Key Deer
Photo by Andy Newman

When the National Key Deer Refuge was established in 1957, its first manager, Jack C. Watson, sometimes employed unorthodox tactics to discourage repeat poachers targeting the diminutive deer under his protection.

In the mid 1950s the Key deer population was less than 50. Today, the herd size is estimated at around 700.

“If he found somebody’s car parked and knew they were hunting, he would politely leave a message telling them not to come back again and disable the car, putting a few bullet holes in the gas tank or the engine,” said Watson’s son, Jack “Kip” Watson.

In the mid 1950s the Key deer population was less than 50. Today, the herd size is estimated at around 700.

Though Watson’s John Wayne-like style would never be acceptable today, NewmanPR quickly identified it as one of the foundations for news story suggestions to herald the 50th anniversary of the National Key Deer Refuge that protects the diminutive deer on Big Pine Key and other islands in the lower Florida Keys.

The 50th anniversary story was carried nationally in print and broadcast venues that included a Nov. 27, 2007, segment on “NBC Nightly News.”

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