A Hawke's Bay farmer believes "sooner or later somebody will be shot" if cowboy poachers continue to illegally hunt on his and nearby neighbours' land. Waitara Station farmer Lloyd Holloway, whose 1500ha property is off the Napier-Taupo highway, hopes the "picture of the joker" will be identified, as the dangers for people legally hunting on his land become life threatening.

"There have been groups of guys out there hunting deer and then some unknown person just whacks off a shot from somewhere," he said. "Sooner or later somebody will be shot ... it is becoming more and more dangerous all the time."

His neighbours were experiencing the same problems, as poachers would often trek about 4-5km deep into his property.

About two weeks ago, a farmer had several stags shot, one left wounded, by poachers. The venison was valued at about $20,000.

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Having farmed the land for 17 years, Mr Holloway said it was "unnerving" for those there legally and himself moving stock, knowing poachers were in the bush firing off random shots.

"They are idiotic sorts of pricks, they shoot deer and don't take any meat, just leaving it there to rot."

If the poaching was not put to an end soon there could be another "Jack Nicholas incident on our hands", he said.

Puketitiri farmer Jack Nicholas, 71, was shot dead by a gunman who waited for him to venture outside his Makahu farmhouse on August 27, 2004.

Police launched a homicide inquiry but it was not until May 2006 that they made an arrest. However, a jury found Murray "Moe" Foreman, 51, not guilty of the crime.

Mr Nicholas' family told Hawke's Bay Today last year they were still worried about poaching on their property and elsewhere in the area.

"It seems to be a weekly occurrence," Oliver Nicholas said. "And until judges do something about it, nothing will change. We had a bad case last year when we caught some guys, but it's a disgrace."

Mr Holloway hoped the motion sensor cameras he installed about six months ago would scare off some poachers and help catch others in the act.

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"As long as when we get someone the law deals with them properly and deters the others," he said. "Put it this way - when I'm walking in town I don't go into someone's property and say 'hey I'm just going to pick your carrots'." Bay View Police Constable John Bruce said the poaching was becoming worse, especially as deer mating season, or more commonly known as the "the roar" approached in March.

"It's always bad this time of year as they go out there trying to get their big stag."

He said the "cowboys" were not hunters but just "bloody thieves" unskillfully picking off deer on private property.

It was only a matter of time before somebody was shot and killed by a poacher's bullet, he said.