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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS: > 2003

TWO PLYMOUTH MEN CHARGED WITH ILLEGAL DEER HUNTING

Environmental Protection Officer Says Pair Were `Jacklighting'

November 19, 2003

By KEN BYRON And, JESSE LEAVENWORTH Courant Staff Writers

Two Plymouth men have been charged with illegally hunting deer by blinding the animals with artificial light and then shooting them.

Calvin Burclaff, 43, and Mark Ouellette, 42, were arrested Saturday night in Litchfield and charged with jacklighting for deer, possession of a loaded weapon in a motor vehicle and negligent hunting. Ouellette was also charged with possession of a firearm while intoxicated.

Jacklighting is the name for a nighttime practice in which a hunter uses an artificial light to illuminate a spot where deer are congregated. The light blinds the deer and makes them an easier target to shot.

Capt. Raul Camejo, a DEP conservation officer, said jacklighting is an annual problem, especially during the fall and winter in remote areas of the state.

Jacklighters don't fit a single profile, Camejo said. Sometimes, he said, licensed hunters get caught illegally hunting at night. Hunting is legal from a half-hour before sunrise until sunset, Monday through Saturday.

Jacklighters take deer for trophies and for meat. It is illegal in the state to sell white-tailed deer venison, but another recent arrest in Litchfield shows it can be profitable. Camejo cited the case of Robert Clark, the owner of the Litchfield Locker Corp., who was arrested Friday on charges of illegally selling white-tailed deer meat. Clark's shop was charging $17 a pound, Camejo said.

"If you can get a couple hundred pounds of meat for the cost of two bullets, your overhead isn't too much - until you get caught," Camejo said.

Also, jacklighters often use high-powered rifles, the same kinds of weapons military snipers use to hit targets a half-mile away, Camejo said. When they shoot those rifles at night in areas they may be unfamiliar with, they are risking residents' lives, Camejo said.

DEP conservation officers seize jacklighters' rifles, which often cost more than $500 each. If the accused is found guilty, the state destroys the rifles, Camejo said. Officers also may seize a jacklighter's vehicle, he said.

Conservation officers for the state Department of Environmental Protection found Burclaff and Ouellette hunting in a field off Wigwam Road in the Northfield section of Litchfield. State police assisted with the arrests. Officers found a powerful, hand-held spotlight in the motor vehicle the two men had along with a loaded rifle, ammunition and two knives.

Burclaff and Ouellette were released on promises to appear in Bantam Superior Court on Dec. 8.


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