With the hunting season for white-tailed deer currently underway, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens are using the stories of three Grayson County men charged during the 2016-2017 season to deter hunters from taking the prized animals illegally.


In a Facebook post published Friday, the agency detailed the investigations against Timothy Kane Sweet, 37, of Sherman, John Walker Drinnon, 34, of Whitesboro and Brian Eugene Culp, 47, of Gunter. The three men face multiple charges of differing severity, but all had their trophies seized and were forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines and citations. Calls placed to TPWD were not immediately returned Monday.


Grayson County is one of only a handful of counties across the state in which bowhunting is the only legal means of harvesting a white-tailed deer.


“The cases filed against the individuals responsible for illegally taking the three seized deer, which have a combined gross Boone & Crockett score of over 535 inches, and a combined civil restitution value of $34,954.80, should serve as a warning to would be criminals,” the post said.


According to the post, game wardens began to investigate Drinnon in December 2016 after rumors surfaced among the area hunting community that he had killed a 19-point buck by improper means. Drinnon was interviewed by wardens that month and initially told investigators that he killed the animal on public hunting land in Oklahoma.


But Drinnon’s claim was contradicted by photo evidence from a fixed game camera, which showed the same buck on public hunting land on the Texas side of Lake Texoma.


“Working with their counterparts in Oklahoma and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents to build a case, game wardens eventually obtained a confession from Drinnon that he had killed the buck in Grayson County from a public roadway with a rifle,” the post read.


Drinnon was charged for taking a deer without landowner consent, a state jail felony, and hunting without landowner consent and hunting from a vehicle, both Class A misdemeanors. On Oct. 12, Drinnon pleaded guilty to the felony charge of taking a deer without landowner consent in the 15th District Court in Sherman. Civil restitution for the deer, which was given a 202 B&C score, was listed at more than $18,000.


Sweet was also charged with taking a 19-point buck illicitly. According to the agency’s release, Sweet said he killed the deer in neighboring Fannin County, but photo evidence to the contrary again surfaced and showed the buck and its distinctive rack on a game camera set up in Grayson County. It was unclear when and where the animal was shot.


“During an interview with the game warden, Sweet claimed he made a poor shot on the deer that didn’t draw blood, but returned to the area later that evening to inspect,” the release said. “When the buck jumped up and began to run off, Sweet said he shot it five or six times illegally at night with a pistol.”


On Oct. 20, in Whitesboro’s Justice of the Peace Court, Sweet pleaded no contest to the Class C misdemeanor charges of illegal means and methods, an improperly tagged white-tailed deer and hunting out of season. Civil restitution for the buck, which was given a 177 B&C score, was estimated at more than $10,000.


The third and final case listed in the post detailed charges against Culp, who took a 10-point buck last season. According to the post, Culp tagged the animal “using a Super Combo hunting and fishing license (available at no cost to disabled veterans) that he did not qualify to possess.” It was unclear when and where Culp killed the buck.


On May 19, Culp pleaded no contest to a charge of hunting without a valid licence in Whitesboro’s JP court. Civil restitution on the deer, which boasted a 157 B&C score, was listed at more than $6,000.


“These cases exemplify the hard work and dedication state game wardens deliver day in and day out to enforce Texas game laws,” TPWD Law Enforcement Division Director Col. Grahame Jones said in the post. “I want to extend special recognition and gratitude to Grayson County game wardens Michael Hummert and Daron Blackerby for a job well done.”


The agency also expressed appreciation for assistance it received from the public. Those with information regarding illegal hunting are encouraged to call TPWD game wardens at 800-792-4263.