VIDEO: DNR fights rogue hunters in Minnesota
As dusk settles in on a November evening in northwestern Minnesota, conservation officers prepare for their evening hunt, but it's not whitetail they're after. It is big game violators...
As dusk settles in on a November evening in northwestern Minnesota, conservation officers prepare for their evening hunt, but it's not whitetail they're after. It is big game violators
"What we're trying to curb is the folks driving around doing that road hunting, where they'll actually do a couple violations," said Jeremy Woinarowicz, a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer.
In Minnesota it's illegal to take a big game animal from a road right of way, to transport a loaded firearm and to shoot on post land.
There are roughly 145 conservation officers covering Minnesota. That means each "C.O." covers a large area, and to combat illegal poaching, officers use several methods
"We use aircraft, we use patrols, we use trucks, we use the decoy," said Conservation Officer Pat Znada.
Once a decoy is in place, officers drive about a quarter-mile with lights out and park their trucks out of sight on a trail. They hike back to where they can watch the decoy and wait.
"You have to have all three things there: You have to have the violator, the deer and the C.O.," Woinarowicz said . "The timing has to be just right to make this work."
The reasons for big game poaching vary from the need for meat to trophy seeking. But it's an increase in a violation far more disturbing that has officials concerned. It's called "thrill killing."
"A lot of people go out and just like to kill, just to kill. It's a thrill for them. It's a game for them. They'll kill deer. They'll kill other animals. Shoot 'em, leave 'em, and go on to the next one," Znada said.
Those thrill killers give hunters a bad name, and that is an image conservation officers are trying to change.
"Why we're doing these operations is to curb these sorts of violation with hopes that people will sit in their stands and take game legally," Woinarowicz said.