MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
The body found sprawled in bloodied snow off Application Trail in Training Area 8 of Marine Corps Base Quantico had been shot, beheaded and skinned. The body cavity was still warm when authorities arrived at the scene in the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2013.
It was the carcass of a buck, shot with a rifle in an archery-only zone and most likely shot from the road. Along with the head, the backstrap — the choicest cut of meat — had also been removed.
“That’s the nastiest type of poaching there is,” said Euel Tritt, head of conservation law enforcement for the base. “What a waste. You’ve got 50 pounds of meat that the buzzards eat.”
It’s also an offense that carries heavy penalties and, in the case of a Marine, can end a career.
Two days later, an apparent turkey poaching was witnessed in Training Area 7 near Garrisonville Road, and a hunter left the gut pile from a deer in the parking lot of Ashurst Elementary School. Authorities are still working to determine whether the latter incident was also a poaching.
“The game wardens have been extremely busy this year,” Tritt said, adding that poaching and trespassing on the base “comes in waves. This year, it’s been a lot more than normal.”
The wardens are looking for any information the public might have about any of these incidents.
He said the buck poaching incident off Application Trail was especially dangerous, as The Basic School uses that area heavily for land navigation and physical training, which is why only archery is allowed there. “And the deer was shot from the road, which makes it even more dangerous.”
In the snow at the scene were the boot prints of two or three people, one of which was about a size 10 and another about a size 13, as well as tracks made by BF Goodrich all-terrain tires.
Hunters on the base are required to have a base hunting license and to check in and out at the game check station, and any kill also has to be checked out. Tritt said no hunters were checked into the area where the deer was killed, meaning the perpetrators were also trespassing.
It was another hunter who witnessed the apparent turkey poaching in the late morning of Dec. 12. He reported hearing a dog flush out turkeys near his tree stand, followed by a shot, Tritt said. When a man appeared to collect the turkey, he became suspicious and asked the man whether he was registered with the base. The man didn’t respond and instead hurried away with the bird.
Tritt said no one was checked in to hunt turkey in that area.
He said it was possible that the deer gutted in the Ashurst Elementary parking lot that night was shot off base. However, he said, “A school’s not a good place to be gutting a deer, even if it’s legal. That would be like me coming in your front yard and gutting a deer.”
Officers found a pair of rubber gloves and a cigarette butt at the scene. As the school is near base housing, Tritt guessed that someone likely saw something.
He noted that trespassing, poaching, failing to check game, illegally possessing game and shooting from the road, when perpetrated on federal property, are all federal crimes, and poaching offenses are punishable by up to a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. He said he has also seen Marines’ careers ended due to poaching charges.
“It can cost a whole lot of money, depending on the severity of the circumstances, and it can cost you your career,” he said.
Tritt asked that anyone with information about any of these or other illegal hunting incidents contact him at 703-784-5218 or email@example.com.
“And the reward?” he said. “The reward is doing the right thing.”
— Writer: firstname.lastname@example.org