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Behind the Badge - When Deer Fly

When Deer Fly

District Game Warden Greg Hastings

Deer are four-legged mammals that are not built to fly. So, if a deer would take flight, you would think something is wrong. In my experience if a deer flies something is definitely wrong.

Back in the fall of 2011, I was a new North Dakota game warden still in field training.

I was on patrol with my training officer when we received a call about deer poachers.

The poachers were allegedly driving by this landowner’s CRP field in the evening shooting deer on posted land.

The plan was to set a deer decoy out to lure the poachers.

My field training officer and I showed up to the spot and put the deer decoy out.

The stage was set, now we just needed the poachers to show up.

As we sat back waiting it wasn’t long before the poachers’ vehicle was seen coming down the road toward the decoy.

A shot was heard but they shot a live deer before they made it to our decoy.

The poachers were seen running into the field and loading a deer into their pickup.

The poachers now took off driving toward town with their poached deer.

My training officer and I followed behind as the poachers still didn’t know we were on them.

Soon after the poachers pulled up to their house with us pulling in right behind them.

They got out of their pickup with a knife and tag in hand thinking they better tag their deer now that the game wardens showed up.

The poachers were caught red handed but told us of more deer in their deep freeze.

They claimed the deer in the deep freeze were from the year prior.

Upon further inspection the deer in the deep freeze weren’t even completely frozen yet.

The gig was up, and the poachers told the complete story of what they had been up to.

They claimed some of the deer scraps were over at the neighbors being used for dog food.

When we went over to the neighbors to check on the deer scraps, no one answered the door.

A short while later, the homeowner drove up while smoking marijuana, and was not expecting us to be at his house.

He agreed to show us into the basement where the deer scraps were supposedly in a freezer.

A sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene and assisted us as they were led into this basement.

As the we followed the homeowner into his basement there was a vintage chevy Camaro sitting in his basement.

There were no doorways big enough to get a chevy Camaro into the basement, so I was intrigued to say the least.

As we kept following the homeowner, we came to another room where his wife was found smoking methamphetamine.

The deputy sheriff dealt with the wife as we continued following the homeowner to the freezer.

The homeowner pulled some frozen deer scraps out of the freezer.

Shortly after his wife was being placed under arrest by the deputy with her yelling for her husband to help.

At that point, the homeowner took the frozen deer scraps and threw them across the room at the deputy.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as to what just happened, but I learned that day when deer fly something is definitely wrong.

So, in the end the deputy was fine, and the poachers had their day in court.

With this job I have come to expect the unexpected.

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