Recently, as I read through DEC reports of game violations, I wondered if I was witnessing a disturbing trend this hunting season. It seemed as if the Adirondack woods were slowly becoming a grocery store for an unsavory group of characters who preferred to take game by any means.
Were hard economic times signaling the prospect that Adirondack beef was back on the market? Were people being forced to make decisions whether to buy fuel or food? I know that fuel must be purchased, but in the Adirondacks food can be had on the hoof.
Hoping to make sense of the significant number of violations, I spoke with Capt. Lawrence DiDonato at DEC Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook.
A pair of Iroquois warriors walk along Elk Lake's shoreline during the filming of “First Nations,” an upcoming Discovery Channel documentary.
(For the Enterprise — Joe Hackett)
I asked Capt. DiDonato, who supervises our local environmental conservation officers, if this season was an extraordinary year for the poaching and jacking of deer.
"The trend is about the same as it has been in the past, but the reporting has increased and the publicity has increased, so there is a greater awareness of the problem," DiDonato said.
"The amount of deer jacking arrests have come about because we have increased our efforts," DiDonato continued.
The department has put 'Robo-deer' to good use this season. "Robo-deer" is the nickname of a mechanical buck that ECOs set up along back roads that have traditionally been frequented by deer jackers. The decoy deer is very realistic; it can flick its tail, ears and move other body parts.
On the evening of Nov. 12, DEC officers arrested two men from Keene in separate incidents for illegally possessing loaded firearms in motor vehicles.
In addition to the initial charge, Michael T. McCoy, 22, was also charged with discharging a firearm from a public road. Lyman Boynton, 72, was also charged with taking wildlife from a public highway.
Both men were charged with misdemeanor offenses after shooting a deer decoy set up by DEC. They were issued tickets to appear in the town of Keene court at a later date.
"When I came here from DEC Region 4," DiDonato said. "I told my officers to make it (arresting poachers) a priority, since I view it as a theft of natural resources from the legitimate hunters."
DEC's increased efforts paid off when three men from Tupper Lake were recently arrested for "deer jacking," an incident in which a deer was taken with an artificial light.
Matthew Bean, 27, and Shawn Savard, 27, were each charged with one misdemeanor offense of Environmental Conservation Law for taking a deer with an artificial light, while James Dewyea, 38, was charged with unlawful possession of a deer, a violation.
The incident on Oct. 14 occurred when ECOs encountered three men on state Route 30 in the town of Harrietstown at approximately 1 a.m., in possession of a three-point buck that had been shot earlier that night near the Saranac Inn Golf Course.
An investigation lead to additional charges. All three men were charged with offering false statements to ECOs, a Class A misdemeanor.
Savard was also charged with three more misdemeanors, including possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, discharge of a firearm across a public highway and discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and one violation, hunting without a license.
All three men were issued summons to appear in the Town of Harrietstown Court on Dec. 3.
These incidents highlight the fact that jackers and poachers are busy stealing game from all of the honest, ethical sportsmen and women who pay for the privilege to hunt in fair chase. The poachers have proven that they will lie, cheat and steal to accomplish such tasks.
It is the right and responsibility of all sporting enthusiasts to protect our natural resources and our sport. Do the right thing! If you have information regarding illegal hunting activities, please contact the DEC Turn in Poachers & Polluters line at 1-800-847-TIPP (7332).
Iroquois return to Adirondacks
The Discovery Channel will air an Adirondack-based television production titled "America's First Nations" at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6.
The docudrama will detail the history of the Iroquois Confederacy. Based in a time centuries prior to European discovery of the continent, the plot follows the story of the creation of the Iroquois Confederacy.
The program was a joint production of Think Films and Half Yard Productions of Washington, D.C.
It was filmed on location at Elk Lake and Clear Pond in North Hudson, at the Pack Forest in Warrensburg and at High Falls in the Catskills.
The cast included Native American actors from across New York representing each of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois as well as members of the Sioux, Cheyenne and Blackfoot nations.
Many cast extras came from Akwasasne, the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation near Massena, including Joanne Shenandoah, a Grammy Award-winning Native American singer, songwriter and actor who has a leading role in the production.
John Fadden, of Onchiota, and Doug George, of Akwasasne, also served as project consultants to insure the integrity of the production and to authenticate the historical accuracy of traditional scenes.
Travelers familiar with the High Peaks surrounding Elk Lake and the Pack Forest in Warrensburg are sure to recognize much of the scenery.
The Discovery Channel production is third Adirondack-based project to air in recent months, following a Public Broadcasting Service documentary release in September and a British Broadcasting Corporation documentary that aired in October.
Adirondacks On Location, a production services company based in Ray Brook, provided support services for the productions.