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So, Just What Is Poaching?

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May 26, 2011

So, Just What Is Poaching?

By Dave Hurteau

I’ve been meaning to bring this up, as there’s been some disagreement on the subject in your comments here and on other blogs—which is no surprise really, when you consider that different states have different definitions. Some define it as taking game illegally, others more broadly as hunting or fishing illegally. The Michigan DNR actually offers both definitions: “Poacher - a person who hunts, traps, or fishes illegally. Poaching - the illegal taking of fish or wildlife.” Go figure.

Dictionary definitions likewise vary. In a hunting context, Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “poacher” as “one who kills or takes wild animals (as game or fish) illegally.” My Webster’s New World bound copy has “poaching” as, “to hunt or catch (game or fish) illegally….”

I favor the broader definition. A person should not have to be successful in his attempt to kill game illegally to be called a poacher. A jacklighter who misses three shots at a midnight buck should not be spared the label by the mere fact of his ineptitude. Besides, the higher threshold does not automatically denote a more egregious offense: the hunter who kills a hen pheasant by mistake or shoots a duck a minute past legal light is technically a poacher by either definition.

I say if you break a game law, you are poaching. Doesn’t necessarily make you evil incarnate, but you’re poaching nonetheless.

What say you?

Comments (39)

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from Ga hunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I would consider it to also be someone who hunts on without permission on private or posted property and someone who illegally takes game on purpose for example maybe killing a hen turkey

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from wjgrunde wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I hear what would be considered poaching in large quantities every year. During gun season for deer in southern Michigan there are a large amount of gun shots that occur outside of specified shooting hours. Some shots occur when I can barely see the end of my gun barrel. I am sure that this is common in other places too.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I agree with Ga hunter, I think if you're trespassing to hunt, you're performing an illegal action to go hunting in the first place. Poaching in my book. Though I think large tracts with absentee landowners or public land is a gray area.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Regarding hunting hours.. I think that's on the hunter. If it's a couple minutes past (frankly most of us aren't sure) and you're confident you can see, I dont' really have a problem with it. I've never done it as to me ours generally extend just long enough after sundown that under trees, I know I'm not seeing well enough to shoot when they roll around. Particularly in archery there's been times where I watched a deer approach as the light started to fail and by the time it got close enough for a shot, I couldn't tell which end was which while looking through a peep. I think the PA game commission has it right, but the spirit of the law is that's it's too dark to be either humane or safe. Probably a little more tempting when you're looking through a decent scope, but I haven't had that issue.

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from fliphuntr14 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I'm not sure the label is necessary in many cases but it is a word with a heavy connotative meaning, in that hunters have little respect for those perceived as poachers. People make mistakes such as hunting after legal hours for a short period of time or shooting a hen pheasant. I know not knowing such as this is not an excuse in the eyes of the law but I don't think it's ok to be lumping people who commit lesser crimes or crimes with less premeditated thought with people who knowingly commit hunting and fishing crimes, such as jacklighting or hunting or fishing out of season. I think calling everyone who ever committed a hunting and fishing crime a poacher is the same as calling everyone who commits a misdemeanor a felon. The word is not a legal term so it can be used to freely and it holds the emotional meaning with hunters that of a felon in society. I guess its all how you look at the word and how much weight you give it but personally I give poaching a heavy weight on someones character.

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from Walt Smith wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I would say its a person who hunts, traps, fishs and keeps game out of legal season or without a liscense and also those who hunt, trap, fish with a liscense who keep game without punching and attaching the legal tag or seal they did purchase. Like a fella told me yesterday, he caught a 18 inch smallmouth before season opened and kept it because it was on private property. I told him the river that runs through it isn't private property and as soon as his tires hit the road he's illegal as hell! Sorry to say but some people just don't care!

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from wgiles wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Poaching is the intentional illegal taking of wild game, not accidental. To be a poacher, you must flaunt the law, not just make a mistake. If you conveniently make too many mistakes, you could be a poacher. Some states do not enforce seasons or limits on privately held lakes, mostly farm ponds. You may or may not be a poacher in that case. It comes back to intent and whether the act was illegal.

