HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A weekend deer hunting trip for three friends turned into something more grisly. The men say they believe two of their hunting dogs were deliberately shot by a man claiming to be a security officer for a Seabee training facility off Highway 67 in Harrison County. The men say the dogs wandered onto fenced off federal property.
When the dogs entered the area, the hunting trio spent several minutes calling out to the dogs. They say they knew where the dogs were because the animals were equipped with GPS tracking collars.
Minutes later someone drove up with a warning about the restricted area. That from hunter H.W. Krohn.
"The gentleman said he was the officer that patrolled this area," Krohn recalled. "Didn't give us his name or anything, he was out of uniform and in a civilian car."
He said another, darker warning came next.
"He said you're not going to get those dogs back and we've got out GPS tracking machine on the collars and he said that device is not going to do you any good," Krohn said.
Hunting partner William Barton said the same thing.
"We asked him that we'd like to get them out of there and he said there's no chance you'll ever see them dogs again," Barton said.
The man left, and several minutes later, the hunters say they heard several shots fired. Then movement on the dogs tracking collars stopped.
WLOX News has confirmed through Seabee base officials the man who drove up and issued the warning is a Gunnersmate 1st class at the base in Gulfport. He has not been identified, but the base officials say the allegations are being taken very seriously. Commander Gordie Meyer is the base Executive Officer.
"We are under an investigation, trying to determine if there is any wrongdoing by any part of the military members stationed here at the Seabee base," Meyer said.
In addition to the emotional shock of possibly hearing their hunting dogs shot to death, there's another consideration as well. A financial consideration. These dogs are highly trained and well equipped, according to Krohn.
"We've trained, fed and kept them. I wouldn't take $1,000 for it. But to be reasonable, $600 or $800, at least that," Krohn said.
As for why the dogs were possibly shot and killed, the hunters could only speculate.
"Foolishness, complete foolishness. He wanted to show his authority I guess," Barton said.
"I have no idea, sir," Krohn added. "I've got all the respect in the world for the military. I've been building warships for 37 years and I'm not against the military. But this young man is out of control."
After hearing the shots, Harrison County sheriffs deputies were called and helped the hunters retrieve the GPS dog collars. They had been tossed back over the fence and were covered with blood. The collars are now in the hands of Navy investigators, but the dogs have not been retrieved. The sheriff's department is also conducting an investigation.
WLOX News will continue to check on this story for further updates.