My DS had a very interesting adventurous weekend. We were on a backpacking volunteer trip at a local wildlife preserve. Our goal was to remove invasive plant species in some rugged canyon areas of the preserve. Our trip happened to coincide with opening day for deer season on nearby National Forest land. Well, the manager drove us up to the “trail head” and notice a truck that looked suspiciously like a hunters truck so he decided to come down with us a little ways to check for hunters and let them know they were on preserve land. Well, the manager and one of the founders of our volunteer group got hot on their trail and found part of their group - 3 men and 2 teens.
It was pretty early in the morning when we started and their trail seemed to meander aimlessly - not like real skilled hunters, plus when we found them they were being so loud we thought there is no way they were serious hunters - and we heard no gunshots in the hours it took to find them. The manager figured (or maybe he just hoped) that they probably weren’t that skilled and might have given up by the time we found them. They were asked to leave and seemed pretty cooperative so we went along our way while the manager tried to track them back up canyon.
A while later we found 2 hidden deer heads, 2 separate gut piles and 4 hidden backpacks full of venison and ice packs, so we radioed up to the manager who apprehended the group we found and quickly learned there were 2 other men who heard us coming and hightailed it out. Being as the poachers knew we were unarmed volunteers we were told to photograph the evidence and get out of the area as quickly as possible. Most likely nothing would have happened but no one knew who we were dealing with and we were in rugged terrain. Problem was, they hid the stuff in our planned campsite. So we had to bushwack down canyon as fast as we could and had no idea when a better site for 11 people would appear . We were tired, with achy feet and just wanted to eat dinner!!!
Well - we found a good site and monitored the radio. They got all the poachers and cited them for trespassing, no tags, no hunters license, falsification of identification and a few other things. We helped the manager and the rangers bring the evidence, including the meat out and the good news is that if the game warden approves we get to have a barbeque next week! Well, I’m vegetarian so I won’t be partaking, but the rest of the party will. The going opinion is that they don’t want the deer to have lost their life and just have their body wasted. The game warden so far says they do not need the meat for evidence - just the heads and the ammo, spent shells we found, the packs and the pictures.
For a short while though we were kind of worried about those 2 guys with rifles that were obviously planning to come back for their prizes. I seriously doubt they would have attacked us, but you never know - people do strange things some times.