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from buckhunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

While I agree there is a difference between poaching and breaking game laws it is such a broad subject it would be tough to define without writing a book.

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from Puffy wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I'll back up what wgiles had to say; it has to do with intent. Labeling someone a poacher for an honest mistake would be disproportionate.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Every profession has their local slang. As Conservation Officers we were no different. While talking about people a person that killed deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits or any animals out of season and with no regard for the law we call them a "poacher". All others that we caught exceeding the limits the first time, hunting without a license, hunting without permission, having a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle, shooting from a vehicle, hunting from the road etc. we called a "violator". They mean the same thing it just dosen't quite sound as harsh to be called a violator. Don't ask why we did it was just one of those things that was passed down through the years.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

i like how sarge puts it. even if someone just intends to poach an animal, they still deserve the label even if they don't succeed.

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from Dave Hurteau wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Excellent point, Sarge.
It's not that the violators aren't poaching, because they are by definition. But given the highly pejorative connotation of the term "poacher," it makes sense to be careful how you apply it.

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from Carney wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Poaching is similar to boiling eggs except you take them out of the shell first.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Everytime I had one of my officers standing in front of me I usually told him. It wasn't what you said , it was how you said it that got you in trouble. In this situation the same sort of goes here.

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I disagree that if you break a game-law you are poaching. Intent has a lot to do with it. If you KNOWINGLY break a Game-Law you are poaching. I understand ignorance is no excuse, but if my watch says i have a minute of shooting light left, and the warden's says it was over a minute ago, I'm not poaching. Sorry. Someone who intends to obey all the rules and laws and inadvertantly makes a mistake is not a poacher.

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from nuclear_fisher wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

To continue with what others are saying above about intent...I would like to add that it is becomingly increasingly easy to break the laws. In Indiana the fishing regs are 40 pages long and full of laws like "except from this county like to highway ..." Not to mention that Ive fished in 4 states this year.

I always try to double check the rules for what I'm fishing on the body of water im about to fish, but its getting to the point where you need to hire a lawyer to ride around with you.

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from rock rat wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Good thread.

Technically it might be any breaking of game laws which change drastically from state to state. Colloquially it's more as Sarge01 describes. Anti hunters are happy to misuse the expression as with Ted Nugent, trying to group him in with bear bile gatherers.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

In WV I never knew an Officer that didn't give some time. You guys are talking about shooting a minute or two too early or late. I can't imagine an officer and I know none of mine did get that extreme about shooting times. We prided ourselves as having something that alot of others did not, and that was common sense. The only time that would come into play is where there is another serious violation and the violator can't seem to keep his mouth shut and uses 4 letter words to describe the officer.

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from Blue Ox wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Ok, suppose you've lost your job and have no income. Say for some reason you don't qualify for unemployment.
Maybe you & yours are taking a vacation and find yourselves stuck way out in the back of beyond. Would it be wrong to fall back on your skills as a hunter/fisherman in order to feed your family?
I honestly wouldn't have a problem telling a judge "I did it to feed my family."
But that's just me.

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from jakenbake wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

If you go out with the purpose of violating a fish or game law, you're a poacher. Doesn't matter if you "succeed" or not. If you're out trying to violate the law but fail, you're just a crappy poacher.

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from ingebrigtsen wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Robin Hood was a poacher of the kings deers.. he fed the poor and starving. morality is relative.. but even he didn`t poach for profit..

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from arky_hunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

With todays times and economy getting worse every day its gonna get worse before it gets better. I have no problem with someone feeding their family but some do take it to extremes JMHO

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from Scott Jones wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

1 - Amen on the intent - an honest mistake means you violated a law. I've heard in Colorado if you kill an elk in violation of game laws and call the warden immediately the warden will take the elk and your tag but no fine.
2 - I'm about ready to call BS on "I did it to feed my family." I keep hearing people with a new pickup, a new ATV, a new rifle with $500 of glass talking about "I only shot nine deer to feed my family." Stupid life choices do not justify stealing from those of us trying to play by the rules.

