A poaching ring covering Effingham and Screven Counties has been dismantled by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 

Four suspects: Austin Caine, 22, Seth Seckinger, 20, Bailey Kirby, 19, and Hunter Stafford, 21 were cited and are facing a combined total of 78 misdemeanor charges for illegally hunting game like deer and turkey across two counties.

Cpl. Shaymus McNeely in the law enforcement division of DNR said this investigation began in January after residents in those areas complained to them, as well as DNR officials began noticing carcasses on a dirt road in the area. 

McNeely also said investigators learned the suspects were hunting at night and from a car, which is not allowed and dangerous.

“It can be a public safety issue. When a person is shooting from a roadway into a wooded area, or into a field, quite often they don’t have knowledge of what is beyond their intended target. This is how we wound up with accidental shootings,” McNeely said. 

He also said some of the other charges the suspects were facing are hunting out of season and without a license.

McNeely added the suspects would waste the majority of the game they killed, and it appeared the hunting was only to get likes and comments on social media. 

“It seemed that they, never stated by the suspect, that they would dispose of an animal as soon as they had taken pictures and or taken the antlers. So, I would say that probably the antlers or the ability to take photographs was their main motivation,” McNeely said.

However, McNeely said poaching diminishes the state’s future game population and hurts the sport of hunting.

 “We are healthy in Georgia. We have healthy huntable populations of all our game species and we’re very fortunate for that. However, people doing things the wrong way people taking game out of season, taking over the limit, it could absolutely affect this population,” McNeely said. 

If you suspect someone of illegally hunting, call your local law enforcement agency to report it.