This morning I set out with my friend and hunting buddy Jason Quinn to the farm outside Spencerville where we hunt deer. Our original plan was to bring our dogs and take them into the field after grouse and woodcock, then set about moving one of the deer stands, make adjustments to another and put more corn out as bait. We changed our plan because rain was forecast and decided to call off the upland hunt. We left the dogs at home and made our way to the farm, leaving Ottawa at 8:00 AM. We arranged to meet with one of our hunting buddies, Omer, and his friend Ehtisham at the farm as it was Omer’s stand that needed adjustment. Jason and I arrived before them as they stopped en route to pick up additional sacks of corn. Jason and I set out on Jason’s ATV with its trailer in tow laden with sacks of corn and the tools Jason needed for stand maintenance and relocation. We stopped by the new location for the stand slated for relocation and set out one of the sacks of corn. Then we moved on to my stand and when we arrived we were in for an unpleasant shock.
Jason carried the sack of corn as I walked to my stand. I walked past my stand toward the bait pile and noticed right away that the trail camera we had set up to monitor the bait was gone. I checked on my stand just the week before when I was hunting with my dog Hera and it was undisturbed. All that was left was the padlock and the wire that secured the camera to the tree. I noticed the mineral salt block left on the bait pile sitting on the ground several yards away from the pile. As I looked around the site I discovered the trail of blaze orange tape Jason and I left to mark a trail from the stand last November was gone too. We had to leave this trail when we searched in the dark for the nine point buck I shot on an afternoon hunt last November. Naturally, Jason and I were aghast and quickly checked to see if the thieves had tampered with my stand. The stand looked undisturbed, to my relief.
Once the shock wore off, Jason observed “it looks like someone does not want us here.” The property abuts a stand of crown land and my stand is located on the border between the privately owned and crown land. There is a group of hunters who maintain a camp on the neighbouring crown land. Before we knew this we had set up two of our stands on the crown land a few years ago. Once we realized there were other hunters using the same area, we moved our stands off the crown land. There were never any confrontations and as far as I know there is no reason for this group of hunters to have any issue with us hunting on the neighbouring property. Even if they have an issue with us hunting nearby, why would they resort to theft and only after several seasons? Jason and I were both very angry and bewildered. What makes people think it is okay to take things that do not belong to them?
We moved on to check out Jason’s stand and promptly found his trail camera was stolen. This time the wire and padlock were gone with the camera and I found a strip of the nylon strap that held the camera in place on the tree resting on the ground. It was cut. Thankfully, Jason’s stand was undamaged. Jason and I were out at the farm just before the opening of the 2017 fall hunting seasons and retrieved the photos on the trail cameras. We were puzzled as Jason’s stand is situated well within the borders of the property and quite hidden from view. Whoever swiped Jason’s trail camera had to either know his stand was there or brazenly trespassed. Of the various photos of deer and other animals there is one of an man we do not recognize passing in front of the camera set up by Jason’s stand. Obviously, someone knew the stand and the trail camera were there.
We completed the adjustments to Omer’s stand and the relocation of the other stand. This stand will be occupied by Jason’s wife Fran and we think we set it up in a prime location. We planned to set up a trail camera to monitor the area around Fran’s stand, but given the loss of two trail cameras this past week decided against it. We know there are deer on the property from scouting throughout the year. As we headed home, Jason proposed that we stop and buy more sacks of corn on the way. I agreed and we stopped by the Old Co-Op in North Gower to do so. We spoke with the staff there and told them about the theft of the trail cameras. One of the staff who sounds as though he has some knowledge of this kind of anti-social behaviour raised the possibility it was anti-hunters who are behind this. We asked if this were the case, why would they not have tampered with the deer stands. He replied that they are not inclined to do so because if they tamper with a deer stand and a hunter is injured as a result this carries a far more serious charge.
Judging on what Jason and I found at my stand, it looks very plausible that this might be the work of anti-hunters. Just as Jason observed when we came upon the scene, “it looks like someone does not want us here.” For now we cannot say for certain who is behind this or what their motive was, but it is very troubling. With deer season coming up next month we are left wondering if the stands are at risk of theft or vandalism. That, and Val our gracious hostess is left with the problem of people trespassing and thieving on her property. We brought this to Val’s attention and she approved of our filing a complaint with the Ministry of Natural Resources. Beyond that all we can do is Keep Calm and Carry On.
Posted by Geoffrey