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from crosbychief wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

The days of Robin Hood are long dead and gone...in most states deer licenses and doe permits are pretty inexpensive and easy to come by...seasons are long. Many times in my 29 year career as a conservation officer I heard people say something along the lines of, "Well, I wouldn't turn someone in for shootin' a deer and takin' it home to eat.." What they don't notice is what game wardens see all the time...when a person is hunting illegally, he is taking risky shots, often in darkness or poor light, is rubbernecking and listening for tires on gravel rather than paying attention to the shot...and very few people will risk taking the extra ten or 15 minutes to pursue a deer that is gut shot and runs to the far edge of the field...where it later dies, and is found by the farmer when he goes to plow the field.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

3kidsdad
I agree with your #2 post. In 35 years I ran into that situation probably 2 or 3 times and then I let the person keep the deer. You are right, new truck, rifle, cooler of beer , cash in pocket to pay a large fine and then tell me that he had to do it to feed his family. BS. You are right. I can quote "what ifs" all day long, but I didn't see them and I am supposed to be in one of the poorer regions of the country or at least that is how people and the media portray us here in the mountains of WV. The real reason is getting your priorities in order. Feed your family first and then get all of your fancy "toys". In our area here it is almost impossible not to get welfare and a free medical insurance card. Most of them have it better than the working man. I may put it bluntly but I call them like I see them.
As far as not knowing the law or understanding the law, I go back to an earlier post MAKE THE CALL TO THE CONSERVATION OFFICER AND GET THE RIGHT ANSWER.

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from 35wailin wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I think that if you INTENTIONALLY violate fish and game laws which could include trespassing/equipment violations, then you are a poacher. Many of us have unintentionally violated various laws, whether it be lack of knowledge regarding new or obscure laws, etc., but would never willingly violate them.

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from Joe Derringer wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Shooting hours is a very gray area. As far as a couple mins before or after shooting time. It is hard to be exact unless you a gps with sunrise and sunset setting for your exact location. Plus who alms watches are exactly the same except for a gps again or a newer cell phone. I mean my clock may say 5:30 while yours may say 5:28. Who is really right in that situation. I can see like ten min before or after is really startingto push it. Far as poaching I agree with no having to be successful at your poaching attempt to be labeled a poacher.

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from REM7400 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I have been hunting since I was a little kid. My Dad started me and I've hunted just about everything there's a season for. But duck hunting scares me. Dad was never into waterfowl and when I look through that regulation book with all the kinds of ducks and definitions of "cover", wow. Three of these and two of those but never one of the other ones. Oh, brother. And here in WI the rules say it's illegal to have a spotlight with intent to use, including headlights if you have a gun in the vehicle. Intent to use?!!

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from condoski wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

16-years ago my son and I where finishing up a Friday evening of Trout fishing on public water. I was flipping floating Rapalas tight to the bank across the creek where the fast water meets the channel. Darned if I didn't pull in not one, but two, largemouth bass, both well over 20". Bass season started the next day, in 11-hours. He begged me to keep them. It was all but dark, we could have done that, except I told him, "We are not game law violators, the bass go back in the water". He's 26 now and I'm proud to know he understands not only the law, but a sportsman's obligation to do what is right.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Intent matters. Breaking any G&F law isn't necessarily poaching.

Consider for example:

You're fishing in a northern lake with, say, varying bag limits. You've taken your keep of one species and are going for another, but catch another of the one you've limited out on the former. It swallowed the hook and it will die. You throw it back (waste of game meat and a G&F violation in many states) or you keep it (possessing fish in excess of limits, another G&F violation).

You're hunting for mule deer in Arizona in a location where mules and white-tails both thrive. In AZ, unless you hunt with a muzzleloader, you must pick a species; that's the only kind of deer you can shoot. You spot a 8 point rack buck with no bifurcating tines (all tines off the main beam) in mottled sunlight in modest cover. You shoot it reasonably assuming it's a w/t but discover it's a weird muley.

