Local paddler shot at from illegal tent village/compound

A local kayaker I know was shot at while paddling offshore on the Georgia coast. Turns out the shooters were people who set up an illegal compound on an uninhabited island.


I’m not a gun person, so I don’t get the attraction of bringing or shooting a gun while camping. To me it sounds like a good way to accidentally hurt somebody, which it almost did. Having said that, I’m not looking to take away anyone’s guns or gun rights. Still, folks should follow the rules, and in this case hunting and shooting aren’t allowed in the preserve, so don’t do it.

To be honest, I think the gun part of the story is kind of a red herring. To me abusing the camping privileges is more of an issue. If camping is allowed on a leave not trace basis, then leave no trace. Who wants to show up at a campsite to find it full of someone else’s gear. There were a couple of very nice sites in RI that are no longer open to camping due to this type of abuse – I’m thinking specifically of Dutch Island off Jamestown on Narragansett Bay and a section of the Wood River in the Arcadia Management Area. People abused the privilege and the state eventually shut them down to camping. If you want to build a permanent camp and leave your stuff there, then buy a piece of land somewhere.

Around here, recreational campers setting up permanent camps isn’t that big an issue, but homeless camps sure are. In my hometown on my local river there are a couple of pretty large homeless camps. One of the largest, along a section of river that I paddle frequently, was recently cleared. Thirteen city workers spent an entire day removing eight dump trucks loads of debris from the area. It was a mess before and looks so much better now.


Campsite along the river in January 2022

Same site after

The same site after the cleanup in January 2023

Other than the fact that they are both illegal encampments, the situation at Little Tybee is very different from the situation on my local river. I have no issue with the camps in Little Tybee being cleared. I have mixed feelings about the homeless camps on my local river - I’d rather not look at the junk, but everyone needs to live somewhere.


Some folks just feel intitled. Like the Marine Patrol officer in the story. I have seen a tent and trash left on Capers Island, SC a state heritage preserve. You are supposed to have a free permit in hand when camping on the island and there is a limit of 80 people allowed to camp at the two designated beach areas. We picked up some of the trash but in a sea kayak loaded with camping gear it wasn’t much mostly hooks and fishing line that posed a hazard to wildlife. The people that built the structures should be fined.


I don’t think having bullets wiz by you is ever a red herring. What I find outrageous, and as a gun owner, is this:

“After speaking with the complainant it was brought up that it could have been target practice and they could have just not been conducting firearms safety effectively,” Officer Heath Wynn wrote. “There could also be hunters on the island.”

So, if they had killed or injured someone it’s ok? We didn’t mean to officer. We weren’t aiming at him with intent to hit him, we “just” weren’t practicing gun safety, no biggie. Ok, your story checks out. You’re free to go and keep your guns.

But yes, there is a bigger issue. Freedom- I want to do whatever I want to, with no consideration for anyone else. Someone once said with freedom comes the responsibility to know when not to use it, or something like that. And also comes to mind, the tragedy of the commons- the selfish and greedy ruin it for the rest of the public who have as much right to use it.


Re: “no consideration for anyone else”
Where did today’s “me first” culture of selfishness come from? Maybe I’ve just been blind to it, but it seems to me that the “my rights and freedoms trump your rights and freedoms” attitude is louder and more in-your-face than in years past.
Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” (Wall Street, 1987) lives on, I guess.

That Chatham police guy should be fired, and betcha the rest of the boyz knew what he was doing all along. Read that first quote where he brags about sneaking the kids over there to do all the things “mom” did not want them doing. Like maybe because some of it was illegal, hmm?

What a sleazebag, making excuses for his continued, longterm abuse of public access, refusing to give his full name in multiple contacts made, and then complaining to The Nature Conservancy about cleanup methods. And trying to pass as a protector of the island. Hypocrite.

Reeks of good ol’ boyz doing that tired old “Nothing’s going on here, winkwinknudgenudge” routine.

It happens all the time on interior public and private (but owned by OTHER private people) lands, too. I’m fed up with hearing “My father, grandfather, and great grandfather used to burn tires/shoot bottles and cans/ride ATVs and dirt bikes off trail/dump carcasses and trash/cut trees/etcetc here, so you can’t stop us now.”

Looking the other way when “one of their own” persisted at doing something illicit only opened the door for worse violations to occur.


You’re right about that.

You mention Dutch Island as having issues. I certainly did when camping was allowed. One time, a bunch of us were paddling along the cliff on the east side of the island, and a huge rock landed in the water just off my bow, and a young guy on the top yelled “I f%$ing missed”. Should have called the cops, but I just kept going, a lot further from the island.

