Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Deer Dogging' Feud Escalates Two Charged with Illegal Hunting in Ozarks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`Deer Dogging' Feud Escalates Two Charged with Illegal Hunting in Ozarks

Article excerpt

A crackdown on the Ozark practice of "deer dogging," unleashing hounds in the woods to chase out deer, has resulted in charges against a state trooper and a former police officer.

The charges filed this week are the latest escalation of a feud simmer ing between Ozark residents and conservation agents over a popular, but illegal, form of hunting.

Dogs are used to chase deer toward hunters, waiting along the back roads of the Mark Twain National Forest. Some hunters use radio collars to track the dogs and two-way radios and four-wheel-drive vehicles to keep up with the chase.

Using dogs to hunt deer is illegal. Dogs are allowed in coyote hunting during the season, but that practice also is resulting in hard feelings of property owners who object to packs of dogs running across their land.

Jerry Presley, director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Friday he ordered more agents into the Ozarks because of a growing number of deer dogging complaints, especially in Ripley County, on the Arkansas border.

"There are a lot of people who won't get up in City Hall and object because they're afraid of repercussions," Presley said. "But that doesn't stop them from calling and writing me to complain."

Presley also said he has heard threats of "grudge fires" from residents who object to conservation agents telling them when and how they can hunt deer. Much of the Ozarks is state and federal property, and arson is a form of retaliation against government interference.

"It's getting volatile," Presley said. "But we can't let threats and intimidation stop us from doing what's proper."

The incident involving the law officers occurred Oct. 18 in Ripley County at a cabin on the Current River. The property is owned by Doniphan Mayor Larry Ponder. t

Several law officers were spending the week at the cabin, including Ponder's twin sons, Craig and Greg Ponder, authorities say. …

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