In some cases it depends I think on how you handle it. If you shoot the wrong deer, reporting it makes you not poacher. Covering it up, leaving it dead in the field, or taking it home makes you a poacher.

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from ableskeever wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

In addition to comments above, I consider it stealing and intentionally going outside the rules set in place.

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from Pacific Hunter wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

while visiting with a game warden over lunch one day the conversation of honest mistakes came up and he told me what he tells all his hunter education students."If you spend time in the woods you are eventually going to make a mistake, the true sportsman takes responsibility for his actions and the poacher tries to get away with it and not tell anyone." The term poacher is a label for those who do not live up to the ethics standards possessed by 99% of hunter and fisherman today, whether or not they are successful in taking what they are after.

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from ray cummings wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Sarge01 sounds like my kind of guy but I take excepion with his advise to "ask a warden". Here in Michigan you can`t talk to a warden unless you see him in he woods. You can`t call one. Even he DNR website is no help. When asked to define "hunting over bait" I was told "That is up to the individual officer".When they can`t even define right from wrong, how can I?
Sarge01- If you would like to respond personally, my email is rgsporting@hotmail.com

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

ray cummings
Here in WV the Natural Resource Police are required to have a listed telephone number. Most counties only have 1 or 2 officers and no office. They work out of their home and take all of their calls there. It is a little bit of a burden because their wife usually becomes their secretary and dosen't get paid for it. It takes a special lady to answer questions and take abuse on the phone and not get too bent out of shape. We pride ourselves in the public getting in touch with our officers 24/7. I think that 007 will verify what I am telling you. I have been retired almost 5 years and still get calls at my house. I refer them to one of the officers here in the county. I could get blunt but they need help and I still feel like I can do my part. Also if you ask an Officer the definition of a law I guarentee you will get an answer.

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from Whackdaddy wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Sarge's first post hit the nail on the head for me. But big picture, I suppose we shouldn't be so sensitive to the label. If we're not poachers/violators ourselves, who cares how anybody defines a poacher? How many times does a guy have to steal off you before you call him a thief?

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from dtbc333 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

For the most part I agree with the author. I really don't think accidentally shooting a hen pheasant is poaching, unless you "accidentally" shoot a hen often. I have had it happen to me a couple of times, but it was certainly unintentional, and I would find it more of an abuse to leave it there to rot. Private land can be another issue when it comes to fishing. I have access to a private lake, where really there are no limits on what can be kept, but we actually keep lower numbers than the state limits, often none at all. Why? Well because like most anglers, we like to keep our waters healthy and ensure good fishing for years to come. I'm not sure how we would be poaching if we did keep them, though. I'm also honestly not sure if state possession limits would take effect as soon as we left the property the lake was on. (not that it would really matter much as we only keep crappie,perch and catfish out of there when we do keep any)

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I am surprised to find that Mr. Webster did not have a very youthful picture of myself defining "Poacher". Back then we just went hunting, for whatever showed up be it ducks, deer, squirrel, rabbit, turkey or quail. Tresspassing was not an issue (with the law or landowner) and we did observe seasons. Legal shooting time was from whenever you could see until you couldn't.
When I became obsessed with waterfowl in later years, I began to pay more attention to little things like that. I think the thing that grinds my ax the worst is opening day of duck season on public ground when you have ducks in the decoys and more working, some goob opens up ten minutes early. Everybody has a cell phone these days that will tell you what time it is, so in my opinion, there is no excuse for it and the violators should be cited, everytime.

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from stickngar21 wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Respect your state's wildlife agency. Not only that but other hunters and fishermen as well. How hard is it to follow the simple rules they have for a reason to help us have a better experience in the outdoors? Do the right thing, and it won't kill you to keep that finger from pullin the trigger after legal shooting light just to get your limit. It helps conserve the game and makes the next time you go into the woods or on the water that much better.

