Mississippi Conservation Officers continue to hunt people who are killing deer in areas closed to hunting by flooding along the Mississippi River, and they are having success.

Steve Adcock, chief of enforcement at the state’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said Wednesday his officers have issued over 50 flood-related citations in one county alone.

“That’s in Bolivar County, but not all of those are directly related to deer hunting,” Adcock said, adding that the increased presence of officers in the flooding area has led to different citations. “There’s things like boating violations, too. Our guys are out there and they are doing their job.”

Mainly, that job is to protect wildlife who are stressed from the flooding, including deer that face exposing themselves while fleeing rising waters. Many areas of the Delta have been closed to hunting, and probably will not reopen by the Jan. 31 end of the deer season.

Some people haven’t been able to resist temptation, and have wound up in serious trouble.

E.B. Metcalfe, 70, of Benoist, faces multiple charges, including exceeding the daily bag limit and shooting deer during a closed season, after admitting to officers that he’d killed five deer, including three trophy bucks. The officers were acting on a complaint about shots being fired around the levee in Bolivar County.

Donald Hensley, 49, of Hernando faces numerous charges after officers found three dead does, one dead buck and the head of another buck. According to Adcock, officers were patrolling the levee in Tunica County when they witnessed a truck approach the levee, turn around and stop, followed by somebody shining a light.

Adcock said a chase pursued all the way to the Tunica city limits where he was apprehended. Adcock said Hensley admitted he’d shot four of the deer but claimed the fifth, the head of a buck, had been given to him.”  

“He’s been charged with four counts of headlighting deer, four counts of hunting from a public road, five counts of possession of illegal deer and hunting during a closed season,” Adcock told The Clarion-Ledger. “He’s looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of (over $10,000 in fines).”

Adcock said citizens have been active in reporting nefarious activity.

“People will call in on you for breaking game laws; people won’t stand for it,” he said.

The roles reversed on officers in one case near Vicksburg, where a recent letter to the editor of the Vicksburg Post has created a stir about officers euthanizing of a buck along a road in the Port of Vicksburg.

According to the letter, which was attributed to Jimmy Hart of Vicksburg, people saw a buck swimming to reach higher ground. A crowd gathered and apparently caused the buck to return to the water. Hart’s letter described the buck was being exhausted by the time it returned to dry ground. The buck laid down on the bank.

Adcock said conservation officers were summoned and after a discussion decided the best course of action was to shoot the deer.

Adcock was quick to defend the actions of officers and called it “a safety issue.” 

Adcock said if there had been woods nearby where the buck could escape, officers would have acted differently. He said that because the area was surrounded by roads, including the main trucking entrance to the Port of Vicksburg, the decision to put the buck down was prudent.

“That’s just a chance you can not take,” he said.

Anyone suspecting a wildlife violation has been committed is urged to call 1-800-BE-SMART (1-800-237-6278), which is monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All tips are treated as anonymous, according to MDWFP spokesman Jim Walker.

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In a related matter, the Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has been temporarily closed to the public, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The closure began Jan. 11 and will remain in effect until otherwise posted.

That means Panther Swamp is closed to all hunting, including waterfowl, and fishing.