3 days in the life of a conservation officer during deer season


The author checks the tags on a harvested deer

On the third day, my partner and I planned to run our decoy operation in one location in the morning, then a different locale in the evening. During the morning, only law-abiding hunters drove by, which was good to see, but again, we wanted to catch some lawbreakers. That evening, our luck changed after we set up the decoy off a fairly remote dead-end road with very little traffic.

Along the road was a quarter section of farmland, properly posted on all the corners and approaches, one of which was at the end of the road. There was absolutely no way a hunter could miss seeing the “No Hunting” sign from there, making it a perfect place for the decoy. Again, the goal is to never trick a law-abiding hunter into making a mistake; the goal is to catch those deliberately breaking the law.


Right at sunset, a vehicle drove down the road, into the approach and onto the posted field. They saw our decoy, and the passenger took a shot at it. Once they realized it wasn’t a real deer and started to drive away, we moved in with our lights flashing and apprehended them. The driver had a loaded firearm with him in the vehicle, and he wasn’t carrying his hunting licence. And when I questioned the passenger on why he shot at the decoy, he said they’d been driving around all day and hadn’t seen many deer. He admitted he saw the “No Hunting” sign, so he knew the land was posted, but decided to shoot anyway. And that, right there, is the type of person we’re after—people who don’t have respect for landowner rights, and who put everyone’s safety at risk.

Being a CO isn’t always glamorous, but catching the bad apples who give all hunters a bad name makes it all worth it

In the end, those two gentlemen had their firearms seized and they were fined a total of $990. In addition, each man faced a one-year suspension of his hunting licence once the fines were paid. On my way home after dealing with them, I stopped in to talk to the landowner and let him know what had taken place. To say he was happy we caught these guys on his land was an understatement, and it was rewarding to see his appreciation for the work we did.

And that’s how the first three days of my 2019 rifle deer season played out. With 15 more days to go, I knew it would be a long haul, and a grind. But knowing we were out there making a difference made it worth it.


Being a CO isn’t always glamorous—sometimes you find yourself elbow deep in the rotting carcass of a poached animal looking for a bullet. It isn’t always easy, either, especially when you have to tell your young kids that even though Daddy just got home, he has to go right back to work. And it can be tiring, too, especially when you have to get up at all hours of the night to start work or respond to a night-hunting call. But when you catch the bad apples who give all hunters a bad name, it makes it all worth it.

It’s a career I wouldn’t trade for anything.