There is a pretty good population of White-tailed Deer living in the park land around Old Alton Bridge in Denton County. I have discovered an abundance of deer sign, in certain areas, on my occasional visits to the park this summer.

Unfortunately, where there are deer there are almost certainly going to be poachers. And that looks like it might be the case here as well.

I first visited this area of prime whitetail habitat on August 12. I brought a couple of Scouting Cameras with me in hopes of getting some photographic evidence of the deer I suspected were there. I intended to set my cameras far off the beaten path, and as I made my way into the woods I was surprised to stumble across this hunting stand mounted in a tree near a well traveled game trail. Vegetation had been cleared from in front of the stand creating a tidy little kill-zone.

I set my Scouting Cameras as I had planned, and then headed home to check the regulations covering hunting on public land around Lake Lewisville. Here is what I found:

Here are the hunting regulations in a nutshell:

Hunting Licenses, Permits, and Fees: To obtain a hunting permit for Lake Lewisville a valid hunter education certificate is required regardless of age. You may get a one time “Hunter Education Deferral” . This can be purchased where and when you buy your Texas Parks and Wildlife state hunting license. You can pick up the Corps permits starting August 16, 2011 at our lake office located at 1801 N. Mill Street, Lewisville, Texas. The Corps permits are free, but you will need a valid drivers license, a valid 2012-2013 TPWD hunting license and either a hunter education certificate or “hunter Ed. Deferral” at the time you pick up your permit. You will receive a hunting guide, map and vehicle permit when you get your hunting permit.

Legal Game: Dove, quail, squirrel, rabbits, snipe, rails, feral hogs, waterfowl and turkey.

Bag Limits: Bag limits are the same as those listed in the 2012-2013 Texas Outdoor Annual for Denton County.

Open Seasons: Hunting for legal game (listed above) allowed as published in the Texas Outdoor Annual for Denton County. The hunting areas will open September 1, 2012 and close August 31, 2013.

Legal Hunting Weapons and Methods: Archery only for feral hogs, all other legal game may be taken with a shotgun using shot size no larger then #2. Crossbows WILL be allowed to hunt Feral Hogs. It is ILLEGAL to hunt with or carry Muzzle-loaders, rifles and pistols while on USACE property.

Hunter Responsibility: All hunters must obey hunting regulations issued by County, State, and Federal Governments and abide by the Fort Worth District hunting policy. All persons hunting on Corps of Engineers lands or waters will be held liable for any conduct or action which endangers the safety of other project visitors or adjacent landowners and for damage to property on project lands and adjoining private property. Motorized Vehicles of any kind are not allowed on US Army Corps of Engineer property. Hunters must wear at least 400 square inches of hunters orange material when hunting and are also required to wear some type of orange head wear. Hunters exempt from this requirement are: persons hunting turkey, waterfowl, or migratory birds. Non-bark penetrating tree stands, as well as temporary free-standing blinds such as towers, platforms, tent-style, and natural blinds are allowed. However, each blind, regardless of use, must be completely removed from the land or water upon completion of each hunting days. Public law 111-024 does not apply to Corps projects or facilities, therefore it is illegal to carry any firearm even with a state/federal certified CHL.

The key points here are that deer hunting is not allowed at Lake Lewisville at all, and while stands are permissible, they cannot be left in place overnight.

So, was this stand there for hunting Feral Hogs, which is allowed (archery only)? Well, maybe.

Usually when there are Feral Hogs present in an area their sign is pretty hard to miss. So far, I’ve found no indications of Feral Hog activity in this park. But, I have heard rumors. Perhaps verifying their presence or absence would make a good future project.

When I returned to the park two weeks later I was pleased to find a number of new White-tailed Deer photographs on my cameras. Like I said, there is a pretty healthy population making their way on these public lands.

Just for the record, I did not photograph any Feral Hogs with this set.

But, deer were not the only thing I recorded on my cameras. I also got pictures of this interesting party packing out the hunting stand that I had discovered on my earlier visit. These photographs were taken on August 19—seven days after I first discovered the hunting stand.

Now, I can think of several possible explanations for what is going on in these pictures. Some of them involve poaching, and some of them don’t. I will leave it up to my readers to judge for themselves what the most likely scenarios may be.

Whatever it is these guys are up to, it certainly appears to be a family affair. In addition to the man carrying the stand, there were also three boys tagging along, ranging in age from their late teens down to the age of 7 or 8. No doubt important lessons about how to behave on public park lands were being learned on this day.

Postscript: These guys were kind enough to leave my camera alone. I consider myself to have returned the favor by pixelating their faces.

Observations Details

County Denton
City Unincorporated
Date Aug 12, 2012 – Aug 25, 2012
Time of Day Various
Temperature Hot (greater than 89°F/32°C)
Weather Cloudy
Habitat Recreation-Park
Type of Behavior Various
Gender Mixed
Maturity Mixed
Observer Chris Jackson
Main Article White-tailed Deer Observation Location

7 Replies to “White-tailed Deer – Poachers?”

  1. Those deer look like they’re malnourished. I’ve seen healthier looking deer hanging on a wall. It would seem like some deer need to be culled. Since the State won’t allow hunting, poaching would seem beneficial for the overall health of the herd.

    1. One of these deer has dermatitis, but other than that it’s health is good. The one with the ribs showing is a juvenile that has been separated from his mother. He is clearly struggling. But the other deer are healthy. In fact, just a few weeks ago I recorded pictures of a doe with three fawns in the same location. Here are some pictures comparing that doe to the undernourished juvenile from the exact same vantage point:

      DeerCompare

      DeerCompareZoom

      There is no chance adult deer are starving on this property. There is a bounty of food here. This is summer, not the depth of winter. There is no need for a cull. There is no need to try and rationalize a reason to poach.

      Here’s the deal. I hope these guys are operating on the level. The suburbs are rapidly closing in on this COE land. The clock is ticking on public hunting here. Frankly, I’m surprised they still allow it. Poaching will only bring about its end that much sooner.

      1. I actually saw the same setup and called operation Game Thief. GF referred me to the Corps of Engineers saying they had no jurisdiction and the CoE did not return my several calls. Now, there is part of that area that is not within the corps boundaries that may be open to hunt. It would then be a decision of Flower Mound or Denton County.

      2. Yes, this was a complicated enforcement situation. For instance, the deer stand in and of itself is not illegal. Only when they are left overnight do they become in violation (which this one certainly was).

  2. Sorry but yes these deer are in serious need of being culled, it is obvious they are in a area where they should be healthy and as you can see they are looking sick and undernourished. I know it makes a lot of nature lovers mad but if you don’t start culling the deer mother nature will do it with a disease, when I was a kid back in the late 70’s New Mexico deer hunting went to Buck only for a few years and the deer population got overwhelming and around 81 they contacted a disease and you could only find deer carcasses that hunting season. We only seen 1 deer around sitting bull falls a doe and she looked very ill so we left her alone and on our last day of our 2 week bow hunt we seen the same deer and she was almost dead. If we don’t cull the deer as I said mother nature will and I would rather the meat go to good use like feeding my family than to rot on the ground.

    1. The deer population on this property is doing fine. These photographs were from several years ago. The population was fine then and it is fine now. There has been no mass illness or mass die-off. Deer die in nature all of the time, for many different reasons. They get sick, injured, or old. When they do, their carcasses do not “rot on the ground.” They provide food for many other types of wildlife. The wildlife in these woods need the resources provided by deer carcasses much more than people do. People can go to the grocery store. Legal hunting is OK. Poaching is not. Please do not try to rationalize it in this blog.

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