No trespassing. That's what an East Texas landowner has posted all over her property. Still, poachers decided to use her land as their own personal hunting grounds, but thanks to a tip they were caught. Smith County Game Wardens arrested three men for illegally hunting deer at the Texas Rose Horse Park. That's located off Highway 110 North, just outside Tyler. It's a crime, game wardens say many people may not realize is happening right on their property.
Preserving nature for her riders is one thing Kathy Brunson and her family take pride in on their almost 2,000 acre horse farm. That's why they decided not to allow hunting and posted signs warning poachers to stay away.
"There are people that go on rides and that's private," said Brunson. "It's there private horses, so they and their families go riding into the wooded areas. That's our concern, that there's people that we don't know out there shooting firearms. It's a very dangerous situation." Still, poachers took advantage of Brunson's deer abundant land, something Brunson says made her furious.
"Anger at first you know," said Brunson. "I felt violated and everything like that." Smith County Game Warden Chris Green says he believes three men have been illegally hunting on Brunson's land for about two years. One of them, Green says is a repeat offender.
"Most of our hunters who take wildlife illegally, they are not meat hunters," said Green. "They are not taking the meat to eat, or feed their families. Most of them are just trophy hunters for the antlers, bragging rights, maybe to put it on a shop wall." So far, Green says they can connect four deer with the men and two firearms. It's a crime, Green says is unfortunately not always easy to catch.
"These type of guys are hard because some of them are getting dropped off by girlfriends and friends, or family members," said Green. "We may hear a shot if we are close, but you know it's hard to track them down in the woods." That's why Green says it's so important for people to call authorities when they see something suspicious, and Brunson agrees.
"We want it to be known we do not want people coming on the property," said Brunson. Game wardens did not release the names of the three men arrested for hunting illegally. They do say the men face multiple charges such as trespassing, hunting without a license and killing more than one buck.
If you do see something suspicious you're asked to call the Texas Parks & Wildlife's Operation Game Thief line at 1-800-792-GAME.