deer (3)

Photo: Michael Smith

All across the country sportsmen and women have worked long and hard hours managing properties to produce an awesome deer season and enjoy the sport they love so much. For most, this means lots of tractor work, running feeders all year, planting food plots and providing improved habitats for the game that they so love to chase.

Even with all this work and preparation, it takes a great deal of skill to get the opportunity to harvest a deer, with the hope each year of harvesting a deer of a lifetime. Texas Parks and Wildlife have instituted regulations that are aimed at helping the deer population grow into a larger, older age class of deer being harvested.

The idea behind the 13” rule and one unbranched antler rule was set forth by extensive studies by wildlife biologists in hopes to produce a better, healthier, older class of deer. But even with all the work from hunters, research by biologists and regulations by Texas Parks and Wildlife, there is one major threat that causes great decline in the deer numbers and quality of deer. That threat is poachers. These are individuals who do not take the time or spend the money required to harvest deer in a legal manner. They have no regard for others and selfishly seek out “the kill”.

Take, for example, a small property in Lamar county in 2017 where a 14 year old girl had worked hard all season to provide herself with the best opportunity to harvest a mature buck. She’s spent countless hours working in the field, all the while maintaining her daily responsibilities, for the chance to make her dreams come true. This all seemed to be working when, in the summer, she began seeing a large, mature, 11-point buck frequenting her main hunting area. Ever excited, she hunted hard when the season started with this deer in her sights. On several occasions she was unable to take a shot on him because there was not an ethical shot with her bow, so she watched as he trotted away.

Then, in the early morning hours, under the cover of darkness, a single man shattered her dreams. On that cool, dark November morning that man used a spotlight, from the road and illegally killed the deer she had worked so hard to harvest. Without regard for the law, ethics or people, he fired into the land and ended the deer’s life. Now there’s no honor in that. As he lay in wait to claim his ill-gotten game, he was spotted and ran.

The deer was recovered by local game wardens and an investigation ensued. Even though the poacher did not get the deer, for that hunter who worked so hard and spent so much time and money, nothing would be the same for the season. The deer population was also impacted because had he not been harvested legally he would have been able to breed and help improve the genetics in the area. Unfortunately, poachers do exist and they threaten the very fiber of the sport we so love and work so hard for. It absolutely devastating to those who follow the law and put in the effort to have to face these criminals every year. It’s not only wrong for the animals, which are often wounded and the meat goes to ruin, but it’s a safety concern for the hunters.

These poachers don’t care what their backstop is, it could be a hunter, car, or house. All that matters to them is the kill and that is in no way what a true hunter represents So often people know of individuals who commit these crimes, but they go unreported. In doing this we are allowing it to continue. It’s time that we as hunters band together and demand better. Game Wardens work hard to protect the game, but there are very few game wardens. They need our help to be their eyes and ears as they can’t be everywhere at all times. Refuse to allow poaching and do what is right for the safety and well-being of hunters and the sport.

Texas Parks and Wildlife can be contacted directly as you can remain anonymous.

Lamar County- 903-737-4810

Red River County- 903-219-1874 or 903-219-1197

Operation Game Thief- 800-792-4263 (GAME)

Be a voice, stand up for what’s right and be a hunter.

Michael Smith

My name is Michael.
I’m a Christian, husband, father, and hunter, in that order. I have spent the last 13 years learning all I can about all aspects of hunting and enjoy learning more every day. I have a wonderful wife and 3 amazing children! I have lived in Paris all my life and love my community!

Address: 6335 Lamar Rd. Reno, Tx. 75462 Phone: 903-784-6059

Talk to the experts, and check out hunting essentials at Broadhead Barn in Reno, Texas.