As deer seasons open across the country, if you hunt public land, you need to be on the lookout for pot gardens, which authorities refer to as “illegal cartel marijuana grows.”
California has the most of these illicit operations. In an ominous announcement, DEA Agents and California Game Wardens say a cartel “owns” every national forest, national park, state park and wildlife refuge in the state.
Marijuana grows have been found in 23 states and on 72 national forests. Other states with significant cartel gardens on national forests, parks and BLM lands include Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Wisconsin. Farther east and south, the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky is known to have lots of illicit pot growing.
As authorities point out, this is big business. Larger pot grows are in excess of 1,000 plants per site, and some can go up to 200,000 plants. Each plant has a street value of over a million dollars. Illicit growers protect their crops. And early fall, before temperatures drop to freezing, is prime harvest time.
You need to be on your toes and aware of your surroundings as you scout and hunt for deer on public land. Most of the growers are heavily armed and trails leading to grows are frequently booby trapped with trip wires and punji pits. Also, growers are now using deadly illegal chemicals to grow their pot, and these pose a serious threat to an innocent hunter who stumbles across them.
What do you look for? How do you avoid a potentially dangerous encounter?
Authorities point out that most pot gardens are irrigated by black plastic irrigation pipes that carry water from up to a half mile away. You might spot a man-made pool or a small dam on a stream where chemicals are added. These criminals are trashy. If you spot lots of junk, propane tanks, old tarps, etc. in an area, be on red alert.
You can also detect marijuana plants by their odor, which can have a skunky smell.
You may overhear voices, typically speaking Spanish. Law enforcement notes that some 85% of all growers they catch are illegals.
In all these cases, quietly retreat and retrace your trail back to your vehicle. Don’t linger at the site, or touch anything that looks out of the ordinary. When you are safely out of the woods, call 911 with the location of the illegal grow.
Be careful out there and good luck.
Source: The Outdoor Wire