An encounter late last month with the head of the Carrabelle office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement led to trouble for an errant hunter in Tate’s Hell.
Capt. Craig Duval was off duty hunting in the Crooked River tract of Tate’s Hell Wildlife Management Area. While he was heading out of the management area at last light, he heard a shot towards Highway 67 approximately 100 yards away from his location.
As he was traveling towards Highway 67, he came upon a white Toyota Camry stopped in the middle of the roadway with the driver’s door open, blocking the road. No one was in the vehicle. Another vehicle approached and pulled alongside of the parked Camry. An individual exited the woods and spoke briefly to the driver of the second vehicle and then both subjects and vehicles left the area.
Duval noticed neither of the subjects spoke to him and said it was obvious they did not want to. He made contact with dispatchers, who directed Officers Woody Cook and Matt Gore to his location. While waiting for the officers to arrive, the driver of the Camry came back to Duval’s location and stopped.
Duval asked him, “What did you shoot?” The subject said nothing and said he shot at a buck and missed. The driver left the area for a second time.
Approximately 10 minutes later, the subject came back, stopped his vehicle, got out and asked him if he was the game warden. Duval replied, “Yes, why?” He asked what he was doing, and Duval said he was waiting on two officers to arrive so he could go out and look around due to shots being fired and no one wanting to stick around afterwards. The subject said he did not kill anything but would stay to see if anything was found.
After Gore and Cook arrived, Duval explained the scenario and they went into the woods. After a brief search, a freshly killed doe was located approximately 60 yards away from the road in direct line with where the Camry was originally parked. During a subsequent discussion with the subject, he accepted responsibility for the deer.
The doe and a 30.06 rifle were seized as evidence. The bullet was retrieved from the doe for examination and forensic matching to the subject’s rifle. The subject was cited and