We know so much about the poachers because, after recent heavy rains, the fields are so muddy that they got their vehicle stuck. The poachers were easily apprehended by our local police, who I'm sure pointed and laughed at them before dragging them off to the station. It is a serious issue.
Aside from deer, heating oil has been stolen from farms around us, and dried split wood from the woodsman's barn at the bottom of the road. Chickens and geese have also been taken and I'm worried for my turkeys. Last night someone ripped open a round bale of silage, one in a pile of bales. The cheeky thieves were checking the quality before they went to the trouble of stealing it! They would have to come back with a tractor and bale forks to get it.
In a bid to help, we've set up our Critter Cams in various hotspots. Normally we use these infra-red cameras to look for predator activity of the furred and feathered kind. But, vermin is vermin, and if we can catch a face or vehicle make/plate number, it might help stave off future thefts. Or at least give the police something to go on.
I'm not worried about things getting stolen, but I fret over our kennel dogs. If I were to lose a dog to a thief I would be inconsolable.
Quincy has been letting me know that she wishes to spend more time with me, instead of in the kennel with the other dogs. When I try and put Quincy in the kennel after a walk, she stands next to me wagging her tail. If I leave the truck open, she jumps in, peeks out at me and wags her tail. So, she's been coming with me on morning checks. We're packed up ready with feed, milk replacement, and pheasants for neighbours -
The back is full so Quincy has to ride up front with me, which she prefers. She uses the opportunity to showcase her retrieving skills. First a notebook -
Here - I found this for you!
Then a lamb's milk bottle -
Here - I found this for you!
Hey - you'll never guess what?! Yup. I found this for you!
And this is all before I've even pulled out of the driveway.
In her defense, if I cleaned out my truck once in a while, we might not have the in-car retrieving entertainment. But, where's the fun in that? In the end, I give her a dog lead to hold on the ride around and she stares out the front window, proud as anything to be carrying her lead.
When we returned from our morning rounds, I saw that the stalker was in with the boys having breakfast. How do I know? -
Gamekeepers are easier to track than deer. Look for abandoned boots, en route to a kettle and baked goods.
Dave the stalker was successful on my patch of ground, and put a big fallow doe in the chiller for me. That's two roe does, and one fallow doe for about 80 pounds of meat in our freezer this month. I've butchered and packaged both roe already, but the fallow will have to hang until after Christmas. For the rest of the season, our shoot day menu will be venison casserole for the workers, thanks to that fallow.
The dogs had all the raw bones, and butchering scraps. There was enough to feed seven dogs for three days. And I made 5 quarts of game stock for soup and casseroles. It was an early Christmas present for us all.
These are some of the dogs, post-feast -
They tell me they're working dogs, but that it happens to be their night off.