In September, a farmer in Richland County was saving his crops by filling DNR ag tags. Richland County has 200 deer per square mile when there should only be a few. He was dealing with herds up to 50 deer in his field. Some trophy hunting neighbors reported him. He was subsequently surveilled by wardens hiding on his land. He was arrested and handcuffed. His guns were confiscated. He now faces over $2,000 in fines.

This farmer lost as much as $20,000 per year, totaling $100,000 in the last five years. He has never taken money from the state to cover his loss. In the last 30 years, he has allowed at least 10 hunters a year to hunt. When you add the hunting licenses and the crop loss that the state didn’t have to cover, he has benefitted the state about $110,000.

He was treated like a criminal. Many farmers have experienced the same treatment giving up using ag tags. Neighbors wanting big bucks reported them. This situation must be changed and the farmers who make a living must be made a priority. If there are too many deer, the state should bring the numbers down, even using sharpshooters on the farmers land to do this.

I urge all who care about the billions generated by farming in the state to call the DNR and legislators to change rules so that struggling farmers can save their crops. We need to stop catering to big buck hunters.

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