By Cody Neff
If you’ve noticed that the bucks you bagged in the past haven’t been as big as they used to be, DNR officials say you might have poachers to blame. Officers at the Division of Natural Resources say they’ve been busy over the last month taking down poachers.
“There are a lot of hunters who go out and spend a lot of time hunting as their hobby,” Natural Resources Police Officer Josh Lambert said. “Now these bucks aren’t there for them to hunt legally. The mounted 12-point we recovered is a big deer.
“That’s a trophy buck. It’s definitely something that people would like to get, but now they can’t because of people who just go and kill them from beside the road illegally. It hurts future generations’ hunting too if they keep taking deer like this.”
Lambert says the suspect who admitted to poaching the deer crossed state lines to keep his crime hidden. For his troubles, the poached deer will end up hanging on the wall in the Beckley DNR office.
“The subject went across the state line to Virginia and called and registered the deer as killed with a muzzleloader,” he said. “In Virginia, hunters don’t have to get the deer physically tagged. They just call a number and write down a confirmation code. That’s a system that can be pretty easy to exploit. The subject then went and had the deer mounted.
“I originally got a tip about six months ago that a guy had killed it off the side of the road near Bradshaw in McDowell County with a muzzleloader. In October I went to talk to the suspect and he confessed to killing the deer illegally from the road and then I got a statement from him and confiscated the deer.”
The suspect pulled up to the side of the road, got out of his pickup, and shot the deer from the road, Lambert says.
“You have to be at least 25 yards from the road before you can shoot,” he said. “Also, you can’t shoot a firearm or bow from or across a highway. It was a one-lane paved road.
“I think most of the public are pretty aware of their laws, especially everyone in McDowell County. Everybody knows there’s no rifle or gun season in McDowell County. It’s only bow-hunting. The public could always use more education on the laws, though. They may not know a little something that could possibly get them in trouble with us. It can never hurt to keep educating everyone about the laws. That’s why we do hunter education and things like that.”
Lambert says it’s not about people not being able to kill enough deer. More....