Several years ago, a friend and I were fishing a popular walleye lake when a lone fisherman in a dilapidated boat pulled up nearby and dropped a line.

Fishing was very good that day, and the walleyes were snapping the jig-and-minnow combos we dangled in front of them about 18 feet below the boat; the wait between bites wasn’t very long.

The lone fisherman who pulled up nearby was having similar luck, and within half an hour or less, he’d boxed up as many walleyes as he could legally keep that day.

The phone call he made confirmed it.

“I got my limit,” we heard him proudly exclaim to someone before reeling up and heading back to shore.

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Content to enjoy the day and the fast action, my fishing partner and I were having more fun releasing walleyes than keeping walleyes. Action like that, after all, is meant to be savored because it doesn’t always happen that way.

Still, something about the fisherman in the old boat seemed fishy – for lack of a better word – to me.

“You wait,” I said to my fishing partner. “He’ll be back out here before the day is over.”

Known in the lingo as “double dipping” or “double tripping,” keeping two limits in the same day is illegal. Anglers in North Dakota are allowed a possession limit that is twice their daily limit, but they can’t catch that possession limit in one day. Minnesota has no possession limit for most species – only a daily limit.

My hunch that day proved correct. Not only did the lone fisherman come back, he was back within 45 minutes and soon had reeled in yet another limit.

Long story short, a quick phone call alerted authorities to the double-dipper, and he was intercepted back at the parking lot with two limits of walleyes in the cooler. That turned out to be a very expensive fishing trip.

The story from that day on the water has come up several times over the years and makes a strong case for the importance of giving game wardens (as they’re called in North Dakota) or conservation officers (as they’re known in Minnesota) a helping hand by reporting obvious violations.

Wardens and conservation officers have huge territories to cover, and help from the public can be crucial to prosecuting poaching incidents. In North Dakota, the public can alert authorities to hunting and fishing violations by calling the Report All Poachers (RAP) hotline at (701) 328-9921. In Minnesota, the public can call the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at (800) 652-9093 or key in #TIP on their cellphones.

In both cases, callers can remain anonymous and receive cash rewards for information that leads to a conviction.

There have been some flagrant poaching incidents this fall, most recently near Casselton, N.D., where the Game and Fish Department is seeking information on a deer that was shot and left at the Cass County Wildlife Club gun range. No meat was taken from the young “button buck” during the incident, which occurred sometime the evening of Oct. 15 or early Oct. 16, according to a post on the Game and Fish Department Facebook page.

In early October, a cow moose was shot and left in a field near Tolley, N.D., which is northwest of Minot. “The cow was shot several times with a shotgun and birdshot while possibly being chased by a vehicle,” the department reported on its Facebook page. No meat was taken in that case, either.

Meanwhile, in northwest Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Ben Huener of Roseau recently followed up on reports of deer shot and left in fields in three different locations in Roseau and Marshall counties, the DNR reported Monday, Oct. 18, in its weekly enforcement report.

In each case, hopefully someone out there saw something.

Whether it’s keeping too many fish or egregiously shooting a deer or moose and leaving it to lay, poaching is a crime. It’s basically stealing from all of us who enjoy the great outdoors, whether we hunt and fish or simply enjoy watching wildlife.

Think about that, the next time you’re out and about and see something that doesn’t look right. Making that phone call to report a known or suspected violation is a quick, easy way all of us can do our part to ensure fish and wildlife are there for us to enjoy, both now and in the future.

Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken