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Posted 11/03/15 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

While deer gun season doesn’t officially open until Friday, Nov. 6, that hasn’t stopped some people from deciding to shoot deer and other wildlife out of season in McKenzie County and elsewhere in western North Dakota.
According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, game wardens are actively investigating six poaching violations that occurred in McKenzie and Williams counties since mid-September, including the finding of a headless whitetail buck at Demick Lake on Sept. 10, a mule deer doe being shot and left on an approach at Tobacco Gardens along N.D. Highway 1806 on Sept. 23, a pronghorn buck being shot and left at the Demick Lake area on Oct. 16, the shooting of three mule deer does approximately eight miles north of Watford City on Oct. 17, the killing of a pronghorn buck and two does approximately five miles northeast of Watford City on Oct. 18, and the shooting of a 5x5 whitetail buck at Ochs Wildlife Management Area southwest of Williston on Oct. 17.
Words cannot begin to describe the person or persons who decided that it would just be fun to kill these animals out of season. They definitely are not hunters. Nor are they sportsmen.
Hunters and sportsmen follow state hunting laws. They take to the field for the enjoyment and the thrill of the hunt either by themselves or with a group of friends. They hunt for the meat from the animals that they take. Not all hunters are successful in harvesting a deer or other wildlife during hunting season. Nor does everyone who wants to hunt, get a license. The true hunter and sportsman realizes that fact. But, for those who take to the field legally, they understand that if they shoot an animal, it is their responsibility to recover that animal. A good hunter does not leave an animal wounded.
Poachers, on the other hand, are simply shooting animals for the sake of killing. They care little or nothing about the sport of hunting. They are opportunistic. If they see an animal close to a roadway, they shoot it and drive away. There is no sport. There is no challenge.
Poachers are slobs. What they do is disgusting and discredits the true sportsman and hunter. But more importantly, they are illegally killing wildlife out of season. They are killing and maiming wildlife that may, or may not, have been harvested during hunting season.
The poachers that were involved in these incidents in McKenzie and Williams counties need to be apprehended. And they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Obviously, with a limited number of game wardens in the field, the Game and Fish Department relies on the general public to be their eyes when it comes to reporting poaching or other game and fish violations. As such the North Dakota Game and Fish Department maintains an anonymous Report All Poachers (RAP) tip line at 800-472-2121. In addition, RAP is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any of these individuals.