Times Are Changing - Equipment Thefts
We all know that things have changed enormously in our lives. Life seems to be getting busier, society seems to be getting more impatient, and the world seems to be spinning faster. Those who love the outdoors and spend a lot of time in it have noticed a number of changes as well, not only in habitat, or in wildlife/fish populations... but also in people.
My family doesn't own a lot of land, so we typically have to either ask permission from people to hunt their land, or stick to public land. Hunting public land comes with its own issues. When growing up, the biggest “problem” we used to have while hunting public land was that it seemed to be common practice for people, if they came upon your treestand, to climb on up and hunt it. We used to have an older gentleman who had a camp across the road from ours who was notorious for it, but he took it to a whole other level. He was known to give out the locations of the treestands he knew about to everyone and anyone, and tell them it was his, and they were welcome to use it anytime. He was a nice man, and we liked him... but he certainly had no secrets (and by the way no tree stands of his own). It was not uncommon to head into your treestand and find someone in there, who would tell you that he had been given permission by our neighbour.
In recent years however, it appears that people who find your stands are more likely to steal it than to hunt from it. Whether it's due to improvements in technology and the quality of what we're leaving in the woods, or a general change in the nature of people, there seems to be an increase in theft of hunting equipment. In the area that I hunt, we have hunted areas in the same public land for decades in some cases, and never had any problem from others until the past year or so. During moose season of 2013, I experienced my first loss of equipment due to hunting, as a trail camera was stolen from a bear bait stand. This past fall, I had much more stolen from me from a different site.
In the fall of 2014 during deer season, I had a new trail camera out that I felt wasn’t taking good pictures. I just knew it was missing some, and I decided to put out a second one at that spot, right beside the first one. My fears were confirmed as I got a nice buck picture on the old camera that my new device had not captured. So I left them both in place while I played with the settings to try to fine tune the new unit.
On Remembrance day, as I headed back to the woods after working a second job I hold down to fund things like my hunting obsession, I found that both of those cameras were stolen from my site. The new one was in a lock box and screwed to a tree, and they used a crowbar to pry it off while I was off working. The other one was just tied around the tree.
At the end of deer season, I hunted until dark that Saturday evening and headed off again to my second job, working overnight. The next morning I headed back to my area after work to pick up my hang-on treestand and climbing sticks but somebody had beaten me to it. Again they were gone. The cable locks that I had around them had been chopped off, evidenced by an axe mark in the tree.
These thefts have been reported to the RCMP but I don’t expect they will ever be recovered.
I have gone through a range of emotions since I found out my cams were stolen, beginning with rage but now it's mostly disappointment. Disappointment that the thieves have stolen more than something material from me. They had stolen my sense of excitement over the deer season, and absolutely ruined my day. They've also stolen my sense that the fraternity of hunters and fishers are an upstanding group of sportsmen (and women) that care about each other and the game we chase. Since I had my first trail camera stolen in September 2013 during moose season, I've started putting lock boxes and cable locks on things... but it appears they just might slow them down a bit. I have met so many nice men and women through my pursuit of the outdoors but it appears we are no better than the general population. When I found that I had those cameras stolen I felt like I have been punched in the stomach. It was even worse when I had my treestand and ladder taken.
I was raised in a loving home and taught to treat others the way I would like to be treated. I am trying to raise my only son the same way. When we go into the woods, we respect game laws, we always pick up other people's trash, we chase our game with honour, we are kind to those that we meet, and we would never ever take something that is not ours. In spite of these thefts, I will never change any of that.
I will never understand the motivation for someone to take something that is not theirs. How can you look your neighbour in the eye knowing that you may have taken something of theirs? What could ever justify that disrespect?
Out on the World Wide Web, there is a good chance there are some people that come to our site who have done exactly the same and stolen someone else's property. There may even be one of the thieves reading this article right now.
Allow me to end with one last thought. To the thieves out there, whether those who have stolen my things or others, to those who litter our woods with trash, and to those who would poach and kill something out of season and against our game laws... I hold no malice toward you. I wish that you would change your ways or perhaps take up a different hobby and stay away from our woods and streams as you have no business calling yourself a sportsman.
In your wilderness adventures this year, if you come upon my equipment (or anyone else's)... please just leave it alone and move on past. If everyone shows that same respect, this problem can be a thing of the past. “Do unto others...”
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