On a recent episode of the MeatEater podcast, I heard a story that really blew me away. It highlights the real problem that the culture of poaching has in remote parts of this country still today.
Brandon Butler owns property in Shannon County, Missouri, with a cabin he takes people hunting on. Brandon said he had reported locals road hunting before and was asked to let it go. After he let it go, he regretted it ever since. In November, he caught night time road hunters using spotlights to kill deer and turned them in. The locals threatened him on social media and in person.
On January 4th Brandon received a call that his cabin was burned to the ground. He drove 3 1/2 hours to his property, where he watched the last flames die out and all his hunting memories with it. Deer heads, turkey fans, paintings, and all his possessions were destroyed.
County sheriff Darrin Brawley confirmed the fire was set intentionally. “I hate to sound like a martyr, but I should have never thought we would find peace and harmony there,” Butler said in a telephone interview Jan. 14. “The locals are clannish, they live by their own rules, there’s no cell-phone service, and you’re 30 minutes from the nearest law-enforcement. The locals hate how the state park attracts people from the outside. They make it a point of pride to intimidate outsiders and protect their backwoods way of life. One person lit the match, but I blame their entire culture. People down there are celebrating what was done to me.”
Brandon pointed out on the MeatEater podcast that he has cameras everywhere, and the criminal will be arrested soon.
“I can build a new building, but that won’t make me whole,” Butler said. “I’ll hold onto the memories, but I’ll never again sit in my grandfather’s dinner chair. I’ll never again hold the muzzleloader I used to shoot my first deer. I’ll never again read the stories my guests wrote in the pages of the camp’s journal, and I’ll never again enjoy all my kids’ paintings in the collage over my bed.”
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