Wildlife officers charged two men with illegal deer hunting at night after finding them with guns in Rock Hill, police said.
Michael Joseph Pouliot, 22; and Juan Dakota Diaz-Trent, 21; both of Rock Hill, were arrested by officers with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
The men were also charged with discharging a firearm within city limits.
Police from the city of Rock Hill and DNR were called to the Riverwalk area, near the Catawba River, around 10:30 p.m. Sunday after they received reports of gunfire, said DNR Lance Cpl. Jeff Vissage.
Pouliot told Rock Hill Police Department officers he had shot five times at a deer, while Diz-Trent said he shot once at a deer, according to an incident report.
Officers found that Pouliot and Diaz-Trent had been “driving around Riverwalk” with a .22-caliber rifle and Glock 9mm handgun, Vissage said. Both guns had been fired, Vissage said.
The men were “looking to harvest, or hunt, rabbits,” Vissage said.
Rabbits are not in season to be hunted, Vissage said. Rabbit season starts later this month.
The men then tried to hunt deer, using street lights to illuminate the animals, Vissage said.
It is illegal to hunt deer an hour after sunset, Vissage said. It is “extremely unsafe” to use firearms at night, Vissage said.
Deer are “frozen” by light and can be targeted, Vissage said.
Officers did not find any animal carcasses during the night hours, but were expected to return to the scene to see if any animals were wounded or killed, Vissage said.
A conviction for night hunting can carry a year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine, according to South Carolina state law.
Both Pouliot and Diaz-Trent are being held at the York County jail pending a bond hearing.