JERAULD COUNTY — A string of violations in Jerauld County has put a damper on hunting season.
A popular spot to hunt big game, Jerauld County is an oasis for hunters looking to bag a buck. But with the influx of visitors comes many who violate laws, and it’s gotten out of hand, Jerauld County Sheriff Jason Weber said.
“Jerauld County has always had a lot of big game violations, so it’s not anything new, but I’m getting very sick of people that come into Jerauld County thinking they can do whatever they want,” Weber said. “It’s not all people from out of the county but, man, it sure is a lot.”
For Weber, an avid outdoorsman himself, he said it’s frustrating to know people take advantage of the sport, spoiling the opportunities for others.
Over a two-day span in mid-November, three people were charged with hunting without licenses, and two were charged with hunting out of season in Jerauld County, and all face Class 1 misdemeanors for their alleged crimes.
In one instance, a person is accused of shooting a buck and, after realizing it had been shot before, dragging it into brush and leaving it.
In another, a couple was cited for allegedly shooting two bucks without the proper licensing. They were caught when a conservation officer noticed a deer in the back of a truck with tags on the wrong leg, according to court documents.
A third instance alleges two men who possessed whitetail deer tags knowingly shot mule deer during closed season.
There was no saturation patrol being conducted at the time, Weber said. Rather, community members and fellow hunters alerted law enforcement to possible violations, which Weber said is helpful and encouraged.
“The community here is really good about that — they let us know when something isn’t right,” Weber said. “That definitely helps.”
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Law Enforcement Program Administrator Andy Alban said it’s not uncommon to see a spike in violations during a weekend, or the opening day for a hunting season, both factors that apply to the cases recorded in Jerauld County.
On those days, there are typically more conservation officers on duty, thus catching more violations, Alban said.
Statewide, there have been approximately 100 big game violations during the 2017 fall deer season, he said, and many of those violations were recorded over weekends.
The number is normal, he said, adding that GF&P hasn’t increased its staffing to help catch violators. Instead, as was the case in Jerauld County, GF&P has received several tips from community members, sparking investigations and leading to citations.
“It’s not that we have more personnel out as compared to previous years and, in fact, I think the numbers align pretty well with past years,” Alban said. “But the unwritten rule is you’re going to be ‘all hands on deck’ on weekends and opening days, and, a lot of time, that’s when violations are caught.”