Fake deer helps Sarasota deputies catch illegal hunters in the a - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Fake deer helps Sarasota deputies catch illegal hunters in the act

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The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has some special members on its team that catch illegal hunters in the act, and they're not human deputies; they're robots.

If some unlucky hunters stumble upon “Robbie the deer”, then they're about to have a bad day.

Robbie is a robot deer used by deputies to catch hunters who illegally shoot on private property. The stuffed deer can be controlled remotely- deputies can turn its head and flick its tail.

"I can have the deer facing away from him, and then when they make a noise, I can have that head turn towards that noise,” said Deputy Jeff Gross.

Deputies say during the fall, some hunters trespass onto private property, and shoot deer from their trucks. Officials place the robot deer about 80 yards from a road, then hide nearby and watch.

"What helps us is distance from the roadway. That's what helps it look more real than it may be,” said Gross. "We get guys that shoot at it multiple times. Unlike a real deer, it doesn't run off, and then they'll make comments about it being a dumb deer, they can't believe it's still standing there, ‘I can’t believe I missed the shot’."

Once they shoot, it's considered a third-degree felony. Deputies will follow them and arrest them.

Deputies have three robot deer and they are completely customizable. Deputies can add moss to the antlers to appear more natural. Or they could even remove these antlers, turning the buck into a doe.

As you can imagine, when these hunters shoot the robot deer, they cause some damage. Typically when the suspects are convicted, the judge will order them to pay for repairs.

Late last fall, deputies placed the robot on Carlton Ranch Road, and later witnessed someone shoot an arrow into it.

Alex Graham, 44, was arrested for numerous charges including trespassing and trying to take deer during closed season. Deputies also found some methamphetamine in the car. Officials also arrested Tina King, 39, as an accessory.

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