By Bobby Worthington
Aug 15, 2007 – 9:30:12 AM
Illegal killing of deer remains a major concern in many places? and it often begins at home.
Game poaching is a sensitive subject with me, because I live in an area where it is, and has always been, a big problem. Poaching continues to have a negative impact on all areas of hunting.
A poacher is a criminal. He is violating state and perhaps even federal laws. The person who knowingly and willingly violates game laws has no respect for the United States Constitution, upon which all of our laws are based.
Next, a poacher is a thief, and by stealing game animals he is victimizing legal hunters. The poacher steals from sportsmen who have paid for the management of wildlife and have likewise paid for the privilege to pursue it.
Have you ever known someone to show you a picture or a mount of a deer he killed and then make the statement, “I got him one night about 11:30 with my light,” or “I shot him out of my truck window while road hunting” or “I trespassed on some private land and got him.”?
If a poacher were a truthful person, upon being questioned by wildlife officials he would be charged and then subsequently found guilty by his own admission. And, if a person will lie about game violations, do you not believe he would tell a lie at any other time it would benefit him? Please do not be so naive as to believe such a person would avoid cheating you or me in any business deal.
We hunters are under a microscope today. The news media and non-hunting community wrongfully look down on us when a poacher gets publicity for his illegal acts. The public as a whole does not realize that a poacher is not a sportsman. In truth, he is not even a hunter.
What makes matters worse – much worse – is that many game violators think nothing of taking their children or other young persons along and teaching them to do the same thing. Shame on them. Have they ever considered what kind of negative effect they could be having on the success of children in the future if they are teaching them to poach game?
Once a young person sees how easy it can be to ride around in a warm truck and shoot deer illegally, it is very hard for him to quit “hunting” in that manner. He probably will return to the easy way when he compares it to getting up early in the morning and going out to sit on a cold stand all day. I have known few people to stop poaching once they started.
If the person does quit poaching and shoots a nice trophy legally, he will never receive recognition for it. Because of his past, it will always be suspected that he took the trophy illegally. Shame on the adult who starts a young person down this road. The youth who was taught to take game illegally might otherwise have developed the skills to do it the right way.
Some individuals try to justify the illegal taking of game by saying, “If the person eats the meat, its okay.” If a person drives by your field and shoots and steals your beef calf, is it okay, provided he eats it? The frivolous excuses some people use to try to justify a poacher’s illegal acts should be saved for kids and the mentally challenged. No reasonable adult is going to buy them.
Of course, there are many fine sportsmen, and for them we all should be thankful. And, I realize many times we cannot change what a person does or teaches his children. We can, however, give encouragement for either right or wrong by our influence.
A legitimate sportsman will not socialize or hunt with the criminals who are jeopardizing our sport. If you do so, it is an indictment of you, because you are condoning their illegal acts and by default encouraging them.
In this day and time, I do not believe that anyone would starve if kept from taking a game animal illegally. I venture to say that 99 percent of illegal hunters today poach for bragging rights. This individual more than likely feels inadequate in his hunting ability and thus will use any means to kill animals, in hopes that other people will then stroke his ego. In the end, the poacher is the loser; he and everyone who knows him eventually will realize that he is not a skilled hunter.
The true sportsman hunts for totally different reasons. One is the challenge of matching his own wits and abilities against those of his quarry. The sportsman will many times put limitations on the way he hunts and/or on the weapon he uses, all to ensure that his pursuit is in fair chase. In this challenge the sportsman finds self-worth, self-esteem and self-satisfaction. This person truly enjoys hunting and will enjoy it even if no one else ever knows anything about his hunting accomplishments.
In the end, we must impress on the young hunter – as well as many who are older – that the most important point of hunting is not where a person hunts, what he hunts or even how he hunts. To become a true sportsman, the hunter must realize that first and foremost, what really matters is why he hunts.
Next month, Chapter 16 – The Future of Hunting.