The following statements are my opinion on the subject!
What a topic to write about, one could write a novel and it would a non-fiction totally.
This is a pair of trophy Columbia Blacktails that were killed out of season in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
First off I personally feel there are 3 types of poachers, one that will harvest year round to eat, those that will poach for the horns-rack-antlers-teeth-claws-gall bladders anytime and anyplace, and lastly those that poach for the fun (drunk & other mind-sets), only to have a check mark on a list! The latter is a fact of knowledge, as I know via ranchers and law enforcement that it went on for years in the area of Madras, Oregon (just one local to mention). Some years ago I read and saw the pictures of some 20+ elk lying dead in what looked like a killing field. They were shot for sport and left to rot. The the elk were not salvageable for human consumption.
I would say our first knowledge of poaching would be placed in our minds with the Legend, Myth, or Fictionist Character of Robin Hood who would poach game off of the land of King of England.
Since there were little game laws in the past for hunting or harvesting game for the meat, the hides and whatever else could be used for trade or survive, we will move on to the latter years of the 20th Century and on to the 21st Century.
First off I have no problem for a person or persons to harvest game for survival or subsistence of life!
There is a saying that a famous hunter by the name of Bell Lang who once told to me, “Those that poach by the cover of night shall be caught, and those that poach in broad daylight are less apt to be, though in the end greed will take over and they shall be caught!”
In my early days of hunting or thinking about hunting when I got out of the service, I heard about a great deal of hunts and how the hunts started or ended.
A story that was passed along some 50 years ago from Uncle Dave of a new comer hunting during Elk season shot a monster Mule deer out of season. In the days of past the story only became a story after many years past. In this case it was an accident, yet it still comes under the ORS statues of game violations’.
Poaching for camp meat has been going on for years and was acceptable with hunters in a deer camp or elk camp. “Who’s going to kill us a fat doe for camp meat?” I am sure at least in the 20th Century we all have heard those words from the elders of the hunt, which includes me hearing those exact words. “As long as we eat it all up in camp it is legal!” Personally I was never much into eating fresh deer meat.
Then there is the great group hunting with lots of tags in the camp, with those that didn’t care if they shot anything or not. Hunting was an escapement from the grind of 60 hours plus weeks that many of us know from the past. One or two persons might be the shooters to fill the tags. I once loan a couple of my horses to a man that I once hunted with, later he told me thanks as he drugged out 9 elk with my horses in a single day. He was the shooter of them all and he fed the wild game meat to his care home residents. He has long since left this plant to his happy hunting grounds. Many years ago I told a rancher that invited me to hunt on his ranch that held a great deal of the Rocky Mountain Elk in the sage, Juniper and rim rock country in the Oregon, I had waited a number years to get this bull tag and I will shoot my own bull! I never did hunt in his group of 9 to 12 hunters with him. It was about the meat to him and not the racks, though they did harvest dandy 300+ bulls. It was a free for all when they got into a herd of elk. I do believe that they were pretty lucky as they seem to only harvest the number of elk that they had tags for.
So many times you would hear of stories of Mule Deer hunters hunting the great state of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and even the great Steen’s Mountains in Oregon. Stories would be like the following. “Shot a dandy buck coming down to the wintering grounds, getting ready to gut it and a bigger buck came by and I shot him also.” Now this could all be hearsay or an inflated story, but usually people knowing that they have nothing to worry about, it most likely is the truth. The other line with these same stories, “we got the backstrap and hind quarters out of the canyon”. Many times a great deal of useable meat was left behind… So, is someone hunting deep in a rugged area for big bulls or bucks that only take the rake and backstrap poaching?
Well they are and now there are new laws that have slowed that down. Yet we all know it still goes on out there, just have to read the OSP (Oregon State Police) incident reports that are available on line. I am sure these reports are available to all in other states in the Union.
Here the Willamette Valley I have watched a section of land that has held monster Blacktail deer, prior to me getting permission to take pictures and later hunt the property. I would see these big 4 x 4 bucks and some dandy non-typical bucks, none of them ever carried over to the following year. I believe it was a free for all poachers that were willing to trespass the property. Now that I have put up No Trespassing Signs for more than 4 years, I have been able to watch deer that carryover. I understand that the neighbor is experiencing this in 2014. Access is easy and undetectable by the landowner.
