Killing of huge buck brings hefty fines in Jefferson Co.

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NEW MARKET, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A New Market man who illegally shot and killed a deer in Jefferson County on Thanksgiving morning was ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in fines, court costs, and restitution according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.

Agents announced that recent legislation increases penalties for those convicted of illegally killing big game.

TWRA spokesperson, Matt Cameron, says the lower fines that used to exist wouldn't necessarily deter hunters from taking an illegal shot.

"You're maybe looking at a $500 penalty there for killing a nice quality trophy sized deer and a lot of hunters are willing to take that chance in order to get those things," he said.

Now, fines can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. Hunting privileges can also be suspended for those convicted and officers can seize hunting equipment.

"The firearm usually comes into play. If you're hunting from a tree stand, the tree stand can be taken. GPS units and anything that he used to help perpetuate that crime can be seized by an officer and declared contraband by a judge," he said.

That property can then be sold off in an auction.

Clarence Robertson plead guilty on Tuesday to shooting the 11 point buck across a public road on property he didn't have permission to be on. Investigators said he then drove his truck into the field to retrieve the animal.

Jefferson Co. Wildlife Officer Wayne Rich seized the deer and TWRA Wildlife Biologist Sterling Daniels measured the antlers giving it a gross score of 143 6/8 inches.

Officer Rich said, “It is probably the biggest buck I’ve ever seen in Jefferson County.”

Although the total score of the antlers didn’t come in to play, the number of antler points did.

Recently amended legislation in TCA 70-4-116 allows for a judge to impose enhanced restitution fees for illegally killed or possessed trophy deer, and the more antler points on the rack, the higher the cost.

For white-tailed deer with at least eight, but not more than 10 antler points, the fine is $1,000 per animal plus $500 for each antler point. For a white-tailed deer with 11 or more antler points, the fine is $1,000 per animal plus $750 for each antler point.

Robertson’s hunting privileges are also suspended until the fines and restitution have been paid.

The Jefferson County High School FFA Hunters for the Hungry Club paid to have the deer processed and then donated the meat to charity.

The hide and antlers were returned to the property owner where the deer was killed.