New Outdoor Models Episode Gets Us Deer Poachers, Bait Thieves


I really enjoy receiving comments from one of my 29 semi-regular readers. And the comments I’ve received recently are, with the exception of the Wildcats column, overwhelmingly in favor of dumber outdoor scam stories.

So, since I try to stay at the forefront of journalistic excellence, here are other models for laughs. Oh, and the names of the culprits have been changed to avoid further embarrassment.

Dear, oh deer

Ton Millbower lives in Mexico City, Oswego County. And he must certainly appreciate the taste of venison. He seems to have seen a deer grazing in a field, so he shot it down.

However, there were only a few issues related to his activities. He was then sitting in his car. He was arrested on a public road. The deer was a doe and he did not have a doe license. The car (and he) were within 500 feet of several houses at the time. And, one of those owners was standing in his front yard looking at this deer when he suddenly fell dead.

Environmental protection officers who investigated the incident ended up writing to him for a number of serious violations. They also accused his neighbor of having loaned him a doe license for the deer, which did not lead to good neighborly relations. Then the officers left.

However, that same day, at around 6 p.m., another ECO received an anonymous report that there were two more deer at the Millbower Residence. So the two ECOs went to Millbower’s, saw a deer hanging in an open shed and checked it out.

It seemed legal. However, there was a bloody rope hanging next to the buck that appeared to have held another deer.

The two officers then went to a nearby restaurant where Millbower worked and asked him about the two deer. He remained adamant. There was only one deer, so stop harassing him.

Officers returned to his home and asked his wife if there were any other deer. She said no, then opened the door and said, “look for yourself”.

They did so and quickly observed the muzzle of a dead deer sticking out from under a bed. Millbower received further quotes. Much more.

An easy case for this officer

Not all stupid hunters are looking for deer. No, there are also more than a few stupid small game hunters.

Shortly after releasing a group of pheasants in the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area, an ECO was parked in his clearly marked state vehicle along a paved road, watching hunters hunting some of these birds.

Then he watched a pheasant come out of the tall grass and start pecking at the shorter grass just off the road (and near the officer’s vehicle).

Another car pulled up right next to this pheasant. Next, the officer saw a shotgun barrel protruding from the driver’s window. The driver shot the unsuspecting pheasant, then looked up to see the officer standing a few feet away from him. Yes, he was really surprised.

No more sour grapes

This next tale is a bit old, but since it’s about a good friend who I believe is now retired, I’m going to use it anyway.

If you want to break the laws of the game, it may be a good idea not to annoy your neighbor. Jeff Lamphier, our (then) local conservation officer in northern Yates County, once got a call. The caller wanted to know if it was legal to bait the deer.

It appears that the appellant saw his neighbor suddenly display his property. And when this neighbor walked along the property, he could see heaps of grapes and salt under a tree standing on this guy’s property.

Well, of course Jeff was interested. He visited the complainant’s property and hiked the old fashioned way. He observed exactly what the complainant had described. A tree, heaps of grapes and heaps of salt. But archery season was not open, so Jeff quietly left the zone.

Jeff returned on the first Saturday of archery season and observed a bow hunter in the suspected tree stand. As he approached, the hunter told the officer that he had just seen the bait piles that morning, having arrived at the deer stand well before dawn.

Jeff then asked if he had any other deer stalls on this property, and the hunter replied that there were two more, and his brother was hunting in one of them.

Jeff asked this guy to come with him while they went to talk with the brother. All the way to the other stand, he kept noticing more piles of grapes. And when they got to the other stand of trees, Jeff noticed that that stand was surrounded by piles of wheat and dumplings of salt.

Case closed with arrest. Two arrests, that is to say.

The poacher in the spotlight

The efforts of some people to kill a deer are simply staggering.

Two officers, patrolling along a shallow river after receiving advice that a hunter would park on one side of that creek, ford and hunt deer over a pile of bait on the other side, fell on a parked vehicle suspiciously.

