Dr. John Woods 11.26.18
John J. Woods
Magnolia Outdoor Communications
As a takeoff from the new TV series Blood Ivory about poaching, and selling ivory tusks from African elephants, we have our own little “bone” wars right here in the US. Forever it seems that unscrupulous individuals, and I refuse to call them hunters, have been trespassing and poaching white-tailed bucks for their big racks. In some areas it has become an under the table cash war to produce sizeable deer racks for sale and display.
Just a couple years ago, I was driving north on a state highway headed out of town. When I passed a deer carcass lying on the side of the road, my immediate thought was just another “road kill” which is common in our whitetail rich state. But then as I passed the dead deer, I looked in my rearview mirror to see a horror I had never witnessed before.
As I looked back it was clear that the entire head of the dead deer had been removed. The remainder of the deer’s body had just been dumped there on the roadside. I only wish I had my camera with me or the iPhone I own now. I took the first exit, to go back to get a closer roadside look.
Was this a road kill accident, then the car owner just took the head? We doubted it after the game and fish officials were called. They see it all the time. It was obvious to them that the deer had been a buck, and only the head was taken because of its antlered rack. Sad.
Then stories come every hunting season about brazened poaching where deer shooters either ride the rural farmland roads at night, or more often in broad daylight scoping out unsuspecting bucks grazing in fields alongside the roadway for a quick kill and head removal. Private lands trespassing and poaching have both been on the rise as values for the buck heads and meat escalate every season. Why someone would want to mount or display a poached buck is beyond me.
How do you stop trespassing and deer poaching on your private lands, hunted or not? First, despite state laws, clearly post your property boundaries. Patrol your lands as much as possible to show your presence. Put up or otherwise lock gates to all entry ways onto the property. Set up trail cameras at commonly breached crossing spots to catch would be trespassers or poachers.
When you catch a trespasser-poacher red-handed, call law enforcement authorities and have them apprehended and prosecuted. If you do not enforce your own property, then word gets out it is wide open. You have to put a stop to that.