thLiving out in the country, there’s not much excitement—unless you count the eerie disappearance of our entire chicken flock last week. Until Monday night…

Chris came home after twelve hours at work, and not fifteen minutes later BAM! A rifle shot reverberated through the house. We rushed outside to spot a small, white truck sitting on the road below our property—barely discernable in the waning light.

“Poachers,” Chris said, running for his car.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to stop them. They’re on private property, shooting too close to the house. No way they’re getting away with it.”

As he slid into his car, another gunshot exploded, causing me to duck in response. My eyes tracked the truck backing up as soon as Chris drove out of the driveway. They were leaving. Within seconds, I lost sight of both the truck and Chris’s Civic. And then it hit me—whoever this guy is, he’s running because he’s guilty—and carrying a weapon. Maybe chasing after him wasn’t the best idea Chris ever had.

The next twenty minutes dragged by. I turned off the stove and paced from the deck to the kitchen, where the broccoli was turning to mush and the potatoes were cooling. Whatever was taking so long couldn’t be good.

Finally, Chris’s headlights glowed down the road and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was so easy to imagine the worst. When he got inside, he gave me a quick rundown as he dialed the number for a sheriff-friend—there were two men in the truck—easy enough to track on the narrow, private road—easy enough to jot down the license plate number. They refused to stop, but he locked the gate to our road behind them so they couldn’t come back.

“We need to go out and see if they hit a deer,” he told me as I served up dinner. “The game warden is being contacted.” We ate fast and gathered headlamps and boots.

It started raining as we drove down the road and parked. If not for the seriousness of what we were doing, I would have stopped to enjoy the damp autumn smells that rose up from the wet weeds. Tracking a dead animal, especially one as beautiful as the bucks we’d watched grazing under the oak tree every day, wasn’t on my list of favorite things to do.

We walked in separate directions, scanning our lights into eerie shadows, until we came back full circle. Chris pointed near the road. “Why don’t you go look around there while I keep searching this area.”

I didn’t think it likely that a buck would have been hanging around the road while some lunatic hunter scoped him out, but I was wrong. Not two minutes later, I nearly tripped over him—a beautiful four-by-three. He’d gone down so hard, his face was buried in the ground. I took a deep breath and called out to Chris.

Within the hour, the game warden showed up—and she’d already tracked down the owner of the vehicle with the driver’s license number Chris gave her over the phone. She wanted to collect the buck, scan the area for casings and get back so she could question him. The charges were many—he’d shot within 150 yards of three houses, from a private road posted with “No Trespassing” and “No Hunting” signs. He hunted from the road, used his headlights and left the dead deer behind.

The next morning, another game warden and his partner showed up at the house with lots of information. While we’d been sleeping, they’d been investigating. The two men in the truck intended to come back at midnight and collect the buck. And, they were correctional officers.

It’s hard enough when people break the law, but it’s disgusting to know those who take an oath to keep order think the rules don’t apply to them. Why does this surprise me when I’ve heard about corruption on every level? When I know that the prince of this world is Satan—and those who follow him allow themselves to be motivated by greed and self-centeredness. It seems so insignificant in the bigger scheme of things—like ISIS and Ebola and eternity—and yet, our little piece of paradise is now tainted by the real world.

One thought on “Poaching

  1. Oh Jen, this just made me cry! Your place is so idealic, it is horrible that the real world infiltrated it. I didn’t realize that poaching was still so common in the modern world. I’m glad that neither you nor Chris (or the dogs!) were hurt and that the people were caught. BTW, what happened to the chickens?

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