A Downside

Here’s what we’re subjected to this time of year.


Look carefully in the distance and you’ll see two pickup trucks, parked on the side of the road. These are “hunters” (they don’t really deserve that word). Having set loose a pack of dogs somewhere, they’re waiting here for a chance to shoot at the deer the dogs are chasing, despite the fact that they’re on a public road with private posted property on both sides on them (including our pasture).

It’s illegal of course.  If confronted (and I have confronted guys like them many times) they’ll insist that they’re just “waiting on our dogs.”


Thankfully we’ve had less trouble than usual this year.  A couple of the folks who live on our road lobbied hard over the summer for increased patrols by the game warden.  One woman has put up signs warning dog owners that she has coyote traps set on her property.  We’ve also put up posted signs along the edge of the road and one of my neighbors has been diligent about chasing them off.

But even with the improvements, the problem hasn’t entirely gone away.

From where I took this picture I was about a third of a mile from our house. By the time I walked home, got in my truck and drove up there they’d likely be gone.  In this case they noticed me shortly after I took the picture and they drove away.

Having to deal with poachers and irresponsible hunters is one of the few downsides to rural living.


23 comments on “A Downside

  1. Joanna says:

    I guess this is one of the ways hunting is different here in Latvia. Here in Latvia a hunter needs a contract with a landowner to be hunting on their land. They also need contracts with lots of owners in order to be able to hunt, as they have to belong to a hunting organisation that has responsibility for at least 2500ha to hunt the bigger deer, 250ha for the smaller more numerous ones. There are still issues between hunters and farmers, but this usually stems from contracts written shortly after independence in the 90s when contracts were something new and unusual. I haven’t heard of people just turning up and hunting from the road, except with a rather discreditable organisation and that has numerous other issues too, not just that and nowadays they are being made to toe the line more (is that just a British phrase?). I guess poaching must happen, but I think that is more likely to be just one hunter and a dog and not a group. They would certainly lose their hunting licence if caught though. It is not so easy to get one of those here – another big difference.


    • Bill says:

      Here they are required to have a license and written permission from the property owner. I’m sure most people follow the rules, but there are way too many of these roadside “truck hunters” who are unwilling to hunt the right way. Many of them aren’t even hunting for food. They just shoot the deer and leave it there. It’s maddening.

      If they’re caught the penalties are very stiff. They can lose not only their licenses but also their guns and their trucks. But we’re the largest county in the state and we only have 2 game wardens. These guys like roads like ours because they aren’t many houses on it. It’s very difficult to catch them in the act.


      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        I don’t understand why people (you’re right, they’re NOT hunters): use dogs to run game – other than guarantee tough meat. As I was taught, there is a Sportsman’s code and no honour in shooting “fish in a barrel”, “ducks on the water” or panicked beast pursued by a pack of blood-thirsty dogs. Where’s the skill in that?
        In Ontario, if you’re caught breaking hunting (or fishing) laws,


  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, deer poaching has been around as long as I can remember. In the state of Nebraska dogs are not allowed to hunt deer. They are only used for bird hunting, and ground critters such as rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, or Opossum. Road shooting is high on the list of no no(s) here in Nebraska but as you say there are only so many game wardens and the poachers seem to know how to avoid them. I’m not sure what the answer would be. At least here in Nebraska the poachers almost always take the deer and don’t just shoot for sport unless they get caught in the act and flee. One of the laws here in Nebraska that I thought was odd, is that if a vehicle hits a deer a kills it, no one can take the deer. It has to lay by the road until the country hauls it away to the rendering plant. I always thought it to be such a waste. It must be some kind of health regulation thing. I hope and pray you make it through the season without too many poachers on your land.

    Have a great deer season day. Or is it even deer season?


    • Bill says:

      Virginia is one of the few states where it is still legal to hunt deer with dogs. Our county chose to outlaw it, but only in the western half of the county. For some reason, which no one has ever been able to explain to me, it’s still legal to hunt deer with dogs in the eastern half (our half) of the county.

