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SC: Illegal night deer hunting doubles

Illegal night deer hunting doubles by Joel Allen

11.26.2010

Deer hunting is popular in Horry County this time of year, but Department of Natural Resources officers say recently, some deer hunters have taken it a step too far. The DNR has made a rash of arrests for one type of hunting that can be dangerous.

Deer hunting is intended to be a daytime-only activity. But in just the past month, eight people in Horry County have been charged with deer hunting at night, double the number from last year.

State law takes the offense very seriously.

Sgt. Joe Ard tells NewsChannel 15, "The penalties will carry fines up to $2,500. You'll certainly lose your vehicle. You'll lose your weapons. You'll go to jail."

Sgt. Ard says these hunters will ride the roads at night in secluded areas, shining a spotlight into farm fields in search of deer.

"They see a buck. They'll put the rifle outside the window and shoot it from the highway," he says. It's illegal to hunt any later than one hour past sunset in South Carolina. Ard says it's clear why night hunting is against the law. It's dangerous. "We've had houses get shot before. We've had vehicles get shot. Luckily, I can't recall any person getting shot," Ard told us.

He says illegal night hunting has always been a problem and he's not convinced it's any worse now than it ever was. The difference is, now more people are reporting it.

"I think we've got a good relationship with the citizens of Horry County and now when they see a spotlight or hear a gunshot go off, they call us."

Even with greater cooperation and a toll-free hotline that's in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ard says it still takes long hours and dedication to catch the night hunters. It's why he's asking the public to be aware.

"If you hear a shot or see a spotlight, call us," he adds.

For information about the DNR's operation visit the game thief hotline on DNR's website.

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