“Come out and look at this. It looks like blood,” said my wife Linda.
It was the Sunday after the close of the firearms season on deer, and she was right, that was blood on the snow beside our attached garage. Someone had dragged a deer out of the woods to the edge of our garage and apparently loaded it into a vehicle.
I followed the drag marks into the woods to the gut pile, about 100 yards from the house at the edge of the lake. In addition to the innards of a small deer, they had left me two empty beer bottles.
The beer bottles infuriated me as much as the possibility that these hunters had shot the deer in my backyard. I spent some time checking their tracks, the blood drops from the wounded deer, and any other evidence I could gather to understand what had happened. I was especially concerned that they might have been shooting near or at our house.
I conducted my own investigation, starting with a call to my neighbors, who reported hearing four shots in my backyard at 3 pm on Friday afternoon, while we were at my brother’s celebrating a delayed Thanksgiving feast. The neighbor also reported seeing four hunters on my property at that time.
At the Mount Vernon Country Store, I took a look at the deer registration book and found that only one deer was reported shot at 3 pm and registered at 4 pm on that Friday. The name of the registrant – a 13-year-old girl – was familiar to me.
I’ll just say that these people are well known to me and I spoke to one of them without calling the Maine Warden Service.
Is it any wonder that landowners are increasingly frustrated with Maine’s deer hunters? Or that more land is posted every year?
What I want you to know is this. You don’t have to put up with this behavior. You can get help from the Maine Warden Service, or even perform your own investigation as I did, including accessing the deer registration book at the local tagging station. And what you do with the information is entirely up to you.
I wrote this story for the January, 2012 newsletter of the Small Woodland Owners Association. It turned out there was a lot more story to tell.
Maine Warden Service had an undercover agent hunting with this group of poachers – including the incident in my backyard.
Today, in my Bangor Daily News blog, I’ve posted the rest of the story. Great work by the Maine Warden Service!