By Scott Oxarart
Severed deer antlers are resting on the back of a hunter’s all-terrain vehicle, and they serve as a trigger for chief game warden Rob Buonamici.
The owner of the ATV is not present, so Buonamici, who works for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, leaves his truck to take a closer look. He’s concerned that he’s happened upon a vehicle that belongs to a poacher.
Buonamici is 90 minutes north of Gerlach, out of cellphone range and out of sight from the main road. It’s Oct. 11, the day before chukar season. Buonamici is out to make sure hunters aren’t getting an early start on the popular hunt.
“Anyone home?” he asks.
The hunting season starts in August and goes through Feb. 12. Hunters can harvest mule deer, elk, bears, mountain lions, sheep and waterfowl during that time. Wardens look for poachers masquerading as hunters, in addition to violators of hunting laws.
In Nevada, 31 wardens spread throughout the state patrol hunting lands and nearby areas. Wardens in Nevada are each responsible for patrolling about 3,000 to 3,300 square miles.
Buonamici said the national average is about 900 square miles per warden and that only Alaska has fewer agents monitoring its land. That means that backup is most of the time hours, if not days, away. More....