Three people have been caught on camera stealing deer stands in woodland near Duluth.
Wearing handkerchiefs over their nose and mouths in an attempt to obscure their identities, the trio were caught on a hunter's trail camera removing three stands near Observation Road.
The theft actually happened last month, on Sept. 11, but it wasn't reported until this past week because it's the first time the stand owner had gone back to check on their cameras.
Duluth Police Department released images of the three people thought to be responsible in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Duluth PD property crimes unit on 218-730-5160.
Deer stand thefts are a thing
This particular incident is not an isolated occurrence, the theft of deer stands is a serious concern for many hunters, with Real Tree saying thousands of hunters are affected by it every season across the country.
Bowhunter reports that in most cases they are stolen by other hunters, either because the stands are valuable or because they're jealously guarding a patch of hunting land. It's been known for anti-hunting activists to steal them too.
And the magazine notes that it's not often spoken of in hunting circles for fear of "casting a negative light on hunting," with some victims not even reporting thefts to law enforcement.
“Hunters often don’t file a complaint because they feel foolish or believe that nothing can be done about it,” said Michigan DNR Conservation Officer (CO) Bobbi Lively told Bowhunter. “They also make it too easy for other hunters to steal their stands.”
Summit Stands recommends marking your hunting stand, ideally in a place thieves won't notice, so that if it's stolen, authorities can easily identify it.
It also suggests placing the tree stand deeper into the woods, noting that many stand thefts are "crimes of opportunity," so the harder it is to get to, the better.
Chaining it to the tree and securing it with a padlock will also help deter thieves.