Ask the Game Warden

Losing Your Shirt (or your gun)

During the spring many turkey hunters are hitting the woods. As you can tell by the boat ramps lately, local anglers are taking their turns at wetting a line in search of that heavy stringer of fish. No matter what outdoor activities are taking place, this time of year is a reminder to wildlife officers statewide of the violations they have encountered in the past year. It is this time of year when TWRA holds its annual contraband equipment sales at the courthouse in the county in which they were declared contraband by the local presiding judges.

Although these sales are popular with the public, it is a grim reminder to wildlife violators of the consequences of breaking wildlife laws. All of the items offered at these sales were used in violation of hunting, fishing, or trapping laws and can be a really good place to get a great deal on all manner of sporting equipment. Items offered for sale vary by county and these contraband items are offered for purchase through an auction type format. The individual sales are posted by region on TWRA’s website at

The ability of TWRA officers to seize any equipment used in wildlife, trapping, or fishing violations is a deterrent to most sportsmen. I believe only a small portion of individuals intend to violate the law, however some still do intentionally violate. If you think that breaking a hunting law is fun or won’t really hurt anyone, please remember that most of these laws have safety or wildlife management in mind. These violations, if convicted, can carry heavy fines, loss of hunting/fishing privileges, jail time, a criminal record, and loss of hunting/fishing equipment. This should be all the deterrent you need to know and follow wildlife laws as well as reporting known violations to TWRA officers.

Here are a few of the questions I get while afield about losing your hunting equipment and our contraband equipment sales. Hunt and boat safe in Tennessee!

Q. Tell me about your local gun sale here in Hamilton County?

Matt Majors, Hamilton County Wildlife Officer - Well, to be honest, it is much more than a gun sale! We have quite a bit of things for sale…and it varies from year to year. This year our sale will be held at the Hamilton County courthouse on April 21st, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. A complete listing of items for sale can be found on our website. We will have a few guns, bows, scopes, fishing rods, and tree stands for sale.

Q. If I have had something declared contraband by a judge, can I buy it back?

Matt Majors, Hamilton County Wildlife Officer - Absolutely, you will have to be the highest bidder though. No priority will be given to the previous owner. The person willing to pay the most for the item will take it home!

Q. How often do you have these sales?

Matt Majors, Hamilton County Wildlife Officer - Usually once a year…in the spring but the dates are not “set in stone.”

Q. What do you start the bidding at on these items?

Matt Majors, Hamilton County Wildlife Officer - Bidding starts at half the fair market value. Guns and bows are appraised by a gun or bow dealer for value and the bidding will start at half that price. If nobody bids, it will be held until the next year’s sale.

*Remember - Hamilton County courthouse on April 21st, 2007 at 10:00 a.m.
**For more information visit our website at

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