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DNR reminds of dangers with illegal night hunting

COVINGTON - The Georgia Department of Natural Resources would like for folks to remember that even though it's deer season, it's against the law to hunt at night.

"Our main concern with night hunting is they don't know what's behind that deer, it being dark, them maybe not knowing the area," said Sgt. Matt Garthright of the DNR office out of Thomson, which covers Newton County. And that was apparently the case Saturday night at Gaither Plantation on Davis Ford Road when two men, a father and a son, were arrested after shots were allegedly fired at a deer near the home of caretaker Marty Roberts Jr.

Timothy Shawn McPherson, 47, of 110 Crowell Road, Conyers, was arrested and charged with hunting deer at night and hunting from a motor vehicle. Matthew Lee McPherson, 22, of the same address, was also arrested and charged with hunting deer at night and hunting from a public road.

"Two weekends ago somebody shot a doe in my front yard, right in front of the Gaither Plantation sign. This past Saturday, two people were arrested who had shot from the roadway back into the plantation," Roberts said, adding that this activity gave him concern for visitors to the property, as well as his own family who lives there.

"I have two children - a 21/2-year-old and a 9-month-old - and I told them they were lucky the game warden got them before I did," Roberts said.

He said thankfully, the DNR patrols the area heavily because it is county property and there is no trespassing and no hunting allowed there. It is clearly posted, but according to Roberts, hunters seem to disregard the signs, including the one that states, "This area is under video surveillance."

Roberts called 911 Saturday about 7:30 p.m. when he heard the shots fired. He was able to get a tag number and description of the vehicle and a Newton County Sheriff's Office deputy was able to locate and stop the vehicle shortly thereafter.

"Ranger Ricky Boles arrived at the stop and the suspects were interviewed and taken back to the place where they shot," Garthright said, adding that it was his information the men had discharged a 12-gauge shotgun.

"It's against the law to hunt at night, from the road or from a vehicle," Garthright warned. He said DNR rangers were patrolling in force during deer season and that those found breaking the law could face heavy fines and have their hunting privileges revoked.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.