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from Woods Walker wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I have found that it is always interesting to hear poachers talk about themselves. I had a guy tell me a while back that he was upset with his local warden for telling him he was a poacher after he shot two does illegally last spring. His rationale for his actions was that the does did not have fawns so they should be eliminated from the herd to make room for those that were in the breeding pool. (He never did answer my question as to how he knew before shooting them that they did not have any fawns). He told me that he was "just doing the DNR's job in culling those deer", allegedly so there would be more resources for the breeding deer. He felt a poacher was someone who shot a doe with fawns or a doe during the winter when you can not tell if they are carrying fawns. I am sure he would say being a poacher is a matter of perspective...HIS perspective! ;)

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Every profession has their local slang. As Conservation Officers we were no different. While talking about people a person that killed deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits or any animals out of season and with no regard for the law we call them a "poacher". All others that we caught exceeding the limits the first time, hunting without a license, hunting without permission, having a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle, shooting from a vehicle, hunting from the road etc. we called a "violator". They mean the same thing it just dosen't quite sound as harsh to be called a violator. Don't ask why we did it was just one of those things that was passed down through the years.

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from wjgrunde wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I hear what would be considered poaching in large quantities every year. During gun season for deer in southern Michigan there are a large amount of gun shots that occur outside of specified shooting hours. Some shots occur when I can barely see the end of my gun barrel. I am sure that this is common in other places too.

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from wgiles wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Poaching is the intentional illegal taking of wild game, not accidental. To be a poacher, you must flaunt the law, not just make a mistake. If you conveniently make too many mistakes, you could be a poacher. Some states do not enforce seasons or limits on privately held lakes, mostly farm ponds. You may or may not be a poacher in that case. It comes back to intent and whether the act was illegal.

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from steve182 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I disagree that if you break a game-law you are poaching. Intent has a lot to do with it. If you KNOWINGLY break a Game-Law you are poaching. I understand ignorance is no excuse, but if my watch says i have a minute of shooting light left, and the warden's says it was over a minute ago, I'm not poaching. Sorry. Someone who intends to obey all the rules and laws and inadvertantly makes a mistake is not a poacher.

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from Dave Hurteau wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Excellent point, Sarge.
It's not that the violators aren't poaching, because they are by definition. But given the highly pejorative connotation of the term "poacher," it makes sense to be careful how you apply it.

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from nuclear_fisher wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

To continue with what others are saying above about intent...I would like to add that it is becomingly increasingly easy to break the laws. In Indiana the fishing regs are 40 pages long and full of laws like "except from this county like to highway ..." Not to mention that Ive fished in 4 states this year.

I always try to double check the rules for what I'm fishing on the body of water im about to fish, but its getting to the point where you need to hire a lawyer to ride around with you.

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from Scott Jones wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

1 - Amen on the intent - an honest mistake means you violated a law. I've heard in Colorado if you kill an elk in violation of game laws and call the warden immediately the warden will take the elk and your tag but no fine.
2 - I'm about ready to call BS on "I did it to feed my family." I keep hearing people with a new pickup, a new ATV, a new rifle with $500 of glass talking about "I only shot nine deer to feed my family." Stupid life choices do not justify stealing from those of us trying to play by the rules.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

3kidsdad
I agree with your #2 post. In 35 years I ran into that situation probably 2 or 3 times and then I let the person keep the deer. You are right, new truck, rifle, cooler of beer , cash in pocket to pay a large fine and then tell me that he had to do it to feed his family. BS. You are right. I can quote "what ifs" all day long, but I didn't see them and I am supposed to be in one of the poorer regions of the country or at least that is how people and the media portray us here in the mountains of WV. The real reason is getting your priorities in order. Feed your family first and then get all of your fancy "toys". In our area here it is almost impossible not to get welfare and a free medical insurance card. Most of them have it better than the working man. I may put it bluntly but I call them like I see them.
As far as not knowing the law or understanding the law, I go back to an earlier post MAKE THE CALL TO THE CONSERVATION OFFICER AND GET THE RIGHT ANSWER.