“Come in the darkness and leave in the darkness undetected”
Have to say that some of the most humorous poaching cases are those during archery season, when the hunter has taken the game animal with a rifle and hoisted the animal in their garage or car port to skin the animal, only to have the neighbor call into the authorities that the person or persons have a deer hanging and they don’t bow hunt. It is only humorous because of the ignorance of the hunter!
Poachers can be a trespasser, not just person or persons that harvest game illegal in my opinion. This brings to mind about technology that is now used everywhere and many trespassers and poachers are now being caught. That would be trail cameras that are set out on private property as well as public lands. The new cameras available are undetectable by most, including the game. I have seen a few come onto the property that I hunt in the valley. I have asked the landowner if he know them of course before I pursue the individuals. Recently during the writing of the article, one of my hunters has noticed 2 persons coming into the trail cams range. They even have gone up into his treestand and sat. All is on camera to be seen, strange though as they caught the cams take their pictures, they were out of there. This also allows the hunter, landowners and other concerns the profiling of the game. The old cliché that all they look alike is nonsense.
Poaching will continue and poachers with be caught, they love to brag about their kills with pictures. Most are not old enough to remember a monster bull that was harvest some 30+ years ago in the Mt. Rainer National Park. It was a feature picture in the Oregon Hunting & Fishing Newspaper. It did not last long, as a hiker that frequent the area, knew the exact tree that the bull was posed in front of. It did not take long for the Washington Game Officers to be up to the spot with the picture. Oh! What a fine to poach in a National Park, now the Feds and the State are involved with the crime.
The State of Oregon the Oregon State Police have the finest Forensic Labs in the Nation. I bet most don’t know that they can tell whether a Mule deer came from the Steen’s Mts. or from The Dallas. The 21st Century is upon us and to gamble on taking an animal illegally is a big gamble, as you going to lose more than you can imagine.
Just take a look at Aronson’s in the Bend, Oregon area and thinking he and his wife was getting away with poaching and selling hunts that the animals weren’t his to sell on guided trips. More than $66,000.00 in fines, plus 23 others sited with a total of 1200 illegal game violations against the group. One thing I see he got off easy with 30 days in jail.
One can only get away with for a while; it will always catch up with you, if you don’t stop. I would call it Cold Turkey the process!
Even the once great Kirk Darner got caught in the taking of Boone & Crockett Mule Deer bucks every year for many years. In his case, I do believe his wives of few helped in the process. Be careful who you make enemies of when you are in the practice of poaching.
Remembering a customer once that got busted for harvesting a big Mule deer out of season and bull elk in the wrong area during a given year was busted because he owed money to the fellow that hunted with him on both hunts. The game officers were taken to both spots by the informant.
Some years ago while in the famous Fort Rock area of central eastern Oregon, I had spotted a monster Mule deer that had come down off from the Newberry Crater in to the stubble fields to winter. As I was leaving during the Thanksgiving holiday, driving through a foot of snow to the main highway, I noticed a pickup with a couple of guys. I had that feeling they were up to no good. They were in the heart of the wintering grounds for mule deer in this part of Oregon. I waited a couple of minutes and decided to double back, yep they were stopped, glassing and packing. My presence at that time was enough to stop the act of them making a mistake in life. So you are asking if the intent was there! It was as I left out that someone was standing along the truck with a rifle out! For that moment the buck had another lease on life. I hope he made it through the winter.
On last statement from the past in the 20th Century, is the taking of a Pronghorn – Antelope out of a helicopter with a shotgun legal? We know it is done with wild hogs in some states, but Pronghorn. There once was a world famous hunter with a restaurant that did just that. He has long since left the world, but many of his trophies are still around, though not in the restaurant any longer…
There are all types of poaching, but in most cases it usually in my opinion it is about the rack, horns or antlers as Number 1!
In conclusion game officers’ have to have the mindset of a poacher to catch a poacher! Law bidding hunters and citizens need to take a state in the wildlife we have and the new environment of anti-hunting and anti-guns and help put a stop to poaching!