3 men facing 36 charges after Person County poaching ring busted, authorities say

(AP File Photo)

ROXBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Three Person County men are facing a total of three dozen charges after wildlife officials say they busted a major poaching operation that illegally killed a number of trophy deer.

Christopher Ray Tuck, 26, Samuel Allen Roach, 21 and Samuel Roy Roach Jr., 40, were charged Nov. 29, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. All but one of the charges are against the two younger men.

The Wildlife Resource Commission’s Officer Tim Godwin said that remains of 20 bucks were seized during a series of searches.

In most, but not all, cases, the poachers took only the heads, he said. Officers seized deer killed as far back as January 2017, he said. No poached does were discovered, he said. Godwin said the largest rack seized would have scored in the upper 150s on the Boone & Crockett scale, which is used to measure trophy deer.

“They were pretty much riding around all hours of the night” shooting deer, Godwin said.

Investigators believe that in many cases, the deer were shot in the headlights of the poachers’ vehicles, though in other cases green lights designed for hunting predators at night were used, Godwin said.

But deer aren’t all they’re accused of killing. A number of the charges relate to turkeys killed in the spring.

In some cases, turkeys were shot from the roadway, Godwin said. In one case, the turkey’s killing would have been completely legal, if the hunter had just bought a hunting license, the officer said.

Tuck is also charged with illegally possessing osprey talons. He told authorities that he hit the bird with his car, then cut off and kept the legs, which he thought looked cool, Godwin said.

Osprey carcasses and parts are illegal to possess both because they’re protected under federal law and because there’s no legal hunting season for them in North Carolina.

The ring was discovered after someone called wildlife officers in August and said they had heard that Tuck was illegally hunting at night, according to authorities.

Wildlife officers spent a number of nights spread out across Person County, hoping to capture the perpetrators in the act.

Then, in October, the Person County Sheriff’s Office got a call about shots being fired in the northern part of the county, Godwin said. Deputies found Tuck in the area, with a rifle in his car. He said that he had shot at a coyote; coyotes are legal to shoot at night. But he’s a convicted felon, so deputies arrested him for being in possession of a firearm.

The next day, Godwin found a deer lying dead in a nearby field, its head removed.

With the help of Master Officer Mike Edmiston and Sgt. Justin Mathis, Godwin carried out a series of searches that led to key evidence in the case.

According to online records, the suspects face the following charges from the Wildlife Resources Commission:

Samuel Allen Roach:

  • four counts of failure to report/tag big game
  • one count of possessing a deer taken during closed season
  • six counts of spotlighting or night hunting deer

Christopher Ray Tuck:

  • one count of possessing a deer taken during closed season
  • one count of unlawfully possessing a wild turkey
  • four counts of hunting without a license
  • four counts of not having a big game license
  • two counts of exceeding the game limit
  • 11 counts of spotlighting or night hunting deer
  • one count of illegal possession of an animal

Samuel Roy Roach Jr.

  • one count of possessing a deer that was unlawfully taken

The Wildlife Resource Commission offers a Turn-In-Poachers, or TIP, program that offers rewards ranging from $100 to $1,000 to those who provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of people illegally killing wildlife. Tips can be submitted at 1 (855) WILDTIP or by clicking here.

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