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from fliphuntr14 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I'm not sure the label is necessary in many cases but it is a word with a heavy connotative meaning, in that hunters have little respect for those perceived as poachers. People make mistakes such as hunting after legal hours for a short period of time or shooting a hen pheasant. I know not knowing such as this is not an excuse in the eyes of the law but I don't think it's ok to be lumping people who commit lesser crimes or crimes with less premeditated thought with people who knowingly commit hunting and fishing crimes, such as jacklighting or hunting or fishing out of season. I think calling everyone who ever committed a hunting and fishing crime a poacher is the same as calling everyone who commits a misdemeanor a felon. The word is not a legal term so it can be used to freely and it holds the emotional meaning with hunters that of a felon in society. I guess its all how you look at the word and how much weight you give it but personally I give poaching a heavy weight on someones character.

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from Walt Smith wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I would say its a person who hunts, traps, fishs and keeps game out of legal season or without a liscense and also those who hunt, trap, fish with a liscense who keep game without punching and attaching the legal tag or seal they did purchase. Like a fella told me yesterday, he caught a 18 inch smallmouth before season opened and kept it because it was on private property. I told him the river that runs through it isn't private property and as soon as his tires hit the road he's illegal as hell! Sorry to say but some people just don't care!

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from Puffy wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I'll back up what wgiles had to say; it has to do with intent. Labeling someone a poacher for an honest mistake would be disproportionate.

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from Carney wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Poaching is similar to boiling eggs except you take them out of the shell first.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

In WV I never knew an Officer that didn't give some time. You guys are talking about shooting a minute or two too early or late. I can't imagine an officer and I know none of mine did get that extreme about shooting times. We prided ourselves as having something that alot of others did not, and that was common sense. The only time that would come into play is where there is another serious violation and the violator can't seem to keep his mouth shut and uses 4 letter words to describe the officer.

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from Blue Ox wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Ok, suppose you've lost your job and have no income. Say for some reason you don't qualify for unemployment.
Maybe you & yours are taking a vacation and find yourselves stuck way out in the back of beyond. Would it be wrong to fall back on your skills as a hunter/fisherman in order to feed your family?
I honestly wouldn't have a problem telling a judge "I did it to feed my family."
But that's just me.

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from ingebrigtsen wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Robin Hood was a poacher of the kings deers.. he fed the poor and starving. morality is relative.. but even he didn`t poach for profit..

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from crosbychief wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

The days of Robin Hood are long dead and gone...in most states deer licenses and doe permits are pretty inexpensive and easy to come by...seasons are long. Many times in my 29 year career as a conservation officer I heard people say something along the lines of, "Well, I wouldn't turn someone in for shootin' a deer and takin' it home to eat.." What they don't notice is what game wardens see all the time...when a person is hunting illegally, he is taking risky shots, often in darkness or poor light, is rubbernecking and listening for tires on gravel rather than paying attention to the shot...and very few people will risk taking the extra ten or 15 minutes to pursue a deer that is gut shot and runs to the far edge of the field...where it later dies, and is found by the farmer when he goes to plow the field.

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from Pacific Hunter wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

while visiting with a game warden over lunch one day the conversation of honest mistakes came up and he told me what he tells all his hunter education students."If you spend time in the woods you are eventually going to make a mistake, the true sportsman takes responsibility for his actions and the poacher tries to get away with it and not tell anyone." The term poacher is a label for those who do not live up to the ethics standards possessed by 99% of hunter and fisherman today, whether or not they are successful in taking what they are after.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

ray cummings
Here in WV the Natural Resource Police are required to have a listed telephone number. Most counties only have 1 or 2 officers and no office. They work out of their home and take all of their calls there. It is a little bit of a burden because their wife usually becomes their secretary and dosen't get paid for it. It takes a special lady to answer questions and take abuse on the phone and not get too bent out of shape. We pride ourselves in the public getting in touch with our officers 24/7. I think that 007 will verify what I am telling you. I have been retired almost 5 years and still get calls at my house. I refer them to one of the officers here in the county. I could get blunt but they need help and I still feel like I can do my part. Also if you ask an Officer the definition of a law I guarentee you will get an answer.