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Happened to me a couple of time - both in my home town.

Once I was paddling under a bridge and a couple of kids started through rocks down at me. I paddled back under the bridge, and climbed up to confront them, but they took off.

Second time was a homeless guy camping along the river who got mad at me when I wouldn’t give him money (I don’t have money when I paddle). He started throwing rocks at me and I paddled off. Fortunately, he was sh*t-faced so he wasn’t a very good shot.

Many year’s ago my local club RICKA used to do a Bastille Day camping trip at Dutch Island - sounded like fun.


I camped there with them a few times years ago. We did July 4th one time & watched fireworks from the Island. Got a nasty case of Lyme the last time I did.

That happened to me riding home from work on my bike. I passed a group of teens and then a rock whizzed right by helmet. I totally lossed it! I jumped of my bike and ran at the group of teens, screaming, “Who threwed that effing rock?!? WHO THREW IT!?!” One teen started mouthing off to me. I shoved him and snarled, “Did you throw the rock? Do you want to die!?!” Anyway, the group started to back off and my adrenaline to began tamp back down. When I was convinced the group was not going to jump me when I turn around, I got on the bike and rode away.

Not my smartest moment. But, went totally into the red zone when that rock whizzed by me and I heard the teens laughing.)



I know that reaction. Did that in the middle of nowhere Mexico at a train stop when we were riding second class trains in the 80s. Was off the train since we were there for a while and got hit by something thrown from a group that was standing around. Felt that berserker energy and headed for them w/ my knife drawn and yelling “Which one, just show me which one”, they fled like a flock of birds.
That reaction, or skill as some would say, was learned from a childhood in FL where I didn’t have the right hair length and wore an earring, listened to the wrong music, and dressed differently. During those years I’d been hit by food from a passing truck while on my bike, missed by a bottle, my girlfriend was hit by a raw egg while we were walking down the side of the road, in addition to constant harassment and threats.

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Maybe it is good that they closed it off. Dutch Island is a wildlife sanctuary now - not even supposed to go on it. Here’s where the tick which gave you Lyme disease came from.

Deer on Dutch Island

I’ve only heard the sound of bullets landing in the water near me once. My buddy and I were paddling on South Lake in the Pinckney Recreation Area and had the lake to ourselves except for one guy in a small boat along the shore. We’re just paddling along the shoreline well over 100 yards from this guy when we hear BOOM BOOM WHOOOOSH WHOOOOSH and the water lights up behind us as two shotgun patterns hit maybe 15 yards away in the spot we were in 10 seconds earlier. That was quite an adrenaline rush and it’s a good thing I’m not a gun person since I definitely wanted to go after the moron. I probably should have called the police but like the guy in the story I think they can’t do anything without solid evidence.

My buddy is gone now but the last time I saw him he asked if I remembered the time we were shot at. Yes, I do.

That brought up a memory - riding my bike near my house about 30 years ago, a kid on the sidewalk threw a lit M-80 into the street, he didn’t look first and didn’t see me. It bounced off my sunglasses (!!!) and I got pretty far from it before it blew. I rode right up onto to the sidewalk and chased down the 13 or 14 year old while his friends evaporated. I got off the bike to start my tirade but he started crying and wet himself, which pretty much defused the situation. I never saw him in the neighborhood again, but I’m guessing he hid whenever I was around.

A lot of nonsense like this happened in the 70s to those who rode bikes (or just walked along) with long hair.

In the early 70s I was running a road near Killeen Tx when a p/u came off the pavement and ran me into the weeds. It had 2 kids in it. I was anything but a long haired freaky fellow.

Cyclists have plenty of such stories. One of mine happened in nice, sleepy little Lincoln, MA, not a town known for such behavior.

While I was riding there, a loud car sped by and some young guy roared out the open window, “CHINK!!!” I gave them the long-finger salute (OK, not a great response, but I was maybe 20 years old or so).

Moments later, I heard a car approaching very slowly as quietly as possible—but not quietly enough—and turned around just as the driver floored it and someone hit me on the butt with a towel. I did get their license plate number and I did report the incident to the police.

Turned out the officer said “this kid and his sister are well known to the police department, and we found out who all the kids are. Told their parents to bring them in to the station and they were all scared.”

snicker. Young guys in packs are like dog packs. Cowards when alone. Spineless without a front guy.

Never had any trouble from them again.