By Lindsay Thomas Jr.
“Poaching is not a big deal if you are doing it to feed your hungry family.”
This is an opinion I’ve heard several people express recently whenever the subject of poaching or trespassing comes up in hunting discussions. “If they’re trying to feed their family, give them a break,” is the sort of thing I hear.
The photo above shows a New York buck that was shot at night, from a public road. The poacher took the buck’s head and left the entire body in the ditch. When the photo was shared on social media, hunters were outraged, of course, but the comments included these:
“I don’t have a problem with someone shooting the occasional doe if they need the meat, but to shoot a big buck and just take the head, I’ll turn that one in.”
“Poaching for food to feed your family is one thing, but this guy needs to be apprehended!”
“I look at poaching differently if it is someone that needs to feed their family and takes the meat.”
I couldn’t disagree more with these folks. The more I hear people expressing this opinion, the more it seems to be picked up and repeated by others. I don’t like this trend. It needs to stop, and here’s why.
Poaching is Dangerous. In the case of the headless buck mentioned above, what the photo didn’t show was the home standing just behind the deer’s carcass at the back of a field. The house stands pretty much in the line of fire from where the poacher’s vehicle must have stopped in the public road. Bullets seeking tenderloins for the table are often fired from public roads into private lands – where the background might hide any number of people, homes, schools, businesses, or livestock. I assume the people quoted above would not want their homes and families in that background, even if someone else’s hungry family was involved? If you think I’m exaggerating this danger, talk to the Beau Arndt Foundation, a group dedicated to the memory of 18-year-old Beau Arndt of Kansas. In 2007, Beau and friends were hunting geese in a field using decoys. A poacher on a nearby public road fired into the decoys with a high-powered rifle, hitting and killing Beau. More....