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They'll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It's the sport not the rabbits they're after (we've plenty of game in the park).
Don't hang them or cut off their fingers. That's wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.

(from) Norman and Saxon Rudyard Kipling

Basic Information

The crime of poaching involves the theft - usually by hunting - of game animals. One who poaches is technically referred to as a poacher, whether they do so for leisure or profit - or, indeed, by way of disputing the alleged owner's property rights.

Given that in many jurisdictions, hunting rights are an important status symbol and reserved to the nobility, poaching is often subject to what would appear to be disproportionate levels of punishment and surprisingly oppressive laws designed to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Into the modern era, poaching can also take the form of offences against laws protecting endangered species.

Not to be confused with the cooking technique as applied to eggs, fruit and similar things.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Characters from a jurisdiction where hunting is a common liberty could well get themselves into serious trouble in one where it is a privilege of the great and allegedly good. This can also be a values dissonance issue for players.
  • Poaching is also quite a good background for an outdoorsman character - somewhat more disreputable that an origin as a gamekeeper.
  • Despite the often draconian penalties, many places tolerate low level pilfering of small game - few gamekeepers, for example, care much for the unlicensed removal of rabbits from the estate, but getting into the pheasants will probably attract their attention and poaching deer will provoke a very serious response indeed. As a result, there is likely to be a villager known as a low level procurer of small game for his neighbours and, unless the estate is very strict, he will generally be tolerated as a minor nuisance and expected to raise the alarm if interlopers start to trespass on his territory.
  • The poaching of large game - elephants for example - can be much more game worthy. In the modern era, it is fairly straightforward game wardens vs. villainous poachers but in the colonial era (for example) novels such as Shout at the Devil focus on game poaching almost as a form of cattle-raiding.
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