HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. -- A Saucier, Miss., hunter suspects his father's deer dog is dead.
H.W. Krohn doesn't have proof, just a bloody collar he's turned over to Naval Construction Battalion Center investigators and a sad story to tell.
A Seabee spokesman said the incident is under investigation. So far, Krohn's dog has not been found.
Krohn has hunted the woods around Mississippi 15 for most of his 57 years, and more than once he's had a few deer dogs end up on Camp Keller, where the military's Woolmarket Rifle & Pistol Range is located.
Usually the dogs come back out the same way they went in -- through a barbed-wire fence in the back of the ammunitions range off Mississippi 67, he said.
On Dec. 29, Krohn's father's 2-year-old Walker named Lil Gray and another dog ran a yearling deer onto the federal property.
The dogs had trailed the deer for eight to 10 miles, crossing several roads before they slipped through the fence at the back of the rifle range.
That area is off limits to civilians and "keep out" signs are posted around the chain-link and barbed-wire fenced property, NCBC Public Affairs Officer Rob Mims said.
Krohn believes a Navy security officer shot and killed the two dogs that day while he and the other dog's owner were calling for them from outside the fence.
"We sympathize with the gentlemen who lost their dogs," Cmdr. Gordie Meyer, NCBC executive officer, said in a written statement. "The leadership at the Naval Construction Battalion Center takes these situations very seriously and are diligently investigating this matter."
Meyer said the NCBC Security Criminal Investigations Division conducted a grid search of the property Wednesday with the assistance of the Gulfport Naval Criminal Investigative Office, but the dogs were not found.
Lil Gray's collar was fitted with a quick-tracker, which allows Krohn to follow her via beeps on a hand-held receiver, but the other dog was wearing a GPS tracking device. Krohn and the other hunter, William Barton, tracked the dogs with the GPS and found them at the corner of Lamey Bridge Road and Mississippi 67 inside the chain-link fence at the front of the federal property.
Krohn said the men stood in a ditch on public land and yelled for the dogs.
"We were trying to holler them out so they would come out of the barbed-wire fence," he said.
A man in plain clothes driving an unmarked vehicle stopped and identified himself as a Navy security officer, Krohn said.
He told them it was a military facility and keep-out signs were posted.
"Yes, sir, I know that," Krohn said he told him, "but I don't believe a dog can read. We're just trying to get our dogs back."
Krohn said the officer told them they would not be getting their dogs back and that the GPS device would not help them.
Krohn said the man left and went into the military's rifle range. About 10 minutes later, they heard the dogs.
"We heard them barking in there and then we heard, 'pow pow pow pow pow pow.' I know they were shooting in the pistol range, but this was away from the pistol range," he said.
The barking stopped, and, according to Barton's GPS monitor, so did the dogs. But about five minutes later, the blip on the screen started moving again.
They tracked the GPS signal to the north side of the military base, where they suspect the officer threw the collars he'd removed from the dogs, Krohn said.
Krohn said Barton confronted the man, who he said told the hunters again they weren't going to get the dogs back.
Krohn called the Harrison County Sheriff's Office and a deputy found the collars where the GPS unit tracked them. The bloody collars had been cut and the antennas broken, Krohn said.
A sheriff's office spokesman said the investigation has been turned over to the NCBC because the incident occurred on military property.
Krohn said he and Barton gave statements at the Seabee base the next day and turned the collars over to investigators.
Mims said the NCBC has a protocol to handle this type of situation.
"Normally, if a dog enters the property with a tracking device on, personnel on site will take the animal to the front gate and secure the animal so the owners can track and retrieve it," he said. "If a non-collared dog is found, specifically during live fire, it is taken into a warehouse until the live fire is complete and then released when the live fire is complete."
Krohn wants to know what happened to the dogs.
"My daddy wouldn't have taken nothing for that dog," he said of Lil Gray. "You can't put a price on a dog like that."