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from Ga hunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I would consider it to also be someone who hunts on without permission on private or posted property and someone who illegally takes game on purpose for example maybe killing a hen turkey

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from buckhunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

While I agree there is a difference between poaching and breaking game laws it is such a broad subject it would be tough to define without writing a book.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

i like how sarge puts it. even if someone just intends to poach an animal, they still deserve the label even if they don't succeed.

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from rock rat wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Good thread.

Technically it might be any breaking of game laws which change drastically from state to state. Colloquially it's more as Sarge01 describes. Anti hunters are happy to misuse the expression as with Ted Nugent, trying to group him in with bear bile gatherers.

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from jakenbake wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

If you go out with the purpose of violating a fish or game law, you're a poacher. Doesn't matter if you "succeed" or not. If you're out trying to violate the law but fail, you're just a crappy poacher.

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from 35wailin wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I think that if you INTENTIONALLY violate fish and game laws which could include trespassing/equipment violations, then you are a poacher. Many of us have unintentionally violated various laws, whether it be lack of knowledge regarding new or obscure laws, etc., but would never willingly violate them.

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from REM7400 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

I have been hunting since I was a little kid. My Dad started me and I've hunted just about everything there's a season for. But duck hunting scares me. Dad was never into waterfowl and when I look through that regulation book with all the kinds of ducks and definitions of "cover", wow. Three of these and two of those but never one of the other ones. Oh, brother. And here in WI the rules say it's illegal to have a spotlight with intent to use, including headlights if you have a gun in the vehicle. Intent to use?!!

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from condoski wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

16-years ago my son and I where finishing up a Friday evening of Trout fishing on public water. I was flipping floating Rapalas tight to the bank across the creek where the fast water meets the channel. Darned if I didn't pull in not one, but two, largemouth bass, both well over 20". Bass season started the next day, in 11-hours. He begged me to keep them. It was all but dark, we could have done that, except I told him, "We are not game law violators, the bass go back in the water". He's 26 now and I'm proud to know he understands not only the law, but a sportsman's obligation to do what is right.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Intent matters. Breaking any G&F law isn't necessarily poaching.

Consider for example:

You're fishing in a northern lake with, say, varying bag limits. You've taken your keep of one species and are going for another, but catch another of the one you've limited out on the former. It swallowed the hook and it will die. You throw it back (waste of game meat and a G&F violation in many states) or you keep it (possessing fish in excess of limits, another G&F violation).

You're hunting for mule deer in Arizona in a location where mules and white-tails both thrive. In AZ, unless you hunt with a muzzleloader, you must pick a species; that's the only kind of deer you can shoot. You spot a 8 point rack buck with no bifurcating tines (all tines off the main beam) in mottled sunlight in modest cover. You shoot it reasonably assuming it's a w/t but discover it's a weird muley.

In some cases it depends I think on how you handle it. If you shoot the wrong deer, reporting it makes you not poacher. Covering it up, leaving it dead in the field, or taking it home makes you a poacher.

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from dtbc333 wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

For the most part I agree with the author. I really don't think accidentally shooting a hen pheasant is poaching, unless you "accidentally" shoot a hen often. I have had it happen to me a couple of times, but it was certainly unintentional, and I would find it more of an abuse to leave it there to rot. Private land can be another issue when it comes to fishing. I have access to a private lake, where really there are no limits on what can be kept, but we actually keep lower numbers than the state limits, often none at all. Why? Well because like most anglers, we like to keep our waters healthy and ensure good fishing for years to come. I'm not sure how we would be poaching if we did keep them, though. I'm also honestly not sure if state possession limits would take effect as soon as we left the property the lake was on. (not that it would really matter much as we only keep crappie,perch and catfish out of there when we do keep any)

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from stickngar21 wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Respect your state's wildlife agency. Not only that but other hunters and fishermen as well. How hard is it to follow the simple rules they have for a reason to help us have a better experience in the outdoors? Do the right thing, and it won't kill you to keep that finger from pullin the trigger after legal shooting light just to get your limit. It helps conserve the game and makes the next time you go into the woods or on the water that much better.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I agree with Ga hunter, I think if you're trespassing to hunt, you're performing an illegal action to go hunting in the first place. Poaching in my book. Though I think large tracts with absentee landowners or public land is a gray area.

