A Knox County man has been charged with shooting a penned domestic turkey at state Rep. Frank Niceley’s Jefferson County farm, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Niceley said a flock of hens and two tom turkeys, kept by his daughter, were penned with a herd of sheep alongside hen the shooting occurred Wednesday.
“He just stopped and killed the biggest tom. He didn’t kill him with the first shot and had to shoot him two more times,” said Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains. “My wife (Cynthia) said it was just a mess.”
Niceley was at the Legislature in Nashville when the shooting occurred and related events as told him by his wife, daughter and a nephew who was visiting the family farm at the time.
The legislator said the man told family members that he thought the birds were wild turkeys. Wild turkey hunting season is currently underway.
In an emailed response to a request, TWRA officials identified the man who was cited as Paul Wayne Phillips of Knox County, with no specific address available Thursday.
He was charged with hunting from a motor vehicle and discharging a firearm from a public highway, both misdemeanors.
Niceley said the family and the surviving tom turkey made the best of the situation.
“They dressed him out (the dead turkey) and got him in the refrigerator. We’ll eat him,” said Niceley.
“It just tickled the young tom,” he added. “It wasn’t but a few minutes and he took off chasing after the hens.”
The incident comes after Niceley and TWRA clashed in the Legislature over the lawmaker’s bill to legalize domestic farming of white-tailed deer in Tennessee. TWRA opposed the bill, contending importation of domestic deer into the state could spread disease to wild deer.
Niceley this week abandoned his efforts to pass the bill, blaming TWRA and the Tennessee Wildlife Federation for spreading “misinformation” and “lies” about legislation he viewed as a safe way to help economic development in the state’s rural areas.
“If I’d been at home, I don’t know that I would have called them,” Niceley said.