Poacher Faces Lifetime Hunting Ban for Assaulting Landowner

by Braxton Taylor

If you’re going to commit wildlife crimes, you might as well go all the way, right? That was, by all accounts, the philosophy of a Tennessee man who was just convicted of aggravated assault and spotlighting over 15 deer from the road.

William Franklin Stamey Jr., 22, of Whitesburg, TN., appeared in Hawkins County Circuit Court last week and pleaded guilty to a bevy of crimes, including aggravated assault, spotlighting deer, hunting from a motor vehicle, and a second and third offense of hunting big game in a closed season.

“Over a three-and-a-half-year period, Stamey was charged with killing or assisting in killing 15 deer illegally, and admitted to poaching 20 deer from the road in 2020 alone,” said Wildlife Officer Justin Pinkston. “Sadly, most of these deer were left lying and were never recovered.”

Stamey in September 2022. Facebook, Willie Stamey, Jr.

Stamey’s troubles began on August 16, 2023, when he and an accomplice were road hunting for deer around 11:30 pm using a spotlight, according to a press release from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Road hunting and spotlight hunting are illegal in the Volunteer State, and the regular rifle deer season doesn’t begin until mid-November.

The dynamic duo managed to kill a doe and a seven-point buck from their vehicle before being confronted by a landowner in Hawkins County. Not appreciating the request to stop stealing deer from Tennessee hunters, Stamey pointed a gun at the landowner, and the pair drove away.

Tennessee law defines “aggravated assault” as, in part, “using or displaying a deadly weapon.”

“Actually touching a person is not required to be charged with aggravated assault,” Tennessee Crime Defense Attorney Don Himmelberg, explained. “If you were cut off in the parking lot and got out of your car waving a handgun around–even if you have no intention of firing the weapon–you can be charged with aggravated assault.”

A Hawkins County Sheriff’s deputy caught up with Stamey and his buddy a short time later (along with a third vehicle occupant), and the deputy found a spotlight and hunting rifles in their vehicle.

The sheriff’s office called the TWRA, and Wildlife Officer Justin Pinkston was sent to deliver a criminal summons to Stamey’s home. During that visit, Pinkston noticed a buck deer carcass in Stamey’s backyard. Pinkston looked up Stamey’s records and noticed that the poacher had checked the deer in as an archery harvest in August, even though he did not possess an archery license.

From there, things went from bad to worse. The TWRA executed a search warrant four days later, and officers discovered eleven more sets of deer antlers that Stamey admitted to poaching. He also admitted to shooting a bearded hen turkey in 2022, which he did not check in as required by state law.

Stamey 2
Stamey in March 2022. Facebook, Willie Stamey, Jr.

Those familiar with serial poachers will be unsurprised to learn that this wasn’t Stamey’s first run-in with wildlife officers. He had been previously convicted in 2021 when he entered a plea agreement for spotlighting, hunting from a public roadway, and hunting deer during the closed season in Greene County in November of 2020.

In total, Stamey pleaded guilty to poaching 15 deer, but the real number is much higher. He admitted to officers that in 2020 alone, he poached at least 20 deer from legal hunters in Tennessee.

Aggravated assault is a felony, and that combined with the poaching charges will send Stamey to jail for six months. He was sentenced to four years for the aggravated assault but was only ordered to serve six months of that term. He was also sentenced to six months in prison for each of the hunting big game in closed season charges, but all jail time will run concurrently.

In addition to fines and court costs, Stamey must pay $12,500 in restitution, and he had his hunting privileges revoked for life. He also forfeited a spotlight, a muzzleloader, a rifle, and a compound bow, along with deer meat, turkey parts, and 14 deer racks.

Feature image via TWRA Facebook Page.

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