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from jcarlin wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Regarding hunting hours.. I think that's on the hunter. If it's a couple minutes past (frankly most of us aren't sure) and you're confident you can see, I dont' really have a problem with it. I've never done it as to me ours generally extend just long enough after sundown that under trees, I know I'm not seeing well enough to shoot when they roll around. Particularly in archery there's been times where I watched a deer approach as the light started to fail and by the time it got close enough for a shot, I couldn't tell which end was which while looking through a peep. I think the PA game commission has it right, but the spirit of the law is that's it's too dark to be either humane or safe. Probably a little more tempting when you're looking through a decent scope, but I haven't had that issue.

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from Sarge01 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Everytime I had one of my officers standing in front of me I usually told him. It wasn't what you said , it was how you said it that got you in trouble. In this situation the same sort of goes here.

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from arky_hunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

With todays times and economy getting worse every day its gonna get worse before it gets better. I have no problem with someone feeding their family but some do take it to extremes JMHO

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from Joe Derringer wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

Shooting hours is a very gray area. As far as a couple mins before or after shooting time. It is hard to be exact unless you a gps with sunrise and sunset setting for your exact location. Plus who alms watches are exactly the same except for a gps again or a newer cell phone. I mean my clock may say 5:30 while yours may say 5:28. Who is really right in that situation. I can see like ten min before or after is really startingto push it. Far as poaching I agree with no having to be successful at your poaching attempt to be labeled a poacher.

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from ableskeever wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

In addition to comments above, I consider it stealing and intentionally going outside the rules set in place.

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from ray cummings wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Sarge01 sounds like my kind of guy but I take excepion with his advise to "ask a warden". Here in Michigan you can`t talk to a warden unless you see him in he woods. You can`t call one. Even he DNR website is no help. When asked to define "hunting over bait" I was told "That is up to the individual officer".When they can`t even define right from wrong, how can I?
Sarge01- If you would like to respond personally, my email is rgsporting@hotmail.com

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from Whackdaddy wrote 2 years 46 weeks ago

Sarge's first post hit the nail on the head for me. But big picture, I suppose we shouldn't be so sensitive to the label. If we're not poachers/violators ourselves, who cares how anybody defines a poacher? How many times does a guy have to steal off you before you call him a thief?

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 45 weeks ago

I am surprised to find that Mr. Webster did not have a very youthful picture of myself defining "Poacher". Back then we just went hunting, for whatever showed up be it ducks, deer, squirrel, rabbit, turkey or quail. Tresspassing was not an issue (with the law or landowner) and we did observe seasons. Legal shooting time was from whenever you could see until you couldn't.
When I became obsessed with waterfowl in later years, I began to pay more attention to little things like that. I think the thing that grinds my ax the worst is opening day of duck season on public ground when you have ducks in the decoys and more working, some goob opens up ten minutes early. Everybody has a cell phone these days that will tell you what time it is, so in my opinion, there is no excuse for it and the violators should be cited, everytime.

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from Woods Walker wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I have found that it is always interesting to hear poachers talk about themselves. I had a guy tell me a while back that he was upset with his local warden for telling him he was a poacher after he shot two does illegally last spring. His rationale for his actions was that the does did not have fawns so they should be eliminated from the herd to make room for those that were in the breeding pool. (He never did answer my question as to how he knew before shooting them that they did not have any fawns). He told me that he was "just doing the DNR's job in culling those deer", allegedly so there would be more resources for the breeding deer. He felt a poacher was someone who shot a doe with fawns or a doe during the winter when you can not tell if they are carrying fawns. I am sure he would say being a poacher is a matter of perspective...HIS perspective! ;)

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