BOOK REVIEW: Poachers Were My Prey

by Larry S. Moore

I received the new book, "Poachers Were My Prey," as a Christmas present. The book is a compilation of undercover investigations by the Division of Wildlife and Officer R. T. Stewart as told to outdoor writer Chip Gross. The story can be told now that Stewart has retired from the Division of Wildlife and the cases are long since closed. Gross is also retired from the Division of Wildlife.

Stewart was involved with the very first undercover operation conducted by the Division of Wildlife, Operation Clanbake. The book details not only the success of the operations but the close calls that almost revealed the identity of the officers. It describes the living conditions and environment encountered in dealing with the lawless poachers. Saying that those conditions were gritty and disgusting is a gross understatement.

I remember some of the operations since, as an outdoor writer, I received various press releases on the activity. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to view some of the undercover video. I've seen some takes of the undercover video from Operation Redbud. One night the poachers took a rifle but when they opened the door of the van to shoot a spotlighted deer, they only had one cartridge. The poacher proceeded to drop it out the door onto the running board. The cursing would curl your hair. They managed to retrieve the cartridge and still kill the deer. This story is related in detail in the book. I am amazed the early hidden video or audio equipment wasn't discovered by the poachers. Even later when the equipment and techniques were much improved, I am still amazed that Stewart wasn't detected.

I took special interest in some of the various locations where poaching activity took place. Hunters or fishermen may recognize some of the restaurants, bars or areas discussed. I certainly recognize the bar mentioned in Operation Clanbake. I believe it is still in operation today although I have no idea who may own it. Locations mentioned along the Lake Erie coast will almost certainly be familiar to those who fish there. You'll have to read the book to learn the names and facts. It is interesting that I have hunted or fished in areas at approximately the same time as the undercover operations were being conducted. Perhaps you have also crossed these paths.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife was a leader in developing undercover operations to infiltrate poaching rings. I am not talking about some hunter who may succumb to taking a deer after hours at some point. The operations focus on the poachers taking possibly thousands of animals illegally. Certainly the DMC poachers were very effective at their work. You'll have to read the book to find what the "DMC" means.

The book is captivating reading and a rare look into the world of wildlife undercover operations. It vividly brings the entire undercover operations to life from inception to take down. Only someone who has been there - done that - can tell the story this way. Stewart's presence combined with Gross's writing make the right combination to tell the story of poaching and busts in Ohio.

Copies of the book may be purchased online from, or Kent State University Press at (click on Black Squirrel Books). Copies are also available through your local book store.

Autographed copies may be obtained by sending a personal check or money order (payable to WORDsmith) in the amount of $26.75 to:

6108 Township Road 88
Fredericktown, OH 43019

Be sure include a note as to whom you would like your book(s) signed. For questions, Chip Gross may be contacted via email at [email protected].

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Foundation and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award, the 2007 League of Ohio Sportsmen/Ohio Wildlife Federation Hunter Educator of the Year and the 2010 National Wild Turkey Federation/ Women in the Outdoors Hunter Education Instructor of the Year.

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