Conservation Law Enforcement Corner – November 2019

Highlighting the work of DNR Rangers to stop illegal activities.

GON Staff | November 1, 2019

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 resources from game and fish law violators.

Gwinnett County: A simple inspection at a Gwinnett County taxidermy shop by DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED) officers began an investigation that resulted in scores of charges against three men and the confiscation of multiple big mounts and racks killed over several years, including several in velvet that were killed as early as July.

After an extensive investigation, LED officers were able to collect enough evidence for charges in the illegal taking of 15 bucks and one doe, amounting to more than 60 total violations.

It began with Sgt. Lee Brown, Ranger Chris Hall and Cpl. Eddie Tompkins completing a taxidermy inspection at a shop in Dacula in December 2017. There were numerous bucks involved and several names associated with who reportedly killed several bucks of interest to the officers. As is often the case, the officers checked the DNR license database to see when the deer were recorded and by whom on the mandatory Game Check system. No charges were filed at that time, but early the next fall Cpl. Eddie Tompkins was again checking a taxidermy shop, this one in Lawrenceville, when he saw some suspicious racks.

“In early September 2018, I located three velvet deer,” Cpl. Tompkins wrote in an incident report. “The appearance of the whitetail deer racks made me suspicious of when the deer were harvested. The antlers were not fully developed and still in full velvet, which in this area would indicate the deer were taken prior to the season. I checked the records at the taxidermy shop and learned the deer were brought to the taxidermist by Ramey Carter and his brother Chris Carter.

“On Oct. 20, 2018, I utilized an unmarked vehicle to follow Ramey Carter from his residence. I lost Ramey Carter on Suwanee Dam Road.”

Tompkins later located the vehicle parked in a subdivision in Sugar Hill at a house sitting on 0.39 acres.

“I called Cpl. Eric Sanders to assist me. Just as Cpl. Sanders was arriving, Ramey Carter came walking out from beside the house in full camouflage carrying a crossbow and a climbing stand. I asked why he was not wearing the required fluorescent orange vest, and he stated, ‘I forgot it was gun season.’ I asked about his permission to hunt the property, and he pointed at the residence which he was parked in front of and stated, ‘I just sit right there on the back of their fence line.’”

The man had apparently done some work for the homeowner. Cpl. Tomkins asked to see where Carter was hunting.

“We then proceed to walk thru the backyard of the residence thru a gate and into the woods behind the residence… to a tree that had markings where a climbing style deer stand had left obvious sign and where corn was poured on the ground.”

The 20-acre property belonged to a community association.

“I explained since he did not have permission to hunt the property, then he also could not hunt over bait.

Cpl. Tompkins later obtained a search warrant for the contents of the man’s cellphone.

“Text messages, multimedia messages and photographs obtained from Ramey Carter’s cell phone indicated he had killed five bucks during 2018, of which three were killed prior to the Georgia season. The dates when whitetail deer were killed: July 2, 8-point buck in velvet; July 8, 8-point buck in velvet; Aug. 9, 12-point buck in velvet photo; Sept. 25, 8-point buck; and Oct. 18, 8-point buck.

“Based on information obtained from Ramey Carter’s cell phone, I learned of two other individuals involved in the same type of illegal hunting activities,” Cpl. Tompkins said.

The other men were Chris Carter (Ramey Carter’s brother) and Josh Taylor, both of Waycross.

Ramey and Chris Carter were charged with multiple game law violations, including hunting without permission, hunting out of season and taking over the bag limit. Taylor was charged with hunting out season.

Under separate negotiated pleas, each ended up being fined $1,000 and received 12 months non-reporting probation that included attending a hunter safety course.

Trespassing, killing over the limit and shooting velvet bucks as early as July were part of this story of illegal activities in Gwinnett County.

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