‘Remember this lesson’ commissioner cautions young man asking for license reinstatement
Published 11:01 pm Saturday, July 15, 2023
His leg shook as the young man recalled an error of judgement which cost him a year of hunting and nearly $3,000. Nearly each Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commission meeting, someone is requesting a license reinstatement after illegally spotlighting or shooting a deer from a roadway.
Fredrick Garraway III of Bolton was the latest hunter to take to the podium before the commission and ask for reinstatement Thursday. Commissioners met in Natchez instead of Jackson Thursday which meant Garraway had to drive about 96 miles to ask for his license back.
Garraway’s voice quivered as he told the story of how he and a friend drove around a neighborhood in Madison until they saw a buck and shot it at night. The young man loaded the buck into his truck bed.
Shortly after, a car followed the vehicle likely reporting the shot and eventually a game warden with the MDWFP made a traffic stop. Garraway said the warden noticed blood on the tailgate and placed him in custody. His shotgun, rifle and handgun were confiscated but he eventually got them back after the case went through the legal process.
Col. Jerry Carter, chief of law enforcement, said a private citizen had called in the report of head lighting leading to the case. Garraway was emotional as he expressed sincere remorse, a rare occurrence. He was polite and seemed to have truly learned his lesson.
“My regret is someone could have been out there behind the deer or there could have been livestock. People do this on our property in Bolton and we call them in. My biggest regret is how stupid I was being out there and doing that,” Garraway said. “It was a terrible judgment call. I can’t help but think what if there had been someone’s kid out there or livestock and I had accidentally killed them.”
One of the biggest reasons spotlighting or shooting from the roadway is illegal is due to the safety aspects of the offense. Shooters are unable to determine what is behind the target, one of the rules of firearm safety, nor can they 100 percent identify the animal at night.
Fair Chase is another issue with spotlighting and shooting from the road. Violators often commit the act on properties they do not have permission to hunt which is trespassing. Deer are blinded by the spotlight and hunters have the unfair advantage shooting at night.
Commission Chairman Bill Cossar has said time and time again the biggest concern is safety.
“It is a safety issue and we have so many deer in this state you don’t have to kill them at night. It is not the right thing to do,” Cossar said. “I’ve been told almost every case they do on head lighting some landowner calls in saying ‘We heard shots. ‘That is how violators get caught. The landowner calls it in. We have so many deer there is no excuse to shoot a deer at night. Remember this lesson.”
MDWFP has a tip hotline for people to report wildlife and fishery violations of any kind. Call 1-800-237-6278 or file a report on the MDWFP website.