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Officers Use Social Media to Track Down Suspected Deer Poachers

West Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Deer Poaching

Maryland Natural Resources Police officers made four deer poaching cases and gained a conviction in recent enforcement action.

Using social media, officers tracked down a convicted Carroll County deer poacher and charged him with eight new violations Friday.

Tyler James Murphy, 21, of Union Bridge, posted pictures on Facebook of an antlerless deer he killed, but did not check in October. A subsequent review of state records indicated that Murphy checked in two antlerless deer Dec. 3, bought a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp that evening and checked in a 10-point buck Dec. 4.

When questioned, Murphy volunteered that he had not killed two antlerless deer Dec. 3 and killed the 10-point buck before buying the bonus stamp.

Murphy was charged with failing to report his kill within 24 hours, failing to complete a Big Game Harvest Record before moving the deer, failing to obtain a Bonus Antlered Deer Stamp before killing a second buck, failing to harvest two antlerless deer before hunting an additional antlered deer, and three counts of knowingly making false statements and information.

In 2015, Murphy was convicted of eight counts of deer and turkey poaching and had an 8-point buck and a 7-point buck seized.

Based on his record, each of Murphy’s 2017 citations require him to appear in Frederick County District Court. If found guilty, he could be jailed for one year and fined as much as $4,000 on each count. In addition, state law mandates restitution of at least $2,000.

Tips from the public and a story posted on Snapchat led officers to charge two men Friday with killing five deer in one night in Frederick County.

Garrett Montgomery Smith, 19, of Frederick, and John Edward Jackson, 19, of Mount Airy were charged with hunting deer during a closed season, hunting at night, hunting deer with spotlights (jacklighting), pursuing wildlife with an off-road vehicle, having a loaded firearm in a vehicle, hunting on private land without written permission, two counts of driving an off-road vehicle on private property and failing to make a reasonable attempt to recover a wounded or dead deer.

According to charging documents, officers responded to complaints of someone hunting deer at night Nov. 17 in eastern Frederick County. Witnesses provided a description of a Dodge Ram pickup truck that had a lightbar attached to the front bumper.

A Snapchat story led officers to the suspects and to a field where the truck got stuck in the mud and had to be towed out.

Smith and Jackson killed a 5-point buck and four antlerless deer with either a 0.22-caliber rifle or a 0.30-06 rifle, using the LED lightbar and headlights on the truck to illuminate the animals. They took meat from two of the five deer and left the other three carcasses – untouched – along the road, the charging documents said.

The two men are scheduled to appear in Frederick County District Court March 28. If found guilty of all charges, each man could be jailed for 90 days, face a maximum fine of $11,500 and have their hunting privileges revoked for up to five years. In addition, state law mandates restitution of at least $2,000.

Trail camera and Facebook photos led to a Carroll County man being charged last Tuesday with deer poaching.

Travis Shawn Hankins, 45, of Sykesville, received citations for hunting on private property without written permission, failing to attach a field tag to the deer before moving it and knowingly recording false information while tagging or reporting a kill.

Hankins checked a 9-point buck Jan. 12 stating that it was killed in Anne Arundel County.

However, officers were able to determine that the deer was killed near power lines in Adelphi in Prince George’s County. They found the deer – recognizable by its distinctive set of antlers – at a Carroll County taxidermy shop. The antlers were seized for evidence.

A date has not been set in Prince George’s County District Court. If found guilty of all charges, Hankins could be fined a maximum of $4,500. In addition, state law mandates restitution of at least $2,000.

A West Virginia man was sentenced last Tuesday in Montgomery County District Court to serve eight days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine after pleading guilty to deer poaching.

Robert Lee Windsor, 49, of Bunker Hill, was the driver of a vehicle stopped at 10 p.m. Nov. 25 by officers on a poaching surveillance operation in Poolesville in Montgomery County.

Windsor and two other West Virginia men were driving slowly, stopping and illuminating a field. Inside the vehicle they had a 0.30-06 rifle with a high-powered scope, 15 rounds of ammunition, spotlights and tools to butcher a deer.

Windsor pleaded guilty to casting rays with an implement (jacklighting). The judge placed charges of hunting deer at night and hunting during a closed season on the inactive docket.

Windsor, who was convicted of jacklighting in 2001, 2004 and 2012, still faces possible suspension of his hunting privileges for up to five years.

The other two defendants, Anthony Wayne Shackelford, 53, and Robert William Ice, 46, both of Falling Waters will be tried March 28 on poaching charges.