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Highway Robbery In The Desert!

newsletter 9 15 Guy

As much as I enjoy fall and seeing all the pictures of the exceptional deer and elk that come through our office, as well as my own time in the field, there is one thing that irritates me to no end. Poaching! The great highway robbery that takes place every fall while the vast majority of hunters work their tails off to harvest big game trophies ethically and legally.

This morning I got the first of what will likely be many to come; mass emails from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department detailing three poaching cases. A bull elk was shot in unit 124, one of the best units in our fine state and also one of the hardest tags to draw. To add insult to injury, two antelope bucks were shot and left for dead in units 92 and 112. Both units are good hunts and if I were one of the lucky ones to have one of those hard to draw tags, I would be mad.

The fact of the matter is that every time anyone, regardless of status, unlawfully kills one of these animals, they rob someone else of opportunity, whether it be this year or the next when quotas reflect all animals taken. The bull shot in 124 appears to be a fairly young bull based on the picture but with the trophy potential for this unit, who knows what it could have been for a legal hunter in the next couple of years. Someone robbed the public resource of opportunity and that should resonate with all of us.

If you know anything about these cases, make sure you report it to the Wyoming Game And Fish tip line and make sure you harvest your trophies by the letter of the law this fall. We do our best in the MRS to include law changes for all 11 western states and hope you find them helpful when you are hunting this fall. We have always had strong opinions about poaching and that will never change. Fair chase is the only way to hunt and take trophy big game and that also means following all of our respective game laws! Good luck this fall and see you in the field!


About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Damn the poachers and killers who leave game to rot. This should not be accepted nor tolerated.
    Everyone should do their part to keep these events under control and punish the violators.

  2. Many judges make poaching worth taking the chance. Several years ago a poacher in Montana, paid a smaller fine for killing a 4×4-mule deer and a 6-point bull elk, than the total cost of the out of state tags. The attorneys claim the animals are higher than the states population objective, so the lost of the animal did not harm the game population.

  3. Unfortunately its not all to uncommon for a so called hunter to shoot a game animal then decide “upon ground shrinkage” they didnt want it because it was too small of a rack. Or they just shot it for the purpose of killing it. The jack-asses need a good sac tapin.
    Complete waste of game and future opportunity for someone who could truly appreciate the animal.
    We as true sportsmen and hunters need to turn in every act of poaching or illegal activity we see. I even have a biz card of a local OSP game officer in my wallet for such occasions.

  4. I’m not entirely sure that some of these were actual cases of “poaching” as opposed to hunters who simply shot animals that they couldn’t recover. Most poachers are killing animals for antlers/horns, so leaving an animal intact and left to rot doesn’t make sense.

    I think those kills may be attributed to something else: the increasing popularity of so-called “long range hunting” that encourages hunters to take shots from distances where it may be difficult or impossible to determine if the animal was hit.

    Even if the hunter knows he hit the animal, he may not be able to locate the exact spot where the animal was standing when hit so he can look for blood sign and try to track it.

    Unfortunately, in cases where the animal doesn’t immediately drop, I suspect many hunters never even bother to hike the 500 to 1,000 yards over to where the animal was standing to look for sign of a hit. It makes sense to me that practice that could explain the two dead antelope bucks Guy mentioned in his article.

    I know there are many who will disagree (some vehemently). This is just my opinion.

    • The animals that Guy mentioned were shot from a road, so your observations about not finding the animals due to long range shooting are incorrect. It’s the thrill killer at work here. Stealing form those who play by the rules.

    • Most poaching is done from the road. While it is true some game is lost and cannot be recovered, that is not what we are talking about here. Poaching is way different animal [pardon the pun]. Another famous type of poaching is “Jack Lighting” game using a high power spotlight and that type of poaching cannot be done long distance. The most ordinary type of poaching is the ‘out-of-season’ poach where the individual simply goes out and shoots the animal out of season for meat or just for ‘fun’. Because it’s poaching, however, seldom do you get accurate figures and statistics regarding its prevalence or its frequency.

      • You got it right John. A lot of the poaching cases are caused by the same ones who vandalize property by shooting it up. Young adults.
        Some of the poachers caught by Wyoming G&F are handed a slap on the wrist for their illegal activities. As per the G&F website, an illegal outfitter was fined some $1,600.00 in fines and loss of hunting privileges for a long time…whoop-de-doo. In the span of 3 years he made over $100,000.00. I guess it pays to poach.

