CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you talk to deer hunters, as I do, you'll eventually hear someone gripe about shooting a deer and losing it because someone else swooped in and claimed the carcass.
It's an unethical practice, and one that seems to happen disturbingly often.
And not just in West Virginia.
Twice this week, hunters in other states have killed deer only to have their venison vanish.
My friend J.R. Absher, who compiles outdoor news tidbits on his website, The Outdoor Pressroom, had accounts of both incidents.
The first, in Oregon, followed the classic pattern. A hunter killed a deer. He field-dressed it and left it to fetch a cart so he could wheel it out of the woods. While he was gone, someone swiped the carcass.
A news account in the Lebanon (Ore.) Press said the incident was being investigated by the Oregon State Police. In Oregon, state troopers double as game wardens.
Investigating officer Kirk Burkholder said that during his five-year law enforcement career, he'd never investigated a case like it - so apparently deer theft isn't as prevalent in the Beaver State as it is in ol' Wild and Wunnerful.
The Oregon Hunters' Association, under the state's Turn-in-Poachers program, is offering a $250 reward for information leading to the thief.
The second case didn't follow any of the usual scripts. A New York sportsman killed a deer, field-dressed it, dragged it out of the woods, took it home, hung it up, skinned it, and left it on his porch overnight to cool.
According to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, a Department of Environmental Conservation officer was conducting interviews in a nearby community - on an unrelated case, no less - when he came across the deer's carcass.