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Poaching: Like Father Like Son

Posted by bob on Mar 4, 2012in Articles

Published Mascaret, Moncton, N.B.

The legal hunting season is over but hunting is not. Whether you reside in Cape Tormentine, Coles Island or Haute Aboujagane, the probability exists that if you own a gun, a significant weapon, your cooler either is, or could be filled with venison, bear, and moose in the near future. 

For many in the know, it is just a matter of time. According to a variety of knowledgeable sources, the probability of poachers being successful increases if you own a significant piece of property in, on or near a woodlot or boggy land. 

I was impressed in 2004 by the presence in the back woods of Aboujagane of DNR officers, both during daylight and twilight hours. The Irving clear cuts, woodlots and lakes tucked away between highway 15 and 16 and the Trans Canada Highway near Scoudouc abound with the type of creature I enjoy photographing in the fall of the year. 

A four hundred and fifty pound black bear is not uncommon if you know where to sit and patiently wait. It’s not surprising when a 26 point Bull Moose, as ugly as he may be, saunters by a few feet from you and ignores your presence. This magnificent beast stops for a moment, surveys his surroundings, shakes his head in disbelief and continues toward his favorite lily pond now exposed by the unscrupulous clear cutting that has go on over the winter. 

If jogging is your pastime, you may enjoy and evening jog along a logging road with a Coyote or two. Every once in a while, a fox will pop in, take a look and scamper off. If you sit patiently in a clearing, you will see the 14 points of a white tail buck before the big fellow actually comes into view. 

A walk along these unused logging roads guarantees you an encounter with the timid porcupine as he waddles toward his favorite tree for his usual dinner of bark or juicy leaves. If you are lucky, he may scamper up a tree and remain clinging there for dear life, at eye level, as you carry on a conversation with him, reassuring him that you are the least of his problems. 

I have enjoyed more wondrous morning, evening and daylong sessions with Gods creatures than I can remember, but nothing breaks my heart more then when I come across a carcass, a victim of irresponsible, unchecked, ruthless killers better known as “the poacher”. It goes without saying that the penalties for illegal hunting are significant. Our problem however, is that our Government fails to provide the necessary resources or the manpower required to enforce the laws protecting nature and her creatures. 

Consequently, poachers are willing to risk it all. Apparently the potential of losing their truck, their weapon, jail time, and maybe even their home, when caught, doesn’t concern them. They are bold, they are blatant, they are ruthless, they are cunning and they are killers. 

I have encountered them in the woods. They are braggarts and are more than willing to share locations, sizes, types of species, patterns of behavior and respond to any question I might have relative to where I can get up close and personal for that once in a lifetime shot. Once that information is provided, it never ceases to amaze me how quick they are to quip, “Get your shot now. I have my eye on him and I am going to take him down fairly soon”. 

Let it be known that I have no problem with legal hunting. I believe that hunting has been with us since the beginning of man. Man for his part is a hunter. He has been since the earliest times, his role has always been to provide for his family. I have no intention of preaching a sermon on gun control, gun registration or removal of any gun from the hands of any man or woman. Frankly, I believe it is our right and our duty to have and to own a weapon. However, it is also incumbent upon us to be responsible, be trained, and be licensed and to be held accountable for the improper use of that weapon. 

There used to be an assumption that poachers were those who had to feed their family in a time were lean. That time no longer exists. The cost of licenses and weapons, cost of ammunition, the cost of a vehicle to transport the kill, all overshadow the need to provide for one’s family. Poachers are individuals who have complete disregard for the laws of nature and probably all laws in general. Most of the poachers I have met learned their irresponsible habit from their fathers, uncles, grandfathers and even some from their great grandfathers. For many it is a game. It is a game of pushing the envelope as far as possible without getting caught. It is not a game of outwitting the witty creature, because with baiting, tree stands and dogs, ATV’s, GPS units and unlimited access these days to once treasured, secluded locations the animals don’t stand a chance. 

Society and civilization are encroaching upon our wildlife. Clear cutting has opened vast acres of forest land and now, when new growth begins to appears, bears, deer and moose become the casualties of the clear cut. My stomach turns when I hear one of my Aboujagane poachers brag about the fact that he knows where the 26 point Bull Moose is and the area that he frequents. Even though it is long after the hunting season, his intentions are to jack it some night, bring it down, quarter, pack it off in the back of his pickup truck and fill his freezer. For those of you who don’t know the term “jack”, it means to hunt with a powerful light, which blinds the creature. While he is standing there with eyes fixed on the beam of light radiating from your powerful lantern, you shoot it. Done under the cover of darkness and far removed from DNR Law enforcement, the culprit gets away clean, leaving only the innards and remnants of what was once, a majestic beast. 

Then there are those who proclaim that if you live between Port Elgin and Cape Tormentine, between Melrose and the Amherst Shore, that sitting in your kitchen, overlooking your apple orchard you are guaranteed a freezer full of illegal venison. Simply open your kitchen window and blast away at the deer, bear or other creatures eating the succulent fallen apples under your apple trees a few feet away. Those plentiful trees planted long ago by an ancestor to serve your grand mothers needs now serve a vial disservice….as bait for an illegal deer meal. 

And then there is the strapping young man earning his living as a fisherman, who blatantly states that “When I hunt my deer in Coles Island and spend .00 for 300 lbs of apples and grain and I lay out my bait pile in the hopes of attracting that big white tailed buck and a bear comes by, as bears do in Coles Island, and begins to feast on those apples and the grain and defecates in the area, I choose to shot him on the spot”. He’s not a trophy, he is a nuisance. And no I didn’t claim the body and harvest the meat, I left him there to rot and when my buck comes back, I’ll kill him too.” 

Poaching is an unforgivable sin and poachers should be prosecuted to the limit of the law. Instead of manifesting bad behavior, or perpetuating bad behavior, quite possibly the time has come for Dad’s to enjoy a sport and to enjoy bringing up their sons with them, to hunt, to fish and to become part of a wilderness filled with natural wonders in N.B. Possibly it is time for Dad’s to bring up their sons to love and respect the creatures that abound here and to report all poachers to the DNR so that the abundant harvest and pleasures, available to us in Nature, may continue uninterrupted in perpetuity. 

Maybe the time has come?

Bob Belliveau-Ferrin Lemieux
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