Local News

26 deer found dead in Pinetops; 5 charged

Posted January 5, 2016
Updated January 6, 2016

— When a tip led wildlife officers to a home in Pinetops Sunday morning, they could not believe what they found - 26 dead deer.

"The deer were in various states of decay," said Lt. Sam Craft, with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. "Some were just the heads with the antlers, and others were whole deer left to lie in the field."

Sixteen heads, mostly of bucks, were found in the yard. Ten additional deer were found in various fields across the county.

One of the deer, shot and left for dead, was found wandering in a field. Its wounds were so severe, wildlife officers had to put it down.

"You don't know what to say to people who commit crimes like these," Craft said. "In the early stage of the investigation, it does not appear they were trying to feed their families."

Christopher Jason Jernigan, 18, of Elm City, is charged with night hunting and Timothy Austin Stamatis, 19, and Thomas Lee Ayers, 18, are charged with unlawful possession. James Chadwick Bowen Jr., 17, is charged with exceeding the season limit of bucks, night deer hunting and unlawful possession. Dylan Matthew Casper, 16, is charged with night deer hunting.  

If convicted on the misdemeanor charges, each faces a $500 penalty and the cost to replace the deer - which would be about $15,000 total. They would also lose their hunting licenses for two years, according to officials.

Deer hunting season ended Jan. 1, and nighttime deer hunting is illegal.


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  • Justin Case Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

    Mr.Randy Smith, Please note that I am certainly willing to express my views face to face with YOU or anyone else ! And furthermore, I totaled my wife's 2011 Porsche Boxster September of last year when hitting a deer on Old Stage rd. in Garner, Our insurance carrier USAA COVERED everything and our policy went up by a huge $17.23 per month. No idea who you're insured with but just maybe you should consider a different insurance carrier.

  • Rachel Parrish Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

    I can understand hunting if you or your loved ones are hungry but I detest hunting for sport. No one should take pleasure in killing an animal.

  • Thomas White Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

    These young men hunted at night, do you really thin the lack of a hunting license would change their hunting practice? I suspect they will have a parent or relative get a license for them and maybe they are just smart enough not to tell people they shot a deer the next two seasons.

  • Randy Smith Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    It's simply because you can be a "tough-guy" when you're an anonymous person hiding behind a keyboard. Most of these folks wouldn't dare say these things face to face.

    I don't agree with how these kids killed the deer, but I do agree with Nathaniel that the deer population needs thinning out. I drive a ton of miles, at all times of the day, and if I had a dollar for every deer I see standing on the side of the road, or darting across, I could quit my job today! Additionally, I've had a car totaled by hitting a deer, and the insurance company won't pay near what the car is worth, meaning more money out of my own pocket to replace it. I say, let the hunters hunt for at least 6 months out of the year.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 6, 2016
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    Sorry guys, I read the article yesterday, and the 3 younger boys names were not published. My mistake. Still awfully young to have some little respect for life.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

    What really jumps out of this article is the age of these boys. 3 are so young that their names are withheld. That makes me wonder if they are still in school. The fact, also, that one of the deer was wondering around wounded is just sick. Where are the parents in all this? How were they able to carry this out for so long? (Long enough for the deer to decompose and for the boys to collect their 'trophies'). I enjoy a good venison stew, I have hit a deer with my car.I think deer are beautiful. Growing up in N.C. it's not uncommon to straddle the fence when it comes to a question about deer. I hate the thought, in the back of my mind, that these boys are using the deer to practice on, for something worse. That's A LOT of deer. They are becoming desensitized to death, which doesn't bode well for any humans who find themselves on the wrong end of their aggression. I hope they get the help that they obviously need.

  • Ororo Munroe Jan 6, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Lol say what Mike?

  • Steven Brown Jan 6, 2016
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    why? Because his opinions show us that he is no better than those arrested for the crime. He may not have pulled the trigger but he put it out there for the public to respond to and here we are giving our opinion just as he and you did.

    Its views such as his that cause the crimes and views such as yours that let them off with a slap on the wrist as if it were no big deal. I bet when actions of others affect your personal views you have opinions of them similar to ours here.

  • Kevin Lawrence Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

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    Although I will not take sides with everyone against (or for) Nathaniel Hopkins - I will make note how cruel and mean EVERYONE'S comments are directed at Nathaniel Hopkins.
    Why has our society become so vicious and hateful towards others when someone forms an opinion, that another does not agree with? The "pack mentality" has ganged up on Nathaniel Hopkins in all these mean spirited comments.
    I would hate to ever know ANY of you judgmental and rude tempered people in person :-(

  • Grey Mullen Jan 6, 2016
    user avatar

    Nathaniel Hopkins.. You don't know why this is a crime? They broke the law. Plain and simple. They must have killed a higher number of deer than your IQ.