Poachers Ruin Deer Camp ExperienceDecember 4, 2020
By BRANDON BUTLER
Opening weekend of firearms deer season was a disappointment, to put it mildly. Only one of the six hunters in our camp took a buck. The weather certainly did not cooperate. Rain, wind and lighting all impacted our hunting efforts, but it was the brazen, illegal act of poachers that really ruined the experience we had anxiously waited for all year. The Turn in a Poacher (TIP) program exists to fight back against such criminal activity against wildlife and wildlife enthusiasts.
It’s still hard to believe it was real. Four of us were sitting around a campfire on Sunday night. We’d had a rough weekend, but were looking forward to the crowds thinning out on Monday. It was around 8:30 p.m., so it’d been dark for three hours. We watched a truck roll down the hill leading into the hollow. It drove past my house and out into a private field about 100 yards off my land. They stopped not 50 yards behind my neighbor’s cabin. This field belonged to a man who recently died, so some may have been aware it was not being guarded.
Then the field lit up like someone had turned on the lights at a stadium. Before we had time to register what was happening, a shot rang out. Then another. The shooter was so close to us, we could see the muzzle flash. We couldn’t understand how this was happening. They had obviously seen our campfire and knew the lights were on in our neighbor’s cabin. They were overly aggressive in their poaching, with no regard for the two homes within 100 yards of where they were shooting.
We took off down my hill to confront the poachers as they drove out of the field. They didn’t stop at our urging to do so, instead pulling a move like “The Dukes of Hazzard” to speed up around us and flee the hollow. We don’t know what they killed. We looked for deer and blood in the field but didn’t find anything. It’s a large field. We were all sick over the experience, but got the license plate number and turned them in. We hope they are caught and convicted.
One of the guys in my camp, Nathan McLeod, said, “I don’t want to sound like a big softie, but it hurt my soul. I felt so bad for the deer, I couldn’t even hunt the next day. It just ruined the entire hunting experience for me. It’s like the deer don’t have a chance.”
Poaching eliminates the normal defenses of deer and causes so much strain on the species. It sort of makes it hard to want to pull the trigger on one legally, because you know the constant struggle they live with. For an ethical, dedicated hunter, who loves wildlife and works to improve habitat and further the ethical aspect of deer hunting, it’s heartbreaking to know what we are up against. Especially when they rub it right in your face, but we have to fight back. Turn in a Poacher (TIP) is our vehicle for doing so.
Turn in a Poacher, Inc. (TIP) is a non-profit conservation organization that exists to combat poaching. TIP helps protect fish and wildlife from violators. Hunters must do everything we can to publicly attack the practice of poaching, and spreading the word about TIP is one way you can help. It’s our responsibility to report violators, which can be done anonymously through TIP.
Sportsmen are the most vocal advocates for punishing poachers. When someone kills wildlife outside the bounds of law, it is a horrible reflection on hunters, because the general population often has trouble separating poachers from hunters. And too often, the mainstream media hurts hunters by blaming them for the actions of poachers.
Poaching is a crime against all Hoosiers. Our wildlife is held in public trust, meaning it belongs to us all. When one person breaks the law and poaches, it is a crime against the state. Ethical hunters must work together to deter poaching.
Reporting a violation is simple. Just call (800) 847-4367. There are dispatchers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And you may be rewarded for your anonymous “TIP.” If it leads to an arrest, you may receive as much as a $200 reward.
TIP offers memberships for $25 per year or Life Memberships for $250. TIP offers merchandise for sale that helps fund the program. It is available on the website http://tip.wild indiana.com.
You can also make financial contributions to help fund TIP. Send your donations to:
Turn in a Poacher, Inc.
402 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
See you down the trail…
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