      I didn’t know about Nebraska’s law, but there are pretty stupid laws out there about road kill. I blogged about that last year: https://practicingresurrection.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/roadkill/


  3. shoreacres says:

    I remember you talking about this problem in past seasons. I’ve been sitting here wondering why it seems to be less of a problem here. We certainly have our share of irresponsible people… One thing that might come into play is the sheer size of our state, and the proportionally larger area of public lands available for huinting. If you’ve got a license, you can find a place to hunt.

    Of course, just shooting and leaving the deer moves the discussion in a wholly different direction. The phrase “displaced agression” comes to mind, among others.


    • Bill says:

      It’s probably less of a problem because it’s not legal to hunt deer with dogs. There are some guys who drive along roads like ours at dusk, hoping to shoot a deer when they come out from the woods into the fields (as they do when it gets dark). But the biggest problems come from the dog hunters.

      Sadly there are people who think it’s fun to kill animals. They hunt despite no intention of eating what they kill. Just yesterday I took our trash to the dumpster and someone had dumped a dead deer there. It must have been a buck with a nice set of antlers, because they had cut off the deer’s head and left everything else on it untouched. I find that sort of thing disgraceful.


  4. cindy knoke says:

    people hunt illegaly on the nature preserve next to our property, usually in the early morning, not in broad daylight, like these clowns.


    • Bill says:

      The kinds of people that give us the most trouble are lazy. They don’t want to stray too far from the warm confines of their truck (and whatever booze they have in it). Sneaking onto someone’s property (or a nature preserve) and still hunting would require too much effort from them.


  5. avwalters says:

    Here in Michigan we also have that strange season that disables pick up trucks by the side of the road. They have to have permission, though, to hunt on private property. And no dogs for deer season. Here dogs are used (retrievers) for game fowl, and there are some who use them for bear, but not deer. I have a friend who, irritated that a hunter parked and hunted her property, began letting the air out of their tires. I never heard back if it was an effective deterrent.


  6. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Right! Where was I? Conservation Officers, in the province of Ontario, have the right of search and seizure – without requiring a warrant- anything used in the acquisition, transportation or storage of illegal catch (which could include guns, vehicles, freezers, homes…) but again, laws are only as good as their enforcement, right?


    • Bill says:

      The penalties are very stiff, but it is hard to catch them. The game wardens sometimes set up a dummy mechanical deer along the edge of the woods and set up surveillance. One of our local truck hunters lost a truck that way a couple of years ago.


  7. Poaching takes place here, like everywhere, Bill. But it is minimal, and no dogs. –Curt


  8. Rachel says:

    I grew up in the country in southern Indiana, and raccoon hunters would set their dogs loose in our woods. My mom, who is fearless (sometimes to a fault) would get riled up because her dogs in the pen would start getting upset. I’ll never forget one night, she stormed down into the woods, grabbed the hunting dogs by the collar and marched them all back up to our house. When the hunters started yelling for the dogs, she screamed, “IF YOU WANT YOUR DOGS, YOU WILL COME HERE AND GET THEM.” They had to walk into our yard and receive a blistering lecture about trespassing before she let them take their dogs and ordered them off our property.


    • Bill says:

      Good for her! My Daddy was more hot-tempered than me and I’ve seen him run trespassers off at gunpoint. Maybe I should do that at least once to get the word out.

      One of the best things to do with the deer dogs is feed them. The hunters keep them half-starved in order to motivate them. Whenever we find any on our farm we try to give them a big meal.


      • Woody says:

        Our friends to the south of us ran some dog runners off their property a few years back. The “hunters” argued that they have been running their dogs for years “all across this river valley”. Oddly the property they were on has been in the same family for over a century. The next week their 100 year old barn burned to the ground. Ruthless.


      • Bill says:

        That kind of thing has happened here too. A guy who was trapping legally during the season had his barn burned down. When I moved away in 1978 the deer hunting mania hadn’t begun. When I returned home many years later I laid down the law about this kind of thing not be allowed on our place and a friend of mine cautioned me to tone it down a bit or they might shoot some of my livestock.


  9. I totally understand how you feel. These people are extremely disrespectful… Hunting is hghly regulated here in Switzerland.




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