  5. I have dealt with poaching for many years around our property and as a law enforcement officer in the community that I worked in. The fact is…there is nothing to stop them. The courts are lackadaisical at best if they are caught. And even though I appreciate my fellow game wardens..you can’t catch poachers working only during day shift. The state Conservation Department isn’t providing the resources and manpower to curb the issue. On our’s and the adjoining property we have found a dozen dismembered dear over the last 10 years. Two 170+ bucks had repeatedly been seen in a Alfalfa field and met their demise the week before rifle season opened two years ago. The poachers have taken to using ATV’s to get around and are using battery powered sawz-all’s to do the dirty work quickly and quietly. Without stiff punishment, confiscation of vehicles and firearms there is no end to this dilemma.

    • How true. Spotlighting game is the most prevalent of poaching approaches. The cover of night aids the poacher and the deer freeze in the spotlight making them easy targets. I’m curious, where are you from? I know our game wardens don’t just work the ‘day shift’. I personally know a couple of wardens who work night shifts…but only if there is an outbreak of poaching in an area. I’m from Idaho and there is a lot of acreage in my state to patrol and not enough wardens to do the job adequately. We rely on citizens to help as well as local and state law enforcement to aid as well. We don’t catch ’em all, but we do catch quite a few. Most of my fellow hunters are not ashamed to ‘rat-out’ a poacher when we see it happening. I personally have the Fish & Game poaching number on the dash of my Bronco and will call if I ever witness this type of killing. I too see no end to this dilemma. PS: excellent post, Anthony.

  6. Totally agree with Anthony Barbers dilemma assessment !!!!!

  7. Just a short note: In one of my hunting mags, I saw an ad for night vision scopes and night vision monoculars. Well isn’t that just the ticked for a poacher? It isn’t bad enough they jack-light deer and elk at night, now they’ve got night vision to enhance illegal activity. Isn’t that just peachy-keen!

  8. It is the Courts complete lack or caring. Stiffer penalties and fines, even jail time. Criminals are not afraid of our jails or penalties. It is sad, very sad for those of us who wait eight or ten years to obtain a tag in some areas and do everything legally.
    Richard Ray

  9. Good points gentlemen. I agree the problem lies in lack of sufficient penalties for these crimes and a lack of resources to catch the criminals. I even think part of the problem lies in law enforcement officers “looking the other way” out of fear of revenge from these bums that have nothing better to do than break the law and hold a grudge against anyone that catches them.

  10. In southeast Idaho we have the problem of the reservation members coming into the areas of high game numbers a couple of weeks before season. Killing as many numbers and trophies as they want then moving on out. Enforcement can not do any thing but hold the gate open for them. I say let them use the same weapons and transportation they used to use 200 plus years ago when treaties were made or follow our game laws.

  11. I agree on poaching but when you are a small land owner, 100 acres, and the guy next to you comes in and puts up a high fence and most of the deer have gone from your place to his during the time because he fed the daylights before he fenced it in and you couldn’t, now you have just a few deer, I consider that poaching and then he is selling hunts with deer that the state, taxpayers owned to make money.. this is just not right…

  12. I think if the game department catches a poacher the fine should be $10.000, five years in jail, loose all their guns, and never be able to hunt in these united States again period

    • Yes Tom, as I mentioned earlier, these Judges need to step up the fines for poaching.
      That illegal outfitter I wrote about would be $90,000.00 ahead even with that $10,000.00 fine you suggested. He should have been fined the gross total of any profit he made in his illegal activities. Makes you wonder how much he really made including “Under the table” money and tips. Crooked SOB. I hate a thief!

  13. The elk was killed at night with a spotlight off highway 430, it was definitely a poaching. This has occurred quite often off this highway and practically in the same location. Need larger penalties for those who DO get caught.

  14. Agree that stiffer penalties are the key. Here in Colorado we have a “Samson’s law” which mandates fines up to $20,000 and lifetime loss of hunting rights in most Western states for poaching trophy quality animals. Fyi, Samson was a HUGE bull elk poached by a bowhunter in Estes Park years ago that infuriated the entire community.

  15. Many years ago, one night prior to the opening of deer season in the GW National Forrest in VA, we heard numerous shots late that night. The next day we scouted through that area and found about 15 does, bucks, and fawns laying where they fell the previous night. What a waste!!! We quickly reported this travisty to the local game warden. That evening we waited in the woods in that area hoping these same slobs to return, but no luck. I never found out if they were ever arrested.

    • The few ruin it for the many. Poaching is the most cowardly thing you can do in the hunting world. It shows a complete lack of appreciation for the game that is poached and a complete lack of self-concept and/or esteem. People who poach are people who think it is “manly” to go out in the woods and destroy whatever their little hearts desire and, unfortunately, they often get away with it or are punished so leniently that they think it’s just dandy to go out an do it again. But LEAVE THE MEAT LAY? That’s complete idiocy. I could maybe see poaching if the person needed and used the meat, but to leave the meat to rot? Cold. Very very cold.

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