MOREAU — Josh Warner was headed to a work appointment for his landscaping company earlier this week when he spotted a road into some state land off West River Road that he hadn’t seen before.
It led to a state boat launch on the Hudson River and a dead end with a gate at the end.
As he turned his vehicle around, he saw a deer carcass hanging off a guard rail toward the end of the road. And then he saw piles of plastic bags that contained parts of deer and what appeared to be more deer carcasses nearby. Bags of other garbage and furniture were piled in places as well.
By the time the Argyle resident had walked the length of the 100 yards or so along the road, he found remains of at least eight deer, including a three-point buck that appeared to have have been shot and gutted, but not butchered for its meat. It had been there no more than two days or so.
“It’s disgusting,” he said.
Warner posted a video on Facebook this week chronicling the remains along the road, perturbed at what appeared to be the wanton killing and waste of venison. It has attracted a lot of attention and a lot of outrage from the local community of sportsmen and women.
“It gives hunters a bad name,” said Queensbury resident Mike McGrath, a hunter who was among those who saw the video online.
Some of the deer were dumped intact, some in pieces in black plastic bags, and they appeared to have been left behind at varying times, based on the decomposition. Warner said some parts had been dragged away, likely by a predator like a coyote, between Wednesday and Thursday.
None of the deer had tags that are required if they were legally shot, and all but one of the deer appeared to be does, which are often illegal to shoot unless a hunter has a special tag or permit.
He called the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, which referred him to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Warner said he was told by the agency Wednesday that the matter was under investigation.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said Thursday that the inquiry was ongoing, and he asked that anyone with information in the case call the agency’s law enforcement dispatch at 518-408-5850.
Some speculated that the deer were roadkill that were left by highway departments, but Warner said he also contacted town and state officials to see if they were roadkill that would be legally dumped, but he was told that it was not a dump site for either.
The buck has what appears to be a gunshot wound to its chest and its abdomen was cut open, but had no other apparent injuries.
The vacant property had been the site of a staging facility for the PCB dredging project on the Hudson River in recent years.
Moreau Supervisor Gardner Congdon said the deer remains are on state property and he said the DEC officer investigating the dumping said it was “clearly illegal dumping.”
He said it will likely never be known whether the deer were shot legally, but the dumping was unsightly, unsportsmanlike and potentially a health hazard.
“This is somebody who is clearly irresponsible,” he said. “All it takes is one or two bad eggs to give hunters a bad name.”
McGrath said his deer hunting helps feed a friend’s family that is in need and relies on the venison, but apparent poaching like this reflects badly on hunters.
“My hunting supplies meat for two families,” he said.
Unfortunately, dump sites for illegally shot deer carcasses are not uncommon in the region this time of year. Poachers often leave behind what they don’t want on dead ends or in wooded areas. The end of Big Boom Road in Queensbury has been a frequent dumping site for years.
Hunters who have game that they do not intend to eat can donate it to the Venison Donation Coalition, which distributes the meat to food pantries, or bag it and throw it in the garbage for legal disposal.