Tennessee man jailed for using spotlight to hunt deer, threatening landowner


A Tennessee man was sentenced to jail and barred for life from hunting in the state after he illegally killed 15 deer over more than three years and threatened a landowner with a gun while poaching deer on his property, wildlife officials said.

The man pleaded guilty Feb. 22 in east Tennessee’s Hawkins County to aggravated assault, using a spotlight to kill deer, hunting from a motor vehicle and hunting big game during a closed season, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said.

In August, he and another person were hunting from a road in Rogersville and used a spotlight to kill a doe and a seven-point buck from a vehicle during the closed deer hunting season. When confronted by a landowner, the man pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him, the agency said.


They were later stopped by a sheriff’s deputy and found to have a spotlight and hunting rifles.

Using a spotlight to hunt deer at night is illegal in Tennessee. The practice involves shining an artificial light at deer, which causes them to stay still as they stare at the light, the agency said. That allows the hunter to shoot at the deer before it runs away.

The state also bars people from shooting at, catching or killing any animal from from a public road.

After he pleaded guilty last week, the Whitesburg man was ordered to serve six months of a four-year sentence for the aggravated assault charge, and six months for each of the hunting big game in closed season charges. The sentences will run at the same time, the agency said.

In addition to fines and court costs, he must pay $12,500 in restitution and had his hunting privileges revoked for life, the agency said. He also forfeited a spotlight, a muzzleloader, a rifle, and a compound bow along with deer meat, turkey parts and 14 sets of deer antlers.

He also had a previous poaching conviction in 2021 for spotlighting, hunting from a public roadway, and hunting deer during the closed season in Greene County.

Over 3 1/2 years, the man “was charged with killing or assisting in killing 15 deer illegally, and admitted to poaching 20 deer from the road in 2020 alone,” wildlife officer Justin Pinkston said in a statement. “Sadly, most of these deer were left lying and were never recovered.”

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