The deer season here in Western New York has recently ended but it will likely be the last for two "hunters" who were arrested. According to reports, the two illegally shot large bucks and posted the photos on social media.

The investigation began on Dec. 6, 2021, when ECO Mathis received information that two individuals had taken large bucks in the closed area of Erie County in the Town of Tonawanda. The suspects had posted videos of their hunts and photos of the deer on Facebook. A local wildlife photographer familiar with the poached deer met ECO Mathis and Tonawanda PD Officer Ansel in the area where the deer may have been shot.

This is upsetting on so many levels. As a person who has been hunting since I was 14, I have tried to respect and protect our right to hunt and follow the guidelines. Like so many other responsible hunters, it is stories like this one that really get under my skin. There are some who look at all hunters the way that most will look at these two idiots. There is no deer that is worth breaking the law for. Also, it is clear that these two are hunting for the wrong reasons. Too often deer hunting has become a competitive sport among other hunters. It has ruined the experience for so many who have given up on it.

But that is NOT the case for all hunters here in Erie County or around New York State. Hopefully a story like this will be a reminder to follow the rules, respect wildlife and not make hunting a "look at what I did" type of thing. Many of us who have kids are trying to pass on the tradition of hunting and conservation and teach them the how to be responsible hunters for years to come.

DEC encourages anyone who suspects environmental violations, including illegal hunting, to contact DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement 24-hour dispatch at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

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