According to the New Jersey Bureau of Wildlife Management, the average hunter spends more than $700 on travel and equipment for each deer he kills legally. Poaching deer is cheaper, and profitable. Poached venison is vastly less expensive than beef, pork or lamb bought at inflated supermarket prices, but it is going up, too.
One Pennsylvania poacher, who kills deer to fill orders and has been doing so for a quarter of a century, used to get $10 for a deer of average size. Now his price has gone up to $15. "Where else can you buy 90 pounds of meat for $15?" he asks. Since September, he estimates, he has killed 40 deer and either eaten or sold the lot.
The reason the poacher succeeds where the honest hunter fails is that the poacher is undeterred by laws regulating seasons, he hunts at night by jacklight and, in New Jersey for example, he has to contend with a mere 35 wardens policing three million acres of deer range. Poaching with powerful flashlights is so easy in some areas, conservation officers have demonstrated, that a deer can be spotted every three or four minutes. Fines, usually $100 to $300 for first offense, are too trivial a deterrent.
Confiscation of weapons might be a partial answer, but that is not yet on the lawbooks.
HIGH PRICE OF MUSCLE
It has a strange sound, coming from the executive director of the Canadian Football League Players' Association, but Gerry Patterson, who also is agent for many individual athletes, says that management in professional sport should take steps to halt the upward spiraling salaries of players.
The average player's salary in the National Hockey League, Patterson said at a Toronto sports seminar, is approaching $42,000, and in the National Football League it is $28,000, in the Canadian Football League $16,000, in the National Basketball Association $50,500, in major league baseball $32,000.
"My personal opinion is that salaries are going to have to level off and I think we're approaching that point now," said Patterson. "I do think we all have to consider what is happening to sport generally with this high level.
"Profit is not a four-letter word. We have to have clubs making money to have sports continue at a profitable level."