Stemming from an incident that took place over Thanksgiving, a Tennessee man has been nailed with a hefty fine for violating the state’s newly-instituted legislation surrounding illegally killing big game animals.
After spotting a large, eleven point whitetail in a hayfield across the road from his home, 63-year-old Clarence Robertson retrieved his rifle and shot the animal while standing in his driveway. The New Market resident then drove his truck into the field, which he did not have permission to hunt or trespass on, to retrieve the animal.
Earlier this week, Robertson was in court and subsequently pleaded guilty to shooting the deer across a public road and on a property he did not have permission to hunt. His plea immediately made him subject to recently passed legislation in the state of Tennessee that increased financial penalties for those in violation of wildlife laws.
The legislation in TC 70-4-116 gives judges the power to impose enhanced restitution fees for either illegally killed or illegally possessed trophy-size deer. The financial burden to the accused is directly correlated to the size of the animal’s antlers, specifically, the number of points it adorns atop its head.
The amended legislation dictates that for whitetail deer sporting between eight and ten antler points the fine is set to $1,000 per animal plus an added $500 for each point. For deer with eleven points or more, the base fine remains constant at $1,000 per animal, but the per point fine climbs to $750 per point.
Following the legislation, the judge in Tuesday’s case imposed a $50 fine plus $269 in court costs and paired those costs with an assessed restitution of $9,250 for the trophy animal. Robertson’s hunting privileges are revoked until all fines and restitution costs have been paid, but the rifle he used to kill the animal was returned to the defendant.
After the animal was seized by Officer Wayne Rich, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife biologist Sterling Daniels measured the antlers giving it a gross score of 143 6/8 inches, leaving little doubt that this was a trophy whitetail.
“It is probably the biggest buck I’ve ever seen in Jefferson County,” Officer Rich said.
The Jefferson County High School FFA Hunters for the Hungry Club paid for the deer to be processed and donated the meat to charity. The hide and antlers were returned to the property owner where the deer was killed.