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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2003

POACHING IN PULASKI

17 November 2003

Saturday night in Pulaski, after the first day of the season had closed, state game officials say a group of hunters followed another tradition.

They rode up and down back country roads near Gatewood Park with a spotlight, officials said, then used the light to stun a deer and shot it illegally. They returned shortly after 10 p.m. to retrieve their illegal kill and led police on a chase that ended in nearby Wythe County, according to Game Warden James Anders.

Marvin Edwards Jr., Shaun C. Martin and Ricardo Massie Jr. have been charged with spotlighting and possession of an illegally killed deer, Class 2 and 3 misdemeanors that could cost them their hunting licenses for a year and a half, fines and possible forfeiture of their vehicle and guns. They face a January court date. Additionally, Marvin Edwards Sr. was charged with eluding police in the case.

Until about 15 years ago, Virginians could legally spotlight until 10 p.m. as long as they didn't have a gun in their vehicle. Some folks took their children out to see the deer. Some hunters used the opportunity to see where deer were gathering. But the privilege was still abused and the practice was outlawed altogether.

But it persists. And game wardens say it's growing worse, despite the abundance of deer.

"I've seen a lot more of it this year, as well as other violations like killing out of season, trespassing and license violations," said Anders, who patrols Wythe and Bland counties.

23-year veteran game warden Clark Greene, area supervisor for Pulaski, Wythe, Carroll and Grayson counties, both confirm that the numbers are up.

And, they say, violators are becoming more clever, using small-caliber rifles or even bows to lessen the tell-tale late night bang of a high-powered rifle.

Responding to a spotlighting report can be one of the most dangerous situations a game warden faces, he said.

"You're in a remote area at night and usually by yourself, confronting usually more than one person with at least one gun," Anders said. "It puts an officer on his toes."


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