Macon-Bibb Seeks Firearms Ordinance That Would Limit Deer Hunting
The commissioners of the combined Bibb County and city of Macon government are looking to pass a new firearms ordinance that would impact deer hunting with rifles for some sportsmen in the county.
A public hearing regarding the proposed ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. in the Macon-Bibb commission chambers at 700 Poplar Street.
Three of the nine Macon-Bibb Commissioners—Joe Allen, Elaine Lucas and Virgil Watkins—have sponsored an ordinance that would ban firing rifles within 250 feet (83.3 yards) of any residence countywide in Bibb County. That distance could be changed—some homeowners and a commissioner have said 1,000 feet (333.3 yards) would be appropriate.
Most Bibb County hunters don’t want to see any new ordinance that restricts firing a rifle. They say that there isn’t now and hasn’t ever been a safety issue with deer hunting in Bibb County, and that while safety keeps being brought up, it’s really a matter of a few people not wanting deer hunters in an area.
Also, the language of the current Macon-Bibb proposed ordinance has no exemption for a person’s own residence or with permission of a homeowner. A person who owns any size tract of land—even 1,000 acres for example—wouldn’t legally be able to sight-in a rifle from the back porch or hunt from a stand in the defined distances above behind his or her own house. Most firearms-discharge ordinances have an exemption for a person’s own residence or when someone has permission.
The entire situation seems to be an escalation of legal deer hunters being harassed by some homeowners, harassment that was documented by photos and video. That conflict was between hunters on a leased tract of undeveloped land in the Pinnacle Pointe subdivision on Lake Tobesofkee and some nearby residents. Jason Mathis and his brother, who is a deputy with the Bibb County Sheriff’s Department, leased hunting rights to the undeveloped tracts.
“This is our first year leasing the land,” Jason said. “The developer was having problems with trespassers parking down in the undeveloped parts—drinking, drugs, you name it. He thought it would help to have it leased to hunters, especially someone in law enforcement, so he posted something up at the sheriff’s office and my brother saw it,” Jason said.
“We don’t hunt in the semi-developed part—there’s a big part of the neighborhood with roads and power, but no houses yet—we don’t hunt that part. We hunt the untouched part.
“When we signed the lease, it was close to deer season about to start, and I didn’t have time to scout, so I put a stand up on a gasline. Everything on the property has to cross the gasline. Even a DNR guy who came out said, ‘That’s exactly where I would put the stand, too.’”
The shooting-house stand on the gasline is visible from a subdivision road, but it’s well outside the minimum legal distance distance from the road.
“About a week into gun season, I got down and was walking down the edge of the woods road and I saw a light,” Jason said. “He was shining his light through the gate. He started hollering, “I got you. You’re illegally hunting!”
The man at the gate was James Majewski, who lives in a lakefront Pinnacle Pointe house and is president of a homeowner’s association.
“I said, ‘No sir, I have this property leased.’ He kept on and kept on about how I was illegal, how I was in the city limits, which we were not. He finally said, ‘I’m going to contact the city council.’”
That wasn’t the end of the encounters between Majewski and the deer hunters.
“It happened over and over,” Jason said, “at least 10 times if not 20. If someone saw my truck, I’d be dad-gummed he would show up. He would pull up on his golf cart and honk the horn the whole time, hollering, “Get out of here deer!” or whatever, he would yell stuff.
“My first avenue wasn’t the game warden. I started with the sheriff’s department. After them coming out so many times and not doing anything, I finally figured out I need to call the game warden.
“Right around Thanksgiving was the biggest final straw that got me to call DNR. I had a friend’s wife, a young lady, who came out, and I put her in the box stand. While she was hunting, two guys parked at the gate and start coming up the gasline. She texted me, freaking out. Then one of the guys started climbing up the stand, coming up the ladder. She’s literally laying down on the floor of the stand at this point, crying. I was on the other side of the property, and by the time I pulled up at the gate, I could see the guy coming back down the ladder. They get back to the gate, and they said they worked for the gas company, that they were there to mark the deer stand on the gasline. As soon as they got on the golf cart, they started laughing. That’s when I realized it was some of Majewski’s family. It was his son and grandson.”
No charges for hunter harassment or trespassing were ever made in any of the numerous incidents.
Jason made the following post on the GON Forum on Dec. 2: “I live in Bibb County and I am having trouble with a wealthy neighbor trespassing, stalking and attempting to climb a box stand while a female friend was hunting in it and scared her so bad she probably won’t ever hunt by herself again. I have called the sheriff’s department several times and was told because it’s election year nothing would be done because the man has the ear of the local city government. Does anyone know how I can resolve my issue? I have pics and video of the stalker in action.”
Jason Mathis said he made dozens of calls to the Bibb County Sherif’s Department, and then he began going up the chain of command until he was leaving messages with Sheriff David Davis.
“After leaving several messages, the sheriff called me back, and he flat out told me, ‘I’m not concerned with James Majewski, my only concern is that you are hunting.’ I repeated it twice just to make sure I was hearing him right. I said, ‘Your personal feelings are you don’t want me on the property, even though this man is breaking the law and I’m legal?’‘
That’s when Jason called DNR Law Enforcement, which he realizes now is where he should have started at the beginning.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said, “It is a sort of a vexing situation. At first, I told everybody to just stand down. I told the hunters to stand down. I said, ‘Let’s get this thing figured out.’ They are more than 150 feet from road, that is state law. They are clearly 100 yards or more from the nearest road. But you can see the deer stand from the road, and the neighbors were concerned about a high-powered round.
