From rogue “hunters” who exceed bag limits to criminals who sneak out to kill deer at night in the off-season, all types of poachers do significant damage to wildlife, property, and our collective reputation as outdoorsmen.
There are some right steps to take to bring these low-lifes to justice — and just as many mistakes you can make that might exacerbate the situation. When you think a poacher is up to no good near you, here’s how to action:
Join forces with your neighbors. Don’t fall into the trap of feuding and competing with your hunting neighbors. Instead, look out for each other and work together to tackle trespassing and poaching problems. More sets of eyes on the lookout for criminal activity means a greater chance of preventing it altogether.
Make sure your land is clearly marked according to state regulations. Some states allow for painted boundary markers, or you can hang signs high so poachers and trespassers can’t easily tear them down. If it’s been a while since you updated your boundary lines, survey the property for damaged or missing markers and replace them immediately.
Employ (well-hidden) trail cameras to catch them in the act. Hang trail cameras and/or security cameras high in trees and angling down to capture criminals breaking the law. Make sure they’re well-camouflaged so poachers don’t steal them or even see them. Cellular trail cameras can come in handy here.
Document any suspected poaching activity and evidence. Whether it’s on your personal property or public ground, take note of everything you observe that’s not quite right — meat left to waste, the sound of gunfire at night, individuals walking into the woods with weapons out of season, etc. Jot down a vehicle description and license plate number or better yet snap a photo if the poachers parked nearby. Every little detail can help.
Always contact your state wildlife agency. Don’t let your ego get in the way. While it might be tempting to take matters into your own hands, the experts recommend you don’t confront the offenders yourself. The situation could escalate quickly and be potentially dangerous for you and your property. Instead, reach out to your state wildlife agency and/or local law enforcement and share your documentation with them. Some states even have dedicated tip lines for these types of violations. It’s also smart to establish a good relationship with wardens and other officials before problems arise so it’s easier to get a timely response when the poachers come around.