Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Imagine hauling your boat to your favorite lake and going fishing and after fishing you simply pull your boat to shore and tie it to a tree. You leave your tackle boxes in the boat as well as your fishing poles and other gear. You simply take your cooler of fish and go home. A few days later you return, jump in your boat and go fishing again. No one stole any of your gear or vandalized your boat. In fact it is just the way you left it.

Imagine parking your vehicle along the road on a busy highway and you and your hunting partners hike off into the mountains to go hunting. You pack in all your gear and spend the next week in the wilderness hunting. When you return tired and weary from hunting in the mountains you find your vehicle just the way you left it including the extra gear you stashed in the back of your truck.

Wouldn’t that be great if we could do that each time we went hunting or fishing? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot less hassle if we did not have to haul our boats and gear home from the water every time we left? Wouldn’t it be great if we could safely leave our vehicles any place and not have to worry about them being vandalized or things stole? Wouldn’t it be great if EVERYONE respected the property of others and didn’t even think of messing with it?

Most of you know better then to even think about leaving anything of value in your boat or vehicle because of all the dishonest thieves who are constantly on the prowl. Our newspapers regularly report vehicles vandalized and items stolen through out Alaska each year. A few years ago vehicles were broken into on a regular basis on Skilak loop road while people were hiking or fishing parts of the Kenai River. Several vehicles have also had their windows smashed on the end of the north road while people were traveling into their cabins or simply hunting.

Imagine how disappointing it must be to hike back out to your vehicle and find the windows smashed and several items of yours stolen. I think all of us outdoors people can work together and learn to watch out for each other. Anytime you go to an area where there are other vehicles, jot down the license plate numbers of the other vehicles. Who knows that might be the tip that helps get your stuff recovered or someone else’s. If you see people hanging around these areas that don’t seem to be hunting or fishing, snap a picture of them. It might be enough to simply discourage them from committing an act of vandalism or theft. I’m sure it will at least startle them if they are thinking about committing a crime.

The best thing to do of course is not to leave your vehicle there and have someone drop you off, however, in cases of emergency it sure is nice to have your vehicle there if you need it. Sad to think we sometimes have to forgo the convenience factor and choose a different option to keep our vehicles from being vandalized and things stolen in certain areas.

Several years ago I solved a rash of fishing tackle thefts that occurred in the West Central area of Wisconsin simply by observing a couple of young boys gear on several occasions. Each time they had a different tackle box or different expensive poles. I knew both boys and knew neither had a job so I knew they had to be stealing them. Then I saw an elderly neighbor man had a $50 reward in the paper leading to the arrest and recovery of his tackle box. I also knew both these boys had been fishing on the lake where the theft occurred. I then contacted the police department and told them who the thieves were and when they picked the boys up for questioning they admitted to it.

Neither of these two boys had very much parental supervision which tends to explain why they had so much freedom and basically went unnoticed whenever they arrived or left the house. Could your children bring 14 fishing poles to your home and you not get suspicious? Do you know where your children are and what they are doing on a daily basis?

On a break-in at my archery shop a few years ago the police recovered my cash register in front of a home where one of the boys who was convicted of the robberies lived. The cash register had the cord cut off it and it lay out in front of the parent’s home. Wouldn’t you think the parents would want to know where it came from? What kind of parent would allow this to go on right under their noses? If your son showed up with a cash register what would you do?

Living in Alaska is a wonderful experience for many of us, however there are several other types of people living here that make enjoying the great outdoors more difficult then it should be. Besides the vandals and thieves living amongst us we also have those who trash our wilderness with several destructive methods. Either by tearing up the terrain by mud bogging or trashing a place by leaving their trash behind. I have enjoyed countless hours in the Alaska wilderness and have always tried to leave my camping or fishing areas cleaner then they were before I arrived. Taking pride in your camp is something we all need to do a better job at and also let those you meet out there know when they are trashing our wilderness.

With winter fast approaching take a few minutes to do a trash patrol at your favorite lake, campground or picnic area. Help keep our wilderness area clean wherever you chose to enjoy it. Teach all members of your hunting and fishing adventures just how serious we Alaskans are about keeping our land clean! See you next week?

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