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Prepping & Survival

Conservation Dog Helps Bust Poachers Who Killed 2 Hen Turkeys with a .22

On Saturday Miami County sheriff’s deputies, a Kansas game warden, and his black Labrador retriever K9 officer named Indy worked together to bust three men who had poached multiple turkeys off private property in Miami County with .22-caliber rifles from a vehicle.

Around 6 p.m., a landowner in Miami County contacted the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to report a group of men poaching turkeys off his property from a vehicle parked on the road, KDWP responding game warden Mitch Falls tells Outdoor Life. MCSO responded to the scene to discover the vehicle belonging to the poachers parked nearby. Falls responded with his 2-year-old K-9 partner, Indy, shortly thereafter. The officers located two men, one of whom had shot two turkeys — a tom and a hen — with a .22-caliber rifle from the passenger seat of the car. 

“Essentially, some guys were driving down the road, they saw some turkeys, the passenger shot turkeys from the vehicle with a rifle,” Falls says.

Falls seized three .22s, an air rifle, and the two poached turkeys and arrested the shooter for multiple wildlife violations. None of the men had valid licenses or tags, which only added to the laundry list of other infractions the group committed, Falls says, which includes killing turkeys with a rifle, hunting from the road, hunting from a vehicle, and killing animals on private property without permission.

But the day wasn’t quite over. Once the scene had mostly cleared and the deputies took the shooter to jail, Falls sent Indy on an area search for any more evidence that might have gotten overlooked. Shortly after Indy ran into the woods, a third suspect emerged from the area with his hands up in surrender. Falls arrested the suspect, who another deputy took to jail. Only when Indy returned to the woods again did he discover another hen turkey near where the third man had been discovered.

The suspects’ identities are not being released to the public at this time, nor is it clear exactly what penalties are in store for the men if convicted.

This wasn’t Indy’s first bust in Miami County this month, either. In the second week of April, Falls and Indy responded to reports of an out-of-season turkey hunt. Indy sniffed out multiple pieces of evidence, including a plastic .410 wad from the shot that killed one of the two turkeys in question. Charges are pending against the two suspected poachers, whose identities have not yet been released publicly.

Read Next: Kreed the Conservation Dog Is a Poacher’s Worst Nightmare

KDWP has been running its K9 program for 22 years. Conservation dogs go through extremely rigorous training to become effective at sniffing out human scent, gunpowder, wildlife carcasses, and other clues. 

“They’re looking for any items that humans have touched and handled, KDWP game warden Jacob Brooke told Outdoor Life in October 2023. “Your cell phone, your wallet, anything that’s been handled a little bit and has scent on it,” he says. “Then we train on burnt gunpowder residue, shells or casings, guns, things people leave behind. [Poachers] don’t always pick up their spent casings.”

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