Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Game Warden Files--Stacked up Like Cordwood

We all have lots of pictures in our mind but not many real pictures of the events of our careers. There are dozens I wish I had but one stands out. It was my patrol car, a Dodge sedan, with so many deer tied on the truck deck that the bumper was dragging.

It all started with a young guy calling to tell me that a party of other hunters had stolen a nice deer from him. He gave me a pretty good statement about it, identifying who the others were and where they'd gone, but the problem remained about who really killed the deer. Common decency says that the hunter who drew first blood "owns" the deer. If another hunter finishes it off and the first one comes upon it, it's the property of the first hunter. The law, however isn't really specific and I couldn't do much to help him...until he started telling me all he knew about this hunting party.

I got in touch with Larry Johnson, in whose territory the events were occurring and we started in on the case. Before the sun had set we had seized three deer, though we knew there were more to be found. All were antlerless and taken in an area where deer management permits were not allowed, so it was bucks only. At least one was untagged entirely and memory fails me to as to all the violations involved. We wrote all the tickets we could for the moment and had to call it a night. As the night had fallen, the temperature had also dropped.  We had gotten pretty badly chilled so we decided to regroup in the morning. On the way home I figured I'd get rid of the deer. I made a call to the church that did the sportsmen's dinners and made arrangements to drop them off. I also had an acquaintance who was down on his luck and could use a little winter meat. I backed into his driveway and unloaded the deer on top of the pile. Between rigor mortise and the frigid temperature the legs of the deer were locked out straight and it stood up in the driveway. Though tempted to just drive off, I knocked on his back door and told him I needed to see him outside. When he saw the deer standing in his back yard he had a good hard laugh.

The next morning, Larry and I met and attempted to chase down the rest of the deer. By then, we'd figured out where they had been, but were too late. The building was virtually sterile. It had been either pressure washed or steam-cleaned and the floor was still wet. We were able to make one additional arrest out of this, but never got the guys we really wanted.

We never did find the buck that our complainant had lost. We figured that it, and any other deer we'd been looking for had been bulldozed underground during the night. Though we didn't make all the arrests we wanted, we're pretty sure that several guys had a very sleepless night. Sometimes we had to settle for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment