That Friend May Be A Poacher

Susan Lindsley | September 17, 2023

Poachers are despicable. When I began hunting in 1965, I thought night riders were the worst. I changed my mind the second day of bow season this year when a man I considered a friend turned into a poacher.

Another close friend hunted for 50 or more years as a guest, and when his buddy became disabled, I suggested he invite someone to hunt with him so he wouldn’t be alone. It was my idea of safety.

The second guest hunted, like Guest 1, at no charge. I provided a bunk house, private bathroom with running water, electricity, corn when it became legal to hunt over it, tower deer stands and food plots. Their only responsibility was keep corn in my yard feeder at my expense, keep the yard pool filled with water, scrub down the kitchen widows where I shot my camera, and other miscellaneous chores.

The guest of the guest ruined their deer hunting and my friendship and trust on day two of bow season when he became a poacher.

With a long-term no-hunting-in-the-yard rule, I take probably as many as 1,000 pictures every trip I make to the farm. I illustrate books with these pictures. I give names to the bucks and some of the does. For example, Two-spot (for two white spots on each side just above the white belly which enabled me to track his antlers for three years), or Pappy for the two papilloma on his face. The deer become my yard buddies.

I left the farm opening day of bow season and wished the guest of my guest good luck. Our mutual friend lay in the hospital from a wreck and would be in rehab for weeks.

Sunday morning Guest Number 2 called to say he had killed the Ten Pointer. Not in the yard, but down by my pond, from the tower stand. He said Guest Number 1 had told him to kill it if he could, to keep Cindy from killing it. Cindy hunted across the fence and railroad in exchange for planting food plots for my guests; keeping the roads cut and fallen debris removed, keeping fields open. Cindy became my friend before she was born, and I couldn’t believe Guest 1 had said that.

Guest 2 was quite convincing with his statements. But I thought about the tower stand… wasn’t it in bad shape? Didn’t one of them complain about its condition last fall? I called Cindy; she dropped her chores at her family farm and became my detective.

She climbed up the tower and discovered two plastic chairs, upside down, the backs still covered with fallen debris, the camo in shreds. No one had been in it that morning.

I asked her to find the gut pile: he told me he was field-dressing it when I called him. She never found a gut pile.

Instead she found blood on the ground in front of the front porch where the deer was hit. She followed the blood trail to the site where the buck died. From that site, Guest 2 loaded the deer into his Humvee and drove across the road to show it off to my sister.

Cindy followed the trail he left when he returned. His tires crunched the standing hay. Fortunately it had not been cut so she could even follow it from her truck.

She found the remains: NOT a gut pile, but the carcass minus the head, cape and back strap.

He took enough hide for a shoulder mount. He left about three or more grocery bags of roast, steak and hamburger meat. He also stated that my other guest (who was also the creep’s host and in the hospital from a wreck) had told him to kill the buck so Cindy, next-door, couldn’t get it.

I have asked the DNR law officers to investigate all aspects of the situation. From the earliest days of deer hunting, I have fought poaching, confronted poachers day and night, even used the CB radio to help Rangers nab the culprits, and fought a shady judge to get convictions.

For Guest 2, I have taken what action I can: I have expelled him from my land, changed locks, and temporarily seized his personal possessions. I will allow him back once, under supervision, to recover his “stuff.”

What happened to just ol’ fashioned respect? Respect for the animal? Respect for other hunters? Respect for landowners? Respect for your hosts?

Most of all, what has happened that some hunters do not respect themselves and are willing to stoop to betraying friendships just for antlers?

Back in the days I hunted, we shared information to help each other harvest a deer. We didn’t kill one to keep another hunter from taking it. We didn’t throw away good meat. We didn’t lie about what we saw or did. We were happy if we were able to harvest a yearling with spikes.

Are we returning to the days of night riders and poachers who kill only for the trophy? If I had not expelled Guest 2, would he repeat his actions? Would he become like others before him and shoot by headlights?

I  hope not. But now, who can I turn to as hunters for my land? Where can I find a hunter I can trust? Somewhere out there, there must be some, but when a long-term guest, who you thought was a friend, becomes a poacher, whom can you trust with your yard deer?


Susan Lindsley is the author of the international award-winning book “Possum Cops, Poachers and the Counterfeit Game Warden,” available online through Amazon, Walmart and other sources. A description of the book and Ms. Lindsley includes, “She went from ‘I don’t want to hunt’ to an avid deer hunter, an expert tracker, a teacher for her friends, and a ferocious activist for game management. She writes as she lived those years: With a heart for animals, an enthusiasm for the outdoors and a love of painting pictures with words.”

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  1. AtlantaDeer on September 19, 2023 at 10:17 am

    Despicable and lazy, not a true hunter in my eyes. Unfortunately, I encounter these types every year in urban Atlanta but with improved DNR coverage in Fulton we are seeing more and more caught each year thankfully.

  2. 17Tactical on September 18, 2023 at 7:15 am

    Sad to see that this happened to the author. The killing seems to be the norm now days instead of the hunt.
    I understand the author’s frustrations. I am a landowner and have problems with hunters trespassing on my land from surrounding properties during the deer and turkey seasons. It is sad that a landowner has to fight to try to get the local DNR agents to respond and/or when they do respond, do anything about trespassers and poachers.
    I have not met a landowner yet that purchased their properties for other people’s unsolicited use. But for some reason people approach private property as they are entitled to access the property as they please. Again, where has the common respect gone?

  3. scountryman on September 17, 2023 at 8:45 am

    A great case of one person affecting many. There are probably a bunch of land owners that are reading this story and saying “ the only way to prevent this from happening on my land is to not let anyone else hunt on it “. It’s a tragedy, because some out here are ethical hunters. We follow the rules regardless. If we step over a County line while hunting and that line represents a change in the rules , then we obey it. It’s so sad for us ( those that obey the law/rules ) that a few lawless ruin hunting opportunities. Many of us are truly trying to provide for our families. I’ve never understood how someone can go onto someone else’s property and feel entitled. 😞

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