Highwires, Bowling Pins, and Other Duties as Assigned

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 9, 2010

brother shouted for his older brother to release the dog and "sic" it on the deer. The dog eventually caught the small buck and dragged it to the ground. The brothers weren't far behind, and after a long struggle they (with some help from their father and a friend) subdued the deer and killed it.

As they were carrying the deer home across city property, they were arrested.

After a brief interrogation, the older brother abandoned his "self defense" argument and confessed to how he actually killed the deer. Even then he asked to keep a photo of the deer.

"It's my first deer," he explained when I asked him why. "I'm kind of proud of it."

In early spring, closed-season turkey hunters are the catch of the day. Like a handful of deer poachers, some turkey poachers have contests to see how many birds they can kill each spring. They'll try everything from spotlighting gobblers on the roost to shooting them with deer rifles. When caught, most of them confess immediately, but a few turn tail and run through the woods like flushed bunnies.

To catch turkey violators during the spring season, we often conduct multi-agency wildlife roadblocks. During one four-and-a-half hour roadblock conducted recently in Oregon County, we checked 60 hunters heading south out of Missouri. By the end of the day, we made nine wildlife arrests involving illegal possession of turkeys and fish. Most of the violations were for failing to tag, or for possessing an overlimit of turkeys.

A conservation agent's duties extend beyond enforcing the Wildlife Code. I'm occasionally asked to participate in multi-agency projects that don't necessarily involve fish and wildlife violations, and I'm always happy to oblige. Assisting other law enforcement agencies is an integral part of the job, especially in rural areas. In return, they help us when needed, too.

An example of these "other" law enforcement responsibilities occurred near Alton, Mo. For nearly three weeks one February, a suspected murderer had eluded authorities in the rugged woods and caves of the Mark Twain National Forest. The manhunt began after the suspect allegedly shot and killed an associate with a .30-06 rifle and then fled on foot.

The Oregon County Sheriff's Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol called the Conservation Department and the U.S. Forest Service for assistance. The Oregon County dispatcher called the sheriff over the radio and exclaimed, "The same thing has happened again. There's been another

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