JEFFERSON COUNTY, Okla. – Oklahoma game wardens caught some poachers using their eye in the sky.
Game wardens have been using airplane surveillance for decades to catch spotlighters in rural counties.
The plane helps them see across several miles of Oklahoma’s landscape.
And, while out circling above a few counties on Friday, game wardens managed to catch three hunters illegally killing deer.
“Couldn’t quite pin point exactly where the light was at, so he requested the plane fly over and they found them,” said Captain Wade Farrar with department of wildlife.
He says this is something they do on a routine basis, and that wardens on the ground used a radio to communicate with plane and pinpoint the locations of poachers in rural counties.
“There were three different individuals and three different bucks they killed. All the bucks had been shot after night with the use of handheld lights and the UTVs,” Farrar said.
The poachers were using spotlights while on ATVs and UTVs to kill the deer.
Not only were they hunting illegally, but the hunters tried to hide several guns and a bag of ammunition from game wardens.
Farrar says it’s dangerous. The latest you can legally shoot a deer is 30 minutes after sunset.
“Anytime anyone is out shining a spotlight at night, shooting a gun is going to travel much farther than that light is going to let them see. It`s definitely a big safety concern,” he said.
With this being opening weekend of rifle season, Farrar says poaching usually starts to increase, so the plane comes in handy to have eyes on the ground and in the sky.
But, he encourages people to always be on the lookout for them – if you see something suspicious, say something.
“This time of the year, this is something the game wardens are, practically every night of our lives, is spent in the field looking for spotlight activity. It`s what we get hired to do,” he said.
The three poachers were issued citations for hunting with the aid of a motorized vehicle, headlighting and possession of wildlife illegally taken. The deer meat was also donated to local families in need.