the alcohol, so I had them pour it out.

“I issued each subject a citation for hunting from a vehicle, hunting deer at night and hunting big game from a public road. The buck was confiscated and disposed of due to the warm temperatures,” the officer said.

According to records from the Pierce County State Court, each of the four young men paid $500 in fines.

Rabun County: At approximately 10:00 hours on March 19, 2020, Game Warden First Class Ethan Franklin and Cpl. Tim Vickery were patrolling in Rabun County around the area of Persimmon Road when they noticed a ground blind, which was across a field on the other side of a creek. Using the aid of binoculars, the officers saw what appeared to be corn, but from the distance were unsure. Cpl. Vickery dropped GWFC Franklin out to get a closer look at the blind. GWFC Franklin hiked into the property, which bordered U.S. Forest Service land. Once in the area where the blind was located, GWFC Franklin found a significant amount of corn and a trail camera that was monitoring wildlife coming to the bait. After taking several photos and sample of bait for evidence, GWFC Franklin met back up with Cpl. Vickery.

For the next 15 days, GWFC Franklin and other game wardens in the work section monitored the baited area using investigative and other surveillance techniques.

Evidence photos show corn placed near a blind in Rabun County during turkey season.

On Friday, April 3 at approximately 09:30 hours, GWFC Franklin became aware there were subjects hunting in the blind. After arriving close to the baited area, it was apparent the subjects had vacated the blind.

Upon further investigation the officer located two subjects who were walking back toward the area of the bait and blind. GWFC Franklin identified the subjects as Christian Connor and Rusty Connor, both of Rabun County.

GWFC Franklin questioned both men, who admitted to hunting for turkeys in the blind. The two were subsequently charged with hunting turkeys over bait. Both subjects paid a fine of $415.

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