Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Poachers Game

                                                                                                               by Jim Taylor

He has killed as many as  four bucks each season in Kansas where the season limit on bucks is one.  Yet he is able to tag each one of them with what might seem like legitimate tags.  Not only does he tag them, he often registers them.   He is so brazen that he walks into the local Southern Kansas  taxidermist  with his heads and boasts of his repeated successes as a  bowhunter.   He has been under suspicion for several years yet the Kansas Game and Fish officers have not been able to nab him.

Kansas tagging and registering rules(or lack of) makes it easy for  crooks to take advantage of the system.
Properly attached officially printed tag as shown on KDWPT web site
How has this poacher been able to dupe the enforcement officers for so long?   First off, some background on Kansas tagging rules. Kansas requires you complete your deer tag by writing the date of harvest, signing it and attaching  it to your buck. This must be done upon harvest and attached before you can legally move the buck from the harvest site.   The tag completion process renders the tag useless for additional buck kills.   Any hunter thinking about abusing the process knows he risks getting ticketed, fined and may loose his hunting privileges  if he fails to follow the rules and complete his tag immediately.   It keeps honest hunters honest.    

For most hunters that's it, we're happy,  a filled Kansas tag is a symbol of a successful bow season.   You're done because you can't get another tag.  Or can you?   In Kansas tags are issued via three methods.  Over the counter, via mail or online. The first two methods provide for the familiar Tyvek, officially printed, not easily duplicated deer tag found in most states.   The third method, and the one ripe for abuse,  is simply printed off from your home computer on your own regular 8 1/2" x 11" paper.

Now lets examine the process of our boasting poacher.   At  the moment he kills a buck  he promptly fills out his home printed paper tags  and attaches it to the animal.  Everything so far is legal and on the up and up, except for his criminal intentions.  The poacher now snickers under his breath that he has cleverly covered his butt and  can now freely load the deer in his truck and transport  it  without suspicion if he is stopped.    If it is a big racked buck  and he wants to boast  about it and show it off,  yet he wants to continue hunting what are his options?  The poacher has learned to take advantage of his proximity to surrounding states.  He simply buys tags in multiple states, in this case Missouri, Oklahoma or Arkansas, to tag his big racked  Kansas buck.   Once the tag switch-a-roo takes place he can now boast about his purported "Missouri big buck"  while the  poacher continues to freely hunt Kansas with  freshly printed deer tag copy number two. 
 
Kansas has worked hard to enable the licensing process to be easy and pain free for its hunters.  Being able to print my tags from the computer is convenient and fast.  I would hate to see this curtailed because of some schmuck  poacher who is gaming the system.    I understand that  no system is fool proof  but Kansas has left themselves needlessly vulnerable for abuse by poacher schmucks.  Some simple improvements can easily be implemented.  It would help if Kansas were to require  hunters to register their Kansas deer kills within a specified time frame.  For the life of me I don't know why that is not required   They have a voluntary system in place but it is not mandatory.   There is much to gain from increased tagging compliance as well as biological data collection by making registration  mandatory.    With the prevalence of cell phones and easy access to the internet there is no excuse not to implement this immediately.   

The downfall of these poachers is that they think they are smarter than the system.  They think the game wardens are clueless to their scheme.  On a more selfish level their antics and schemes hurt the honest hunters.  I would like the opportunity for a second  Kansas buck too, but as long as these crooks keep poaching that will never happen.  Kansas KDWPT web sites estimate that  illegal poaching may account for as many legal deer taken.

As someone who is proud of our Arkansas bowhunting fraternity in my home state I am additionally irritated that in this particular case the suspect poacher/criminal is an Arkansan.  Well I really shouldn't be bothered, with his multi-state poaching scheme and violation of the federal LACEY act (interstate transportation of illegally taken wildlife)  it is likely our poacher could soon become a Kansas citizen.....in the famous Leavenworth prison.