Monday, December 17, 2007

Profile of a Jacklighter

Jacklighters come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and occupations however the majority of jacklighters I have encountered in over two decades of conservation work fit within the following profile.

Age - Early twenties to mid thirties
Sex - Male
Occupation - Construction/ Industrial Laborer

Motivation - To kill something!
Target - Any Deer

Common Denominator - ALCOHOL!!!

In all the night shooting cases that I was involved with in my time with the PGC only once did I have a case where alcohol was not present! Alcohol lubricates business and it also steels the nerve of the jacklighter.

Jacklighters seldom work alone, usually two or more individuals are involved in the violation as one of these escapades requires that many task be accomplished. Driving, shinning the light, looking for deer, and shooting; not to mention watching out for the Game Warden! Although the shooters are typically male it is not unusual for a woman to be present. Typically it is a girl friend and it is not at all unusual for his wife to be sitting at home not knowing what her husband is up to. Typically the group will number two to three but I have encountered as many as six participants in a singe case.

Jacklighters are a wary group and are usually on guard for anything out of place. At the least sign of trouble they will typically flee at the highest rate of speed they can muster, frequently tossing the weapon out the window the first time the following officers headlights looses contact with their vehicle. The typical rifle used is a cheap Marlin .22 Magnum with a cheap scope. This makes for a disposable weapon whose cost is much less than the cost of the fines if caught.

As I stated earlier any deer is the typical target and to that most kill does and fawns. The methods of retrieval vary as some will immediately drive into the field and load while others will flee the area and return later when things have quieted down. Others kill for killings sake and could care less about the dead or injured deer they leave behind.

Over the years we often heard hunters complaining about the spotlighters killing all of the big bucks. There is no doubt that a few poachers do exclusively target large bucks however they are a select group and usually are the most experienced and illusive of all the night poachers. A few of this group hunts for antlers only and will quickly decapitate a buck and flee the area leaving the headless carcass for the vultures to find the next day.

The above photograph was taken during a nightcase a few years ago. Three individuals spent New Years Eve on a deadly shooting spree. As was usual they were using a Marlin .22 magnum and had killed two fawns by the time one of my fellow officers apprehended them. A local resident had reported their activity and had given headquarters a very good description of the vehicle. Even with the rifle, spotlight, and two dead deer the suspects tried very hard to convince us that the deer had been taken legally in Maryland. As the hour was quite late and rigor had not yet stiffened the deer’s bodies, we were not about to be easily convinced.

Sadly not all cases end this way, usually the poachers get away………..


Cape Cod Washashore said...

The profile you've given is precisely what I would have expected. I'm going to show this post to my Dad. Thanks, Salty!

dot said...

Very interesting post. I like that profile.

photowannabe said...

Fascinating information. Its certainly a whole other world to me. Your profile doesn't surprise me at all.

Anonymous said...

I think it is good to catch these people.

Willard said...

That officer to the left is me, "Ole Pap" Hill on the next to last arrest of my career.

I seldom felt any sympathy with a violator and these were the worst of the worst. It always felt good to make a grab such as this!

All of the men that I worked with started calling me "Pap" after a much older man than I called me that during a conversation about a law violation. I thought it was humorous and they did too, so that became my nickname during my last two years of work.

smilnsigh said...

Damn 'em!!!

Btw, I tried what you wondered about... cropping the bronze angel, closely. And added it to that entry. :-)

I know, I don't do well with all this stuff,yet. But I will keep trying.


Gabriella said...

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Send my wishes to Mrs. Salty as well!

Tom said...

I've never heard the term a 'Jacklighter'... but I do like it. As for the profile it is not a surprise at all. It fit's a lot of trouble makers in many walks of life.

Great post, not what I was expecting.. but then 'Keep um Keen' comes to mind.

Meggie said...

It seems to me that alcohol is the common denominator in lots of havoc. Such low lifes......!!!