“The first proposal was to extend the Macon city limits prohibition on any firearms discharge, extending that to the entire county,” Sheriff Davis said. “I said that’s not appropriate, there are too many areas where people can hunt that are pretty wide open. So, then they looked at what some other areas had done with a distance required, so that’s kind of where the template came from—now it’s at 250 feet. Whether it remains that or not, I don’t know. The final word will be from the commission.”
Jason said, “No person should be stalked, harassed, trespassed upon.”
And he’s right. Simple hunter harassment is a clear violation of state law, Ga. Code: 27-3-151. Since no charges were ever filed, Jason finally went to court, and Judge Verda Colvin issued a temporary protective order to keep James Majewski from harassing him.
Ironically, even if the proposed firearms ordinance is passed, it would not do a thing to restrict Jason from hunting his leased property near Pinnacle Pointe. His deer stands are well outside of the 250-foot distance restriction that is proposed in the ordinance.
“It is not going to change a thing for us, it’s only going to hurt people who aren’t even involved,” Jason said.
That might explain why some Pinnacle Pointe residents are calling for the ordinance to ban shooting a rifle 1,000 feet from any residence (333 yards in any direction), which would essentially ban deer hunting with rifles in all of Bibb County (or most of Georgia, if that restriction was ever considered statewide).
Macon-Bibb Commissioner Joe Allen seems to think a 1,000-yard (not feet) distance is a good idea. Commissioner Allen posted a message Jan. 8 on Facebook that was full of inaccuracies and extreme false narratives, including a statement that “children have been injured and animals running scared from their owners” because of deer hunters.
Here is Macon-Bibb Commissioner Joe Allen’s Facebook post, in its entirety and unedited:
“Highlights from Macon-Board of Commissioners last night . Close to 70 citizens showed up to address the board last night after people are firing rifles in harms way of residents homes. In many cases hitting homes. We ALL took this as a most important issue. This since children have been injured and animals running scared from their owners. We will take action very soon. The Board will address this issue as well as other issues including the high amount of businesses and alcohol sales near schools and Churches. The County has authority on both issues . But both issues again will be addressed next Tuesday morning 9 am corner of First and Poplar street in the Government Center (old City Hall). All invited and should attend , as one Court in Bibb County, feels that on the rifle issue, there is enough laws on the books. That’s wrong as a person tried to stop persons from using a deer stand very close to a road and homes at Lake Toby and was give a ticket for harassment to the deer hunters.Another home has been hit many times in the School road area in South Bibb. But other areas including East Bibb was addressed as well as off of 247 . Children could not even play in their yards, this is in many areas of the old County.The doctor that was given a ticket went to court, yes I was there with him.And I hope this Doctor will be able to have his case totally dismissed. This is on hold awaiting the County of Bibb address of the issue.Yes They deer hunters should be given places they can rent, but in safe zones.And yes at least 1000 yards from any resident. This past Saturday while in Tennessee a daddy and his 8 year old daughter were killed by a hunter, who advised he thought it was a deer he Killed.
I am a member of the NRA and being safe should be our Motto. Pease Share. And keep not just the citizens,and homes .
But the hunters who shoot before they actually understand there shot might kill more than a deer.
If they are irresponsible in shooting and kill a person or person’s,this could destroy the shooters life also..
That could be manslaughter,No matter what type job you have, even law enforcement officers who hunt this close to homes and accidentally kill a person or persons while hunting .
Many years in jail for wanting to kill Bambi. God Bless us. Again Please SHARE.”
Macon- Lizella- BibbCounty Ga. Commissioner Dist 6.
Again, the public hearing to discuss the Macon-Bibb proposed firearms ordinance is Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. at the commission chambers, 700 Poplar Street.
For Georgia hunters who experience harassment, here’s the law.
Georgia Hunter Harassment Law: Ga. Code: 27-3-151: (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to: (1) Interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife by another person by intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent such person from such lawful taking of wildlife; (2) Disturb or engage in activity tending to disturb wildlife for the purpose of intentionally preventing or attempting to prevent the lawful taking of such wildlife; or (3) Fail to obey an order of a law enforcement officer to desist from conduct violating paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection if the law enforcement officer observes such conduct or if the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the person has engaged in such conduct that day or that the person plans or intends to engage in such conduct that day at a specific location. (b) Nothing in subsection (a) of this Code section shall be construed to apply to the activities of law enforcement officers or employees of the department in the performance of their duties.
In addition to criminal charges, anyone involved in hunter harassment is subject to a civil lawsuit. According to Georgia law, Chapter 3, Article 6 – Interference With Lawful Taking; 27-3-152 – Injunctions; damages for violations: (a) The superior court of a county may enjoin conduct which would be in violation of Code Section 27-3-151 upon the petition of a person who is affected or who reasonably may be affected by such conduct upon a showing that such conduct is threatened or that such conduct has occurred at a particular location in the past and that it is not unreasonable to expect that under similar circumstances such conduct will be repeated. (b) A person who engages in conduct in violation of Code Section 27-3-151 shall be civilly liable to any other person who is adversely affected by such conduct, and any award for damages may include punitive damages. In addition to any other items of special damage, the measure of damages may include expenditures of the affected person for license and permit fees, travel, guides, and special equipment and supplies to the extent that such expenditures were rendered futile by preventing the lawful taking of wildlife.
Jason said, “I can’t afford an attorney. I’m just pretty lost. I feel like… I don’t know. I feel like a victim, no matter what happens in this meeting. I shouldn’t have to give my piece of property up. Why can’t I just get help when someone is breaking the law?”
For Macon-Bibb County Residents
Since the consolidation, Macon-Bibb is governed by a mayor who is elected countywide and a nine-member county commission, with members elected from districts. Macon-Bibb residents can find and contact your Macon-Bibb Commissioner here.
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