Different seasons have opened around the country, and the rest of the fall and winter seasons are just around the corner. Sadly, another crop of those pesky poachers will be rearing their ugly heads again this year. Until then, though, enjoy catching up on the plights of some of the poaching world's least intelligent members from this past spring and summer.
Part Deer, Part Robot—All Trouble For Poachers
Though not a particularly new addition to law enforcement's anti-poaching arsenal, Robo-Deer always makes for a good story.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that another pair of poachers have fallen prey to the oh-so-convincing robotic deer decoy, which quietly defends its much more alive cousins from illegal tactics. Gerald Michael Brown and Karen Jean Brown were in Sarasota County, Fla., when they fired on Robo-Deer in the dark of night, from their vehicle.
The couple has been charged with hunting deer out of season, discharging a weapon in public, taking wildlife on roads or right-of-way and trespassing. They never suspected that the deer they were firing on was fake, nor that there were officers waiting nearby for just such a mistake.
On the plus side, they're both saved the trouble of having to explain to their spouse how they managed to get arrested. Silver linings like that are important.
A Bird in the Hand...
Five men in Louisiana may have redefined the idea of getting caught red-handed—they were actually in the middle of cleaning their poached kill when officers arrived to investigate.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents received a tip claiming that people were cleaning freshly harvested birds and rabbits in their backyards last month in St. Charles Parish, La. The agents responded, and discovered Rico Hernandez, Yoan Hernandez-Casanova, Juan Munoz, Miguel Farradas and Yandry Almeida allegedly still cleaning their game.
Agents seized six whistling ducks and eight rabbits, all of which had been taken out of season. They also seized the three firearms that were believed to have been used to take the game.
The accused parties are facing charges that could result in hefty fines or jail time—but hey, maybe in the clink they'll have time to look up "subtlety" in the dictionary.
This is Not How You Prevent Forest Fires
I always like to include an international story in the "dumb poachers" lineup, because things tend to get a little wilder outside the friendly confines of the United States—and this one is no exception.
Six men were arrested in China over the summer on suspicion of poaching five black bears. The twist: Authorities believe that the bears were killed with explosives.
The alleged poachers, all in their 40s and 50s, were believed to be after the bears for their gallbladders and paws. Poison was initially suspected to be the poachers' weapon of choice, until a search turned up a homemade shotgun, 20 bullets and two homemade explosive devices.
Hunting bear is dangerous enough sports as is—do we really need to get into how having unreliable homemade explosives compounds the issue? Not to mention, it leaves a lot of room for damage to the environment. Smokey would not be impressed.
A Repeat, Repeat Offender
I don't know that the AmericanHunter.org dumb poacher archives have ever featured the same miscreant on two separate occasions, until now. Colton Lapp, congratulations on being the first.
You might remember the 19-year-old Lapp from the April 2012 story, or even from Dave Campbell's post. Lapp's appearance there was as an accessory—he didn't take the shot. But he had some of his own poaching charges to face, too, which is where things went awry. Lapp was found guilty of a past poaching charge in April 2011, and was hit with the accessory charge in December of the same year.
Then, according to the Casper Star-Tribune, he went out and poached five more deer between his Dec. 19 conviction and Dec. 28. Genius.
Though just 19, Lapp has gone on to become the first person in Wyoming to be found guilty of a full-fledged poaching felony. He ultimately agreed to plea agreement that bans him from hunting or fishing in Wyoming and 37 other states—for life. The sentencing recommendation is for a boot camp program for the first count and probation for the other two.
For his sake, hopefully he's finally learned a lesson. All signs point to no, though.
*To report suspected poaching in your area, check the NRA's list of poaching hotlines.