Baiting once again a problem

Posted on: November 16, 2016 | Bob Frye | Comments

Pennsylvania-poachingPennsylvania Game Commission photo
Poachers are always looking for an edge, especially when it comes to whitetails.

It’s a season of plenty. Let’s get that out of the way.

In a recent press release, Pennsylvania Game Commission forestry division chief Dave Gustafson said there’s a lot of food on the landscape for wildlife. Red oak acorns in particular are available in “epic” numbers, he said.

“It’s the biggest crop we’ve seen since 2001, which was one of the most-abundant red-oak acorn crops in memory,” Gustafson said.

He was talking about how that will impact bear season in particular – bears sign across the state has been plentiful in areas with lots of red oaks, apparently – but all wildlife feasts on acorns.

Some other foods are at least regionally abundant, too. From white oak acorns to apples, there are choices for hungry critters.

And yet some people – not hunters, not sportsmen – have still been trying to use food to cheat.

A look at the notes of wildlife conservation officers around the region shows that baiting cases have again this fall been prevalent and problematic.

Things got rolling in the wrong direction right from the start, too.

Somerset County wildlife conservation officer Shawn Barron charged two people with hunting through the use of bait on the very first day of the statewide archery deer season. Later he arrested two people for hunting over bait on Fairchance Water Authority property in Fayette County.

Another Somerset County officer, Brian Witherite, filed charges against another man who was hunting over bait while also under the influence of alcohol. He was drinking beer in his tree stand and failed a standard field sobriety test.

Westmoreland County officer Mike Papinchak cited a man for hunting over bait, too – a man who had earlier called about a baiter putting out corn.

One of his deputies, meanwhile, Stan Marchlewski, was on foot patrol in Murrysville when he came across a man in a stand directly above one pile of corn, with another just 20 feet away. When he was questioned, the individual said “you caught me,” Papinchak said. Charges have been filed against him, too.

Elsewhere in Westmoreland, officer Bill Brehun is prosecuting three Ligonier Township teens who each killed a buck over bait during archery season.

In Greene County, officer Jeremy Febinger has had multiple baiting cases. In one, he charged a man with hunting through the use of bait and unlawfully killing a deer during closed season after he was found shooting a spike buck over a pile of corn.

In what turned into the most dangerous case of baiting, an individual is facing multiple charges after discharging a crossbow bolt that struck a house in New Sewickley Township. According to Beaver County officer Mike Yeck, “the bolt lodged into the eaves of a porch roof, missing the homeowner by less than 15 feet.”

The shooter had been using salt and corn to draw deer in, Yeck said.

Of course, there have been other violations this fall, too.

Three men in Indiana County are facing charges for killing a trophy-class buck that scored 121, said officer Chris Reidmiller. Barron is prosecuting an adult and juvenile for killing two antlerless deer unlawfully during the first week of archery deer season. The adult killed both by firing a crossbow from inside his vehicle; the youth assisted by holding a flashlight.

In another case, poor driving led to trouble for a couple of poachers.

According to Brehun, state police stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation. The trooper noticed the occupants were spotlighting after hours with a loaded rifle in their vehicle.

An investigation turned up four unlawfully taken bucks, two taken that night and two taken in October.

Score one for the good guys.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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