Thursday, November 14, 2013

Game Warden Files--and Still More Decoy Stories

A couple other decoy stories deserve telling while stories are being told. There's a little place called Stony Creek tucked away in the southern Adirondacks. A very long dead end road leads out of the hamlet and there was a large number of hunting camps in that country. They would be occupied for most of the North Zone season and generally empty out on the Sunday night before the South Zone season opened so the hunters could get ready for their trips south. Just after dark the parade would begin and go well into the night. There was always a couple hunters that would be road hunting on the way out of camp and Ray VanAnden and I decided to set the decoy up one night to see who we could talk into taking a shot.

There was a long straightaway with a slight turn at the end. Straight off the end of the road was an open field--the perfect spot for a deer to get caught in the headlights. A car coming down the road would have have a straight shot at the decoy. There was a seasonally used house at the end of the field and Ray took up residence on the back porch while I backed up an old logging road out of sight.

It wasn't long before a pickup came down the road and drove right out into the field like it was going to hit the decoy. It stopped short and the hunters jumped out ready for the kill. Ray ran from his hiding place and had them before I could get out of the woods. We signed them up, sent them on their way and got back into our positions to wait for the next customers.

We didn't wait long and another pickup came down the road at a pretty good rate of speed. It stopped pretty quickly with the headlights square on the decoy. The passenger got out, stood in the road and fired two shots. Ray called me with "Shots fired!"--as if I hadn't heard them--and I started out of my hiding place in the woods. When the deer didn't fall over, the driver panicked and took off down the road. I went down the road lights and siren going to catch the truck and left Ray to deal with the guy in the road. I caught up with the pickup a couple miles away and escorted it back. Turns out it was a father-son operation. Dad was driving and the son was the shooter. We wrote them up and called it a night. I'm sure that Dad's disappearing act did a lot for family harmony.

One thing we recognized with the decoy was that it really didn't matter what kind of rack it was sporting. We had  multiple racks to put on its head. We had a 6 point set that got shot several times, but the best bait seemed to be a spindly little 3 pointer. One afternoon, as I sat on the front porch of a sweet little old lady who fed me cookies and tea, I had a guy jump out of his truck and put two rounds in it. Ray and Mike Trottier pulled up and snatched him out of there so we cold keep the operation running, and we had another one in a matter of minutes. The first guy we grabbed we knew from a couple weeks before when he'd been the complainant on a case in which we'd arrested a guy with two out of season does. We allowed him to settle out for a pretty low price because of the case he'd given us only a short time before.

A couple weeks later, Mike called me on the phone with a "you aren't going to believe this" story. He and Ray had caught the same guy in a different county and he'd shot the decoy with the same rack set as he had the first time. This time the settlement cost him quite a bit more.  We submitted a revocation request on him and I don't recall any incidents with him for the rest of my career.

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