Dear Poacher

Steve Gilliland
Special to the Globe

As all the various hunting seasons unfold here in Kansas, so do incidents involving illegal hunters, AKA poachers.

As I worked on this week’s column, I stumbled upon this heart-felt letter sent to me by a reader a few years back, along with in-depth explanations of problems they have each year with poachers on their land.

I felt the letter very applicable and worth sharing, so here is this week’s column entitled “Dear Poacher.”

Dear Poacher,

The time is soon approaching to fill your pickup gas tank, load up your “partner in crime”, and set out to fill your freezer, illegally, with venison, turkey, deer and pheasant.

Although you may argue that all roads and right of ways belong to the public and the wildlife only belongs to the creator, let me argue a different point of view. As a landowner and a hunter, your style of hunting violates the work we have done to keep the wildlife healthy and available for our family and friends. Let me explain.

This summer/fall particularly has been tough on the wildlife. Ponds have dried up and water sources have become scarce. Grain crops have failed to produce the usually yields.

Habitat for wildlife has been destroyed by grazing and haying, leaving the animals looking for new cover and feed.

This landowner has responded to this situation by establishing fresh water resources. We hauled water twice or more a week. Salt and mineral blocks were set out and food plots were planted and replanted several times. Windmills were left pumping in vacant pastures.

Cattle were fenced out of future food sources. We shared our growing crops (mostly involuntarily). We maintained current orchards and planted additional orchards for wildlife.

These things were not done to enhance your chances of success. They were done to ensure that deer, turkey, pheasant, and quail would continue to flourish and be available for our hunters, not only now, but for future generations.

Therefore, we want to make the following promises:

— When you choose to road hunt, we will identify your vehicle and report it to law enforcement. Road hunting dishonors you, your family, and the traditions of ethical hunting and tarnishes the names of hunters in general.

— When you choose to spotlight and kill deer, law enforcement will be notified. By spotlighting, you are not only violating the law, you are putting a farmer’s property and livestock in jeopardy.

— When you choose to hunt without permission, we will press charges of criminal trespass and encourage prosecution. You are providing inappropriate role models for those who are hunting with you and those who hear about it.

Is a pheasant really worth a tarnished reputation? We promise to clearly mark our land with purple markers and post sufficient signs.

All of the above are illegal. If caught, you risk losing your vehicle, your guns, your hunting privileges, and sometimes your job. A hefty fine is usually part of the package deal.

We have worked very hard to help sustain and improve the quality and quantity of the wildlife in our area.

As hunting seasons continue to open, do both of us a favor; hunt legally or stay at home.


Reno County Land Owners.

This pretty well says it all…continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve can be contacted by email at