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Old September 11, 2010, 02:59 PM   #1
Southern_guy
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Guns and Gamewardens

On occasion I go coyote or vermin hunting with friends either on their land or on a local farmer's who wants some pests cleaned out. The last time I did it, a thought struck me: our dress, gear, and activities could be easily misinterpreted as poaching.
To elaborate, we would usually either look for tracks during the day and set up on a hillside, or camp out near the nearest creek or pond with a spotlight ready for any vermin appear.

So you've got a small group of males from their late teens to mid twenties with rifles at night with flashlights and a spotlight in areas that are frequented by wildlife. I may be paranoid, but it seems like it would look very bad to LEOs.

Is there any way you can think of to prove that you are not poaching? Or to avoid the issue entirely, what is required to be legally accused of participating in poaching?
I was thinking maybe of getting a handwritten note from the landowner, or minimizing the number of weapons in the party as a solution.
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Old September 11, 2010, 03:57 PM   #2
Edward429451
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Rifles at night with flashlights always meant shootin rats to us. I wouldn't limit my activities because an LEO might not like it. Of course use your head but treat as an absurdity the similarity of you to poachers. If you're not poaching then you're not poaching. No dead animals here except for rats.
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Old September 11, 2010, 04:30 PM   #3
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
I was thinking maybe of getting a handwritten note from the landowner, or minimizing the number of weapons in the party as a solution.
Yes to the former and no to the latter. The number of weapons isn't going to be what makes the warden think you are poaching.

Quote:
Or to avoid the issue entirely, what is required to be legally accused of participating in poaching?
Depends on your local and federal laws. The taking of animals contrary to law is a form of poaching. Attempting to take animals illegally is poaching. Using illegal methods is poaching. Taking more than your limit is poaching. Taking of out of season, wrong age, wrong sex, is poaching...all under the broadest definition of "poaching."

Get the letter from your landowner stating you have been asked to help control pests and have those stipulated on the letter. Verify that they are all legally considered to be pest species. Make sure the letter names you specifically and that you are allowed guests.

If you are really worried about being tagged for poaching when you weren't, don't take a bead on any non-pest species.

Oh, and depending on the law, you and each of your guests may need to have valid hunting licenses.
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Old September 11, 2010, 05:21 PM   #4
highvel
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In my encounters with VA Game Wardens they were all professional and very sharp at what they do. A good game officer will take one look at you and know if your up to no good, at least around here they are!
Most times equipment, setup,calls, etc. show what your intent is, I wouldn't use a 7 MM Mag for gophers though.
I Virginia anytime you use a spotlight you will attract attention, we have way too many scum bags that think its manly to kill a buck with a Q-beam.:barf:

It's so bad I'll call the law on anyone I see shinning fields!!!!!
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Old September 12, 2010, 04:25 AM   #5
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guns

it seems to me that in tenn. we cant shoot anything after dark. even coyotes.
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Old September 12, 2010, 10:12 AM   #6
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Seems like the only times i've seen the warden is with a fishing pole in my hands. Then only on holidays.
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Old September 12, 2010, 10:13 AM   #7
Carne Frio
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Have you contacted your local fish and game ?
They should be able to answer your questions.
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Old September 13, 2010, 09:04 AM   #8
twobit
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A courtesy call to the game warden (office) prior to night hunting destructive non-game animals (such as hogs) is highly encouraged here in SW Texas. That way, when citizens call in that they are hearing shots at 2am and see spotlights, the game warden does not immediately suspect deer poaching. Also often times they are off duty, home, asleep, and would have to dress, drive to the area, and try and find you. They will not be in the best of moods. Giving them your cell phone number ahead of times keeps everyone's feathers from being ruffled.
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Old September 14, 2010, 01:45 AM   #9
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What Double Naught Spy said.
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Old September 14, 2010, 05:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Giving them your cell phone number ahead of times keeps everyone's feathers from being ruffled.
Now that is a good idea!

I was once hired by an official group of game wardens, to give a class different than the Police program they had been using (.38 Mod 10 S&W program) no use of other weapons.

Reason? this was in Ontario. Canada, just across the border into Quebec, Game Wardens had been killed by poachers in Quebec! they were concerned.

They worked on their own, a marked pick up truck was the mode of transport.

The program I set Incorporated Rifle/Shotgun/Revolver. Not a lot of rounds, but dynamic.

The threat to them was coming on a hunting camp, with more deer than tags!

They with the holstered S&W, 6 rounds of semi-wad-cutters, two speed loaders.

My advice, after the training (in which all 6 did well, they could shoot!)incorporating one of the many pump shotguns they had? confiscated? not sure, reduce the barrel length to handy to manipulate length, 14" was most likely what they went to, a sling and 1oz slugs.

(14" legal for anyone, if more than 26" overall in Canada)

Fully loaded, one up the pipe, safety on, slung. "Good morning gents, be on the lookout for rabid skunks!" "We have had one case of a bite, and a series of really painful shots followed"
Now the hunters were more apt to look around their camp, while tags could be checked, licenses too. Break the game laws, vehicle, guns, gone! + Big $$$.

