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2 charged for night hunting in Osceola WMA

For immediate release: September 27, 2012
Contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525

2 charged for night hunting in Osceola WMA

Two cousins were charged recently for night hunting deer in Osceola Wildlife Management Area (WMA) by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers.
FWC K-9 Officer Bret Gill and Officer Joseph Johnston received information that two men were hunting deer illegally in the area around Sandhill Grade in Baker County and that an 8-point buck had been killed before the season began.

One of the men suspected of this illegal hunting, James Harris (DOB 12/07/93) of Macclenny, had posted a picture of an 8-point buck on the Internet in August. The deer in the photo appeared to be freshly killed. There was also a picture showing Harris holding a small alligator.

The officers, assisted by FWC Officer Todd Hoyle and investigators Jason McMillan and Paul Graham, interviewed Harris and others. Harris explained he caught the alligator in the Osceola WMA and later released it in the forest.

Harris also admitted that he and his cousin, William Harris (DOB 10/19/89) of Statenville, Ga., had killed the 8-point buck at night off County Road 250 in Osceola WMA. James Harris said they saw the deer standing on the side of the road, and William got out of the truck and shot the animal. James then drove the truck to pick up his cousin and the deer.

William corroborated what James had told the FWC officers and gave officers the .22 rifle and flashlight used in killing the buck. He also turned in the antlers, which were taken into evidence.

When confronted with the evidence the FWC investigators had developed, the cousins were cooperative, effectively closing the case.

William Harris was cited for taking deer during closed season, taking wildlife at night with a gun and light, taking wildlife during closed season in a WMA, and taking wildlife from a public roadway.

For participating in the illegal hunt and for helping clean the deer, James Harris was cited with the same charges. In addition, he was charged with possession of an alligator without a permit and was given written warnings for no hunting license, no deer permit, no WMA stamp, and driving without a valid license.