By Dessislava Yankova
As Hendersonville mulls how to handle what some feel is an overpopulation of deer in the city, two local men have been charged after shooting at the animals.
On Oct. 26, Hendersonville police responded to Hunters Trail after neighbors reported they heard a gunshot and saw a deer running away from a nearby yard.
Initially Ronald Burgess, 64, told police he heard the shot but was not involved. Throughout the interview, police caught Burgess in “multiple lies” regarding his ownership of firearms, hunting history or whether he has discharged a weapon within city limits, according to the arrest report.
Eventually, Burgess confessed he was sitting in his living room chair when he saw the buck lying in a creek bed outside the window. He then retrieved a single shot .22-caliber rifle, loaded it, opened the window and shot at the buck, which ran away.
Police determined Burgess fired the rifle toward West Main Street, fewer than 1,000 feet from his residence. At the time of the shooting, steady traffic was traveling on Main Street and Burgess “could have caused serious bodily injury or death” to nearby pedestrians or drivers, the arresting officer determined based on investigation and advice from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
He was charged with felony reckless endangerment and booked and released from the Sumner County Jail the same day on a $2,000 bond.
On Oct. 30, Justin Mundy, 30, of Hendersonville turned himself in to state wildlife officers two days after TWRA found a shot deer in a field.
Mundy admitted he shot a buck with 15-point antlers while sitting in his truck in a populated area near Centerpoint Road on Oct. 27.
Mundy is charged with spotlighting deer, shooting from a public road, shooting from a motor vehicle and hunting deer illegally, according to TWRA information officer Doug Markham.
His court costs could add up to $1,000. Markham said the TWRA would ask that Mundy’s hunting license be revoked and that his .308 Model 700 Remington rifle be confiscated and declared contraband.
The two incidents happened during deer archery hunting season. Muzzleloader season does not open until Saturday, and gun season opens on Nov. 22.
Poaching, or illegal hunting, is not uncommon.
“Our wildlife officers have been working poaching cases for many, many years,” Markham said. “People who hunt legally are honest and ethical and poachers cheat.”
Mundy shot the buck with a rifle out of season and in a congested area “too dangerous to be using center fire,” Markham said.
“A 15-point buck is consider a true trophy by sportsmen hunters and an animal many folks enjoy watching, hunters and non-hunters alike,” Markham said.
It’s common, Markham said, for poachers to kill deer, leave them in the field and return later to collect the antlers.
Burgess and Mundy are scheduled to appear in court Nov. 26 and Dec. 12, respectively.
To help handle Hendersonville’s growing deer population, the Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed a group of citizens, wildlife officials and city leaders to the Hendersonville Urban Deer Committee.
The committee has recommended city leaders use lethal techniques to control the problem as part of an integrated deer management program.
More specifically, deer would be baited for a period of two to three weeks after deer season to an open tract of land. Does, or female deer, would be killed with suppressed, high-powered rifles by professional wildlife experts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture over a six- to eight-week period. Their carcasses would be removed quickly and meat distributed to local food banks like the Hendersonville Samaritan Association.
The city hasn’t voted on a course of action.