They did go the shotgun route, not sure if the story was followed! But you were much safer with that kind of instant offense, than a .38. holstered.

The training was done in Rainy River, way north, hardy people.

Last edited by Brit; September 14, 2010 at 05:32 AM.
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Old September 14, 2010, 08:12 AM   #11
Rifleman1776
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I would ask the question of your game warden before hand. Tell him what you are doing and how best to avoid a misunderstanding.
In Arkansas just using a flashlight at night is a violation, with certain exceptions like ranching, etc.
However, the feral hog situation is changing the picture considerably. Killing of the hogs is encouraged and the best time to do that is at night.
Still, I would contact the wardens in advance.
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Old September 14, 2010, 06:18 PM   #12
Brian Pfleuger
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I'm going to say that you're a little on the paranoid side.

Whatever you're killing either doesn't have a season or is in season. You are conducting yourselves legally for the purposes of hunting whatever critter it is that you're hunting. They can't just walk up, particularly on private land, and accuse you of poaching. Your response is simple.... "Prove it."

Been there, done that. I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a slightly overzealous warden who accused me of using illegal buck shot on deer because I had some in the large duffel bag with all my shotgun paraphernalia. The bag never left my vehicle.

It went like this:

Him: I think you're hunting with illegal ammunition.
Me: Why?
Him: You've got some in your bag.
Me: So?
Him: I think you were hunting with it.
Me: I wasn't.
Him: I think you were.
(Repeat the above about 14 times)
Finally....
Me: Are you going to ticket me or not?
Him: No, but I think you're lying.
Me: Ok, well,. have a nice day officer. Bye.


Bottom line: They can't just "decide" that you're poaching. They need evidence. Just go hunting. Don't worry so much.
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Old September 15, 2010, 08:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Bottom line: They can't just "decide" that you're poaching. They need evidence.
Yes and no. They may still ticket you if they think their evidence is sufficient and then let the issue play out in court. For example in your state of NY, you can't be carrying around a rifle larger than a .22 rimfire (muzzleloaders excepted) in areas where rifles are banned for hunting deer. You may not actually be hunting deer, but cited none-the-less. You can be cited for spotlighting if you are in a motor vehicle, using a spotlight and there is an uncased rifle or strung bow with you. Maybe you have the arms for the purpose of self defense and are just spotlighting to see what animals you have in your field on a given night. You aren't actually hunting, but have violating the law for hunting. These would be considered illegal hunting methods, hence poaching.
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Old September 15, 2010, 09:45 AM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNS
Yes and no. They may still ticket you if they think their evidence is sufficient and then let the issue play out in court. For example in your state of NY, you can't be carrying around a rifle larger than a .22 rimfire (muzzleloaders excepted) in areas where rifles are banned for hunting deer. You may not actually be hunting deer, but cited none-the-less. You can be cited for spotlighting if you are in a motor vehicle, using a spotlight and there is an uncased rifle or strung bow with you. Maybe you have the arms for the purpose of self defense and are just spotlighting to see what animals you have in your field on a given night. You aren't actually hunting, but have violating the law for hunting. These would be considered illegal hunting methods, hence poaching.

Well, yes, but that's evidence. You're not following the rules, that's what poaching is.

If you're legally hunting an animal that either doesn't have a season or is in season and you're doing it with legal implements in legal places then, well, just do it.

You don't have to go out of your way to make it really, super obvious that you're legal. Just be legal and don't worry about it.
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Old September 15, 2010, 02:45 PM   #15
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Well, yes, but that's evidence. You're not following the rules, that's what poaching is.
You keep using the word "evidence" as if it is interchangible with the word of "proof" and it is not.

Having illegal ammo is evidence as well. Evidence, in this case, is what helps the game warden or officer to come to a conclusion about what you are doing and decide if you are poaching or not. Evidence need not be proof. Your example was a good one, though your conclusion wasn't. Your illegal ammo was evidence and the game warden had to decide whether or not you were poaching. Apparently after your confrontation with him, he decided you were not.

The examples I gave were infractions for poaching for which you could be cited even if you weren't actually poaching. The concern of the thread was for doing legal hunting and being saddled with a poaching citation when not actually poaching. In New York, apparently, you can be saddled with a poaching citation when not actually poaching, but because the rules of poaching are so inclusive.

So apparently you can't do a population count of your deer with a spotlight if you have a uncased rifle in your vehicle. You may not even be hunting but end up being cited for poaching. That is a bit unnerving.
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Old September 15, 2010, 03:09 PM   #16
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNS
So apparently you can't do a population count of your deer with a spotlight if you have a uncased rifle in your vehicle. You may not even be hunting but end up being cited for poaching. That is a bit unnerving.
Well, it may be theoretically possible but I've never heard of it happening. Of course, spotlighting deer with a rifle in your truck would be a little on the stupid side, IMO.

