View Full Version : MI: They're watching

Bob S
12-21-2008, 07:03 PM
ARTICLE (http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/article/20081221/SPORTS/812210328/1006)

Darren Warner • For The Enquirer • December 21, 2008

In southern Michigan, there are several quality deer management (QDM) cooperatives operating, where landowners agree to work together to improve deer food sources and habitat, and let younger bucks go, so they can develop and reach their growth and antler potential.

The Marshall Herd Management Co-op has an additional mission: to reduce the number of illegally harvested deer and help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) prosecute poachers.

The co-op is comprised of over 100 land owners who collectively manage nearly 10,000 acres of prime whitetail habitat.

"In our co-op, we have a group of hunters who turn in violators," said Kyle Kamprath (Monroe), current co-op president. "Poaching not only touches me, but it touches everybody, because we all feel like we've had a hand in growing the deer that are being illegally taken."

Kamprath and other co-op members work closely with DNR Conservation Officer (CO) Jeff Goss, who is assigned to work the north half of Branch County and all of Calhoun County.

When they hear about someone who illegally shot a deer, they pass that information on to CO Goss, who then conducts a thorough investigation of the alleged incident.

"Oftentimes, people who illegally take a deer talk about it with friends or neighbors," explained Kamprath.

"That information filters down to us. We are then able to pass on that information to CO Goss."

The partnership between co-op members and CO Goss began two years ago when the group asked Goss to speak at their annual meeting.

"I let the guys know how to get a hold of me if they become aware of any suspected cases of poaching," said Goss.

"I also reminded them, and I like to remind other hunters, that the number for reporting poaching can be found on the back of all Michigan deer hunting licenses."

Poaching is a big problem in Calhoun County, because it is well known that the county is a hotbed for producing trophy bucks.

"I have found that these poachers are not doing it because they need to feed their families, but because they are obsessed with antler size," added Goss.

Reporting suspected poaching is easy to do - just call the Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline (800-292-7800).

"When you call the RAP hotline, you will be asked if you would like to remain anonymous or have you identity kept confidential, " explained Goss. " We prefer the caller choose to have their identity kept confidential, so we can contact them if we have questions or need additional information."

While many cases are still awaiting trial, Kamprath estimates that information on over 30 cases has been turned over to CO Goss.

"What Kyle [Kamprath] and I are trying to accomplish is unite the county and show them what can be accomplished if we all work together" added Goss.

The cases are as interesting and varied as anything viewers would see on TV or in a movie theater.

One case involved three individuals shooting at and wounding a deer on private property. As they approached the deer, the group jumped another deer, and shot at it.

Unbeknownst to the group, a hunter was sitting in a treestand and witnessed everything. Pulling out his cell phone, the hunter was able to call CO Goss, who just happened to be only a couple miles away.

"With this job, timing is everything" said Goss. "Unfortunately, we can't be every place all the time."

Goss admits that his work is just beginning and that building trust with community members takes time.

"The longer people know me, they'll see that I won't divulge their name in court unless I have to, as I do in cases of trespassing," Goss said.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The picture displayed with this story is of CO Goss with a bevy of bucks that were illegally taken - all before the start of the 2008 firearm deer season.

They were taken during archery season with a firearm, killed after dark with aid of a spotlight, or involved some other illegal harvest method.

"People just need to know that we're watching and we're all working together to reduce the amount of poaching where we all hunt," said Kamprath.

So poachers beware. The next time you are watching a buck and thinking about taking it illegally, the deer might not be the only one being watched.