In 2003 I was working for The Pennsylvania Game Commission as a full time Maintenance Supervisor and a Deputy Conservation Officer. October 20th was a Monday the second day of the early black powder deer season. Antlerless deer were legal game, but I no longer hunted.
It was one of those picture perfect October evenings with crystal clear skies and beautiful foliage. A tang was in the air. It was great to be alive and to be in the great outdoors. Several deer were present when I arrived and as it grew later, more and more wildlife appeared. A flock of large gobblers fed through the meadow and I photographed them with the 10D.
As the last rays of the evening sun bathed the mountain, the first large eight-point buck of the autumn appeared. He was following a doe and going through some of the classic maneuvers that a buck performs during the mating season, or rut as it is more commonly know. I was busily videotaping him when I heard the ominous crunch of tires on gravel in the road. A vehicle was coming slowly, and then it stopped! It struck a chill to the bottom of my heart! I ran crouched over to a nearby hay bale from while I could see the road and there was an old Chevy S-10 Blazer stopped at the gate to the property!
This was a terrible dilemma. I knew most of the deer in the field; I had watched them raise their fawns, I had protected them as best I could. Now, death was at the door, but it was my job as an officer to wait until the subject acted and then arrest him. If I approached him at any time before he fired he could claim he was not hunting but just looking at them through his scope. That is assuming I could get to him. If I were really lucky he would let me walk to him and not unload his gun while I approached. Then I would have a loaded firearm in the vehicle violation. Most likely he would flee and return at another time to do more of his evil work.
Luckily I did not have to make the decision as he did not fire at that time and came driving past me when I took the picture that identifies him best. It was very late by this time and I used ISO 1600 with the lens zoomed to 350mm. I shot handheld with a shutter speed of 1/60 and the picture is blurred. Needless to say my nerves were not the best at this point. While this was taking place I realized that several of the deer had followed me and were all around and in front of the bale I was hiding behind. This was not good if he decided to shoot at this point, as I was in his line of fire!
For whatever reason he did not shoot at that time, but went back to the gate and sat for some time. It was not a good situation to use the camera so I watched through binoculars. Again, I saw the rifle come out the window and he fired this time.
I ran to my vehicle to pursue him. As I came in sight he pressed the accelerator to the floor and I never saw him again. I didn’t even have time to engage my red light. I search and searched for a dead or wounded deer in the area in which the rifle was pointed without success. At the time he shot I felt sure that all of the deer that were part of the herd that I photograph on a regular basis were with me.
At the time the District Wildlife Conservation Officer was Travis Pugh a fine, aggressive, young man who took a personal interest in the case. I gave him the pictures and within a week or so he encountered the vehicle on another back road and stopped it. It was the same lad and his fiancé. He was road hunting that day with a 30/30 rifle. When Officer Pugh asked him about the incident with me, he denied any knowledge until he was shown the pictures and then he became confused and wasn’t certain whether Pugh was inquiring about the deer which he shot on Sunday, or the one on Monday. This youth was a roving wildlife criminal, shooting deer wherever he could find them. He had committed multiple violations: (hunting by use of motorized vehicle, and hunting by unlawful methods as the 30/30 was not a legal weapon in black powder season, and other lesser charges). I forget the exact charges that Travis filed, but the defendant did plead guilty to them.
The day after the violation I noticed that one of the does was missing and in time the farmer for the property was driving past and could see her lying in tall brush by the roadside from the vantage point of his tractor seat. When I searched before I was assuming that the deer that he shot at was in another meadow in the area as that is the way the barrel was pointed, but evidently while I was distracted this one left me and walked into the lane behind the gate and he shot her. From a dead rest over the vehicle sill with a scoped 30/30 he shot her in the intestines, and she turned back into the brush where she died a hard lingering death. She left behind one of the cutest fawns I have ever seen. She is still alive today, although I shudder to say that as season is in again, and between the road hunters, the night shooters, or straying from the posted sanctuary, life is very uncertain for a whitetail deer.
"So Sad And Alone Without Any Mother"
The outlaw never thinks of what they leave behind, nor do they care!