Anyway, the point is, the OP is being a bit paranoid. I hunt woodchucks with range finders and rifles capable of killing deer at a pretty great distance. The animals I hunt are essentially in the same habitat that you'd find deer to shoot with a rifle. In fact, I have MANY times shot at woodchucks while there were deer within a couple hundred yards of them.

Mr GameWarden could, in theory, take any of those things as "evidence" that I'm poaching..... but he's not going to.

Everybody knows what woodchuck hunters do. Everybody knows what coyote hunters do. If you're hunting coyote and you aren't dragging a dead dear through the field then Mr GameWarden is not going to waste his time trying to make a case against you.

The very premise is a bit silly. How are you supposed to prove that you are in fact hunting whatever you are hunting and NOT "poaching" whatever it is that Mr Gamewarden decides that you're poaching? You can't and he can't and he's not going to try.
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Old September 16, 2010, 06:21 AM   #17
Brit
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Game wardens, have normally lots of stupid poachers out there to worry about iffy court appearances. Plus quite the dangerous job that.
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Old October 5, 2010, 01:47 AM   #18
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Your best bet would be to call the sheriff's office in the area that you will be hunting and let them know your going to be out in this particular area hunting with permission at night. Give them your exact location, name, phone number, etc. I'm a police officer and I still do this when I'm out hog hunting or whatever at night. People tend to call the police when they hear gun shots at night and with good reason. No, your not doing anything wrong and no, you won't get in trouble if the police show up. It just shows some common courtesy to the police letting them know what your doing and keeps the police from having to waste there time on a call when they could be answering another call.
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Old October 5, 2010, 05:28 PM   #19
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why would the game warden be wandering around on private property at night? On my property that would be tresspassing. Law enforcement is no more alowed to violate private property than anyone else
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Old October 5, 2010, 07:38 PM   #20
clemsonbloz
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Here in SC,, if you are shooting crap at night,, you better not have anything beyond a rimfire, or bigger than #4 shot..

No artificial light devices..

As far as a gamewarden tresspassing?? I think they have some rights if they have a suspension of illegal activities..

What's to stop you from baiting deer(illegal in some counties here),, and the LEO not being able to walk up on you and bust you?? They monitor with planes here, and with some just cause, they will happily visit you.
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Old October 5, 2010, 09:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Have you contacted your local fish and game ?
They should be able to answer your questions.
+1000. When in doubt, make a call. My interactions with Game Wardens has found that they are very helpful and informative.
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Old October 6, 2010, 09:36 AM   #22
Uncle Buck
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Smoakingun Wrote:
Quote:
why would the game warden be wandering around on private property at night? On my property that would be tresspassing. Law enforcement is no more alowed to violate private property than anyone else
Please check your state game laws. The game you are hunting belongs to the state. Unless you have the permits to raise wild animals, you do not own the wild animals on your land.

If you are illegally taking game that belongs to the state, you can expect a visitor in the form of a game-warden or police officer.

How do you think they bust meth labs? They may not wander around on private property, but they will come on to private property and usually you have no right to stop them.

What about the tax assessor? He can come on to private property, just like a meter reader, telephone repair guy, etc... So long as it is in accordance with their official duties.

To the OP: I would call the game-warden and ask him. "Hey, my buddies and I like to coyote hunt, what do we have to do to make sure you don't think we are poaching?"
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Old October 6, 2010, 10:06 AM   #23
Brian Pfleuger
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How do you think they bust meth labs? They may not wander around on private property, but they will come on to private property and usually you have no right to stop them.

Actually, usually you DO have a right to stop them. None of them can just wander on your land to see what's up. If they suspect a crime or are responding to a call then you can't stop them but they can't just walk around on your land for no reason.

I know a couple of people who kick the sheriffs cars off their property when they set up radar traps. They can't just do whatever they want on private property.

Personally, I encourage their presence, since I figure every time Mr BG see a cop car at my place is one less time he's going to think about coming inside but that's me.
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Old October 6, 2010, 10:25 AM   #24
Double Naught Spy
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Quote:
why would the game warden be wandering around on private property at night? On my property that would be tresspassing. Law enforcement is no more alowed to violate private property than anyone else.
In following Uncle Buck's response, I believe you if you check, you will find that even in your home state of Florida, that game wardens can be on private property (not trespassing) if s/he reasonably believes a person to be poachng on the property or has contraband wildlife. It is that way in many states. Game Wardens actually have more powers than regular law enforcement.

As Uncle Buck indicated, it may be your property, but the wildlife isn't yours.
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Old October 7, 2010, 09:59 PM   #25
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game wardens carry the same authority as state police here in fl. and just as leo's can come onto my property with probable cause, so can a game warden. But driving by the property and seeing a flashlight in the woods does not fit the definition of probable cause. As to the meter reader and the phone guy(I am a phone guy ) they are by law entitled access to their property in accordance to the function of their job, they are not entitled access to the rest of the property. As to the tax assessor, if the gate is locked, he is required to schedule an appointment. As to meth labs, before they can bust one, a warrant is required to access the property.
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