So they drove across that stream, walked two miles, and finally approached the bait pile with a cozy little hut built nearby. They observed a pair of waders and footprints leading directly to the door of this small building.

They sat within 10 meters of this hut for the next two hours until well after sunset. They wanted to see if any searchlights were being used, but did not see any while they were watching. Finally, they approached the hut and opened the door.

The poacher was seated inside on a lawn chair. He was holding a loaded .308 rifle. He was also holding a night vision scope. There was a portable projector on the floor next to his chair.

That’s well over $ 1,500 worth of equipment just to poach a deer illegally. And he lost everything in the fines and confiscations he later imposed in court. Oh, and one more thing. This guy had been apprehended three years earlier for, as you may have guessed by now, deer hijacking.

Impaired judgment

If you’re going to catch a whole bunch of undersized striped bass when the scratch-catching season is over, then you probably shouldn’t be drinking a lot of adult drinks, right?

Well that’s exactly what a yahoo did. Sixteen short stripers in his cooler, and he’s heading back to his dock in his beloved 24ft fishing boat when this water turkey falls asleep at the helm.

Not too bright, eh? And when her boat finally came to rest about 40 feet from a public swimming beach, local cops didn’t have to worry about her leaving the scene of the crash.

A day off pays off

An environmental conservation officer rarely has a day off when he can go to that favorite river and relax while enjoying a few hours of fishing.

An ECO tried it out recently. He wore regular clothes and drove his own van at the time. But two potential poachers stopped in the same fishing hole, waded and started fishing right next to him in the very productive hole.

They were rough, so he went upstream to fish in less productive waters.

While he was fishing he noticed that the two “anglers” were catching a large number of trout. Then he observed one of them bring two spars to their vehicle, put them in the trunk and come back with two empty spars. And then these two yahoos continued to catch a lot of fish.

Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. He returned to their location and asked them how they were doing. A guy with a slime of too many fish hanging from his belt told the CEO it wasn’t his @% $ #% business how they were doing.

The officer then informed them of exactly who and what he was, and that was most definitely his business, and he began to turn their good day of fishing into the worst day of their lives.

Later in court, one of the defendants told the judge he had been tricked into breaking the law. “Your honor, this game ranger should have told us who he was,” he said. “It was pretty sneaky driving in a battered old pickup truck and not wearing his uniform. At the very least, he should have told us about the limit.”

But the judge was not impressed, and he dropped his hammer on these two morons.

He fell for the bait, literally

Selling baitfish to fishermen is big business. And finding an adequate supply of live minnows can be difficult, I guess.

Perhaps this is why, around midnight on a spring eve, a wise man backed up his bait truck to the bait pond of another dealer in a rural area and loaded up with live minnows. He also made his getaway clean.

The owner of the bait pond noticed the fresh tire tracks and was more than a mite annoyed by his loss to this unknown turkey. And something told him the guy would be back soon for another load.

So he took a backhoe and dug the bank of the pond. Then, using a support system of string and short stakes, he covered the excavation and made the newly enlarged pond look like a grassy (and very sturdy) lawn.

The next morning he arrived at his bait ponds to observe a pickup truck with a container of live bait in the back. It was about two-thirds of the way into (or under) his pond. Only the front part was still high and dry.

He wanted to close the deal, so he took his tractor and pushed the truck to the bottom of the pond. Then he called the cops.

Their investigation revealed that the owner of the truck, a rival bait dealer, had reported the theft of his truck at 5 a.m. that day. And they took the owner to where the truck had now become a fishing structure.

When the owner of the truck saw that it was completely in the pond and the engine was now submerged, it went ballistic. He raved and raved that he couldn’t have fallen on his own. After all, he had applied the parking brake to make sure he wouldn’t roll any further when he left it around midnight.

The cops weren’t amused. Neither can the judge.

But I have it in good authority that the owner of the bait pond was smiling from ear to ear.

Len Lisenbee is the outside columnist for the Daily Messenger. Contact him at [email protected]


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