Hunting whitetail deer is a popular pastime, and for a while four hunters from Massachusetts may have felt it was too good to be true in Bradford and Tioga counties of Pennsylvania.
But then an unidentified sportsman stepped in and, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, started the process that brought down the Massachusetts Four, resulting in fines of $20,500.
The chase began Oct. 5, the first day of archery season, when Bradford County Wildlife Conservation Officer Bill Bower was approached by a sportsman who had come across a white-tailed deer with only the hind quarters and loins removed.
The sportsman was able to provide a description of a vehicle that he thought might have carried the hunter or hunters involved, and an investigation began.
Preliminary work by Bowers found that several similar violations had occurred in his district as well as that of Wildlife Conservation Officer Steve Gehringer in Tioga County. Further work led Bower and Gehringer to focus their investigation on four hunters who were staying in a rented trailer at a campground in Bradford County.
During the next several days, more than seven officers carried out surveillance in unmarked vehicles and by the fifth day they had enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for the trailer.
Inside the trailer, officers found a refrigerator filled with deer meat as well as a large cooler packed with ice and venison. The venison included hind quarters, loins, hearts and livers matching the remains of whitetail carcasses found in the field.
Officers also found a coded list of remote locations where deer were killed and their locations marked by white paper towels attached to tree limbs so the hunters could return later to retrieve the deer.
One of the vehicles used by the hunters was wired so that three spotlights could be used at one time.
In all, the four men were found guilty of 41 counts of unlawful taking or possession of wildlife.
James C. McCallum of Holland, Mass., was fined $5,500 and Arnold R. Burlingame of Charlton, James A. Pechie of Auburn and Dennis W. Divoll of Charlton City each was fined $5,000.
F: Maryland's catch-a-poacher hot line is (800) 635-6124.
With cold weather cranking in, those who overnight in tents while hunting, fishing or hiking might keep in mind the following:
Keep insulation between you and the ground. Before setting up your tent, put down a ground cloth -- a tarp folded over works well -- to keep the tent bottom from contact with the moist or frozen earth. If possible, spread a thick layer of leaves or pine needles beneath the ground cloth, but be careful to eliminate sharp twigs that might puncture fabric. Inside the tent, beneath your sleeping bag, spread at least one heavy blanket folded over or insulated sleeping pad. Two blankets or two pads will work even better.
Site your tent carefully. Low areas trap moisture and colder air. Ridges will expose you and the tent to the effects of wind. A raised area in the lee of a ridge works very well, especially if trees or boulders provide an additional windbreak.
Dress warmly, even at night. Remember, the camper warms the sleeping bag. The tendency is to snuggle down into the sleeping bag when the temperature drops, but this can be counterproductive because the moisture from your
breathing will condense and dampen the bag. Wear a hat to bed -- knit caps work well -- because most of the heat the body loses escapes from the head. Wear long underwear or a sweat suit, but avoid overdressing, which will cause night sweats and loss of body heat once the sleeping bag gets wet.
Keep the tent warm and dry. A properly closed tent may add up to 10 degrees of heat inside it. But until you are ready to go to sleep it may be better to leave a door or window slightly open to prevent excess condensation inside the tent.
In the America's Cup next spring, protests of right-of-way will be decided on the water as the racing continues by the members of an international jury, who will follow the racing boats around the course.
The judges selected by the America's Cup Organizing Committee are Goran Petersson, (chairman) of Sweden, Bertrand de Speville of Hong Kong, John Ripard of Malta, Livius Sherwood of Canada and Bryan Willis of the United Kingdom.
On another Cup tack, challengers will have until Jan. 24 to name the boat they plan to sail in the selection series and the America's Cup match. The San Diego Yacht Club, representing the defenders groups, had asked that challengers name their boats by Dec. 20.
Bass Masters Classic
In case you missed it the first time around, the highlights of the Bass Masters Classic, which was held in the tributaries of the Upper Chesapeake Bay in August, will be telecast again by the Nashville Network on cable television Dec. 8 at 1 and 10 p.m.
Sorry, still no word on where the Classic will be held next year, although Maryland still appears to be in contention.