On November 19th, I ran a quick errand and returned home to see a man running through my backyard, in broad daylight, pushing some type of cart. Alarmed by this unwelcome and unlawful intrusion, I ran out on the deck and asked him what he was doing.
This stranger, visibly angry that I was questioning him and challenging this trespass, started shouting about his need to retrieve a deer he killed.
The hunter indignantly insisted I wasn’t “supposed to be home”. The fact that the stranger seemed to know my schedule and addressed me by name was incredibly unnerving. He had apparently killed the deer in my backyard and rightfully assumed that I would not grant him legal permission to enter my property to retrieve the buck.
I took his photo and demanded he leave the property. I called my husband, Ken, notified both the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (“IDNR”) and the local sheriff’s office, and then went to speak with my neighbor whose land the man supposedly had permission to hunt. She wasn’t home or didn’t answer the door.
I photographed the hunter’s truck and license plate to share with law enforcement. After arriving back home, I went out to determine how much damage the hunter caused.
The search did not take long. I found a magnificent buck near a large puddle of blood next to a well-worn walking trail right outside our back door.
There was no blood trail to be found outside of the immediate area where the deer collapsed which indicates this deer was shot while on our land.
Along the fence line dividing the properties, approximately 25 feet from a visible “no trespassing” sign, sat a half empty bottle of beer – beer the hunter was presumably drinking while he sat on the fence line, watching and waiting for me to leave the house that day.
When law enforcement arrived, Ken and I led them to the deer’s remains. Horribly shaken by the confrontation with the trespasser and the deer’s death, I reluctantly permitted DNR to take the deer but insisted that the antlers should be removed first. I was not comfortable allowing this poor deer to become someone’s wall ornament.
With a heavy heart, Ken grabbed the hunter’s deer cart and assisted the conservation officer (“CO”) in loading the deer in the back of IDNR’s truck. He then proceeded with the ghastly task of removing the animal’s antlers.
While filling out my victim’s statement, the CO mentioned that he believed he had a run-in with this hunter in the past. (Sure enough, a quick Internet search revealed this trespasser had previous violations including the illegal taking of game and shooting from/on/across a highway in 2017.)
Before leaving, the CO assured me that misdemeanor charges would be filed against the hunter for his intrusion on our private property.
A week following this incident, I called the CO's supervisor for an update about pending charges against this man. While the Lieutenant told me charges were being filed, he was unable to provide copies of the investigative records and any prepared report(s).
Instead, I - the victim in this matter – was instructed to file an Indiana Public Access to Records request, a process that can, and often does, take the agency months to complete. To add insult to injury, the costs for any copies of records generated by this information request are to be imposed on me before any documents will be released.
The Lieutenant also stressed, when asked if the hunter was still able to hunt, that IDNR cannot revoke hunting privileges. This, of course, begs the question: if the agency that issues licenses cannot revoke hunting privileges, who can?
My family has been severely harmed by the hunter’s outrageous behavior; our peace has been shattered.
We valued that deer greatly, alive, and warmly welcomed him on this small, safe haven of land. We cultivated a trusting relationship with him, and all the animals who frequent our property. We delight in their presence.
The deer sightings on our property are now rare. We are left with a lingering reminder of this stranger’s disregard for the law, his sense of entitlement, and his blatant violation of our sense of safety and security.
UPDATE: According to Mycase.IN.gov, the hunter has been charged with a criminal misdemeanor (Fishing/hunting/trapping/chasing on Private Land without Landowner Consent; I.C. § 14-22-10-1).