Two charged with hunting illegally
Two Gilmer County men have been charged with hunting illegally after a state Department of Natural Resources officer reported he caught them spotlighting deer at night, according to a DNR incident report.
Cody Blake Stone, 21, of 63 Bearden Trail, was charged Nov. 18 with hunting from a public road, hunting from a vehicle, hunting deer at night and hunting after privileges suspended.
Jake Dalton Wheeler, 22, of 360 Orchard Lane in Talking Rock (Gilmer side), was charged with hunting from a public road, hunting from a vehicle and hunting deer at night.
Cpl. Cody Jones with the DNR’s law enforcement division said in the report he had received complaints of night hunting in a field on Kennemur Road near Evans Road in southeastern Gilmer County.
He witnessed a 1993 Toyota pickup truck drive by on Nov. 17 “with a hand-held light shining the field out of the passenger window.”
Jones said he stopped Wheeler, who was driving, and spoke with him and Stone in the passenger seat.
“I asked if they had seen any deer in the field that they shined and Wheeler stated, ‘What field? ... We didn’t shine no field,’” Jones reported.
“I informed them that I saw them and Stone stated, ‘No, we didn’t see any.’”
Jones told the men they were not under arrest, but he was handcuffing them for “officer safety.” He then noticed “a lot of blood in the bed of the truck along with a piece of broken antler.”
“Wheeler said that his brother had killed a deer ... I also found opened cases of beer in the cab,” Jones said. “I did not see any open containers.”
He also found a .280-caliber, bolt-action rifle with a Bushnell scope, a .22 Hornet break-action rifle with scope and an ammo box with six unfired rounds.
Sgt. James Keener arrived to assist, and Jones asked Wheeler how much he had to drink.
“He said one margarita during supper,” Jones said, adding that after Wheeler failed several field sobriety tests he blew a .09 on the Alco-Sensor. The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in Georgia is .08.
Keener recognized Stone as being convicted of night hunting the previous year, and “determined that Stone’s privileges to hunt were still suspended.”
Cpl. Rodney Sawyer of the sheriff’s office arrived to take Wheeler and Stone to the county jail, and Jones arrived to give Wheeler a second intoxication test. Wheeler blew .055 and .061 and was not charged with DUI, Jones noted.
“I asked again about the blood in the truck, and Wheeler admitted to killing a small buck the day before,” Jones said in the report.
“Wheeler said he lied earlier because he had not recorded it on his deer harvest record. A hunter is required to document the kill on their harvest record before moving the animal and then relay the information over the phone or online within 72 hours of the kill. As of (Nov. 24, eight days later), Wheeler has still not documented the kill.”
Wheeler bonded out of jail on Nov. 18, and Stone bonded out on Nov. 19, according to a jail spokeswoman.