Allegations of deer hunting inside Front Royal’s town limits lead to deputies’ resignations

The Warren Sentinel
FRONT ROYAL — Three Warren County deputies have resigned this week over a deer-hunting incident that is being investigated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Sheriff Daniel McEathron confirmed Wednesday that deputies Brad Pugh, Eric Ramey Mike Robinson had resigned, effective Monday, Nov. 5.

McEathron said all three had been with his office for a “number of years.”

Pugh and Robinson were charged in Warren County General District Court Tuesday over the Nov. 3 incident.

According to online court records, Pugh was charged with three misdemeanors, unlawful hunting of a wild animal, hunting without a license and wanton waste. Pugh paid fines of $100, $60 and $25 for the offenses.

Robinson was charged with unlawful hunting of a a wild animal

Both men are due back in court Dec. 4.

No charges were filed against Ramey.

Front Royal Police Chief Norman Shiflett said FRPD Capt. Clint Keller heard shots near his home on that Saturday and called it in to dispatch.

Patrol officers found a pickup truck and the three deputies, on the south side of the John Marshall Highway (Rt. 55) near Westminster Drive, Shiflett said.

Shiflett said he called Sheriff McEathron and informed him of the incident. After some discussion, it was decided to turn the matter over to DGIF.

“We didn't want to show any partiality or favoritism,” Shiflett said. “That's why we contacted the outside agency to handle the investigation.”

McEathron said he and Shiflett wanted to “remove any kind of doubt or concern in anybody's mind that this wasn't being handled right.”

DGIF, McEathron added, is “really the agency that would handle this kind of thing anyway.”

Shiflett said that all law enforcement agency administrators should hold their staff accountable.

“That's one thing I require from all of my officers,” Shiflett said. “They will be held accountable for their actions.”

Under a plan adopted by the Front Royal Town Council this year, hunters must get permission from DGIF in order to hunt within the town limits.

The town also began a deer-management program this year, entering an agreement with the non-profit Suburban White Tail Management of Northern Virginia, Inc., to address the growing population in Front Royal.

In March, the group, which hunts with bows, killed 25 deer in a one-month trial of the program.
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