Charges are pending and criminal citations have been issued in the case of two bull elk allegedly killed out of season and in a closed unit in Washington’s South Cascades.
State game wardens say a man and his father were found last Sunday night in possession of the heads of both bulls and meat of one, four days after the general elk season had closed, and they were able to track down where the animals had been killed “well within” the Loo-Wit Unit near Mt. St. Helens, which is off-limits to elk and deer hunting.
The case began with a pair of WDFW officers specifically patrolling for nighttime poaching east of Toutle after the four-day late rifle blacktail deer hunt had wrapped up that evening. At approximately 8 p.m., Officer Blaine Corey spotted a vehicle heading out of a block of Department of Natural Resources timber on the North Fork Toutle straddling the Loo-Wit Unit, in an area where “most deer hunters don’t go.”
As Corey monitored the vehicle’s progress, he saw an antler sticking out of the bed of the lifted pickup and so he stopped it for an inspection.
According to WDFW Police, when contacted the driver “appeared nervous.” Asked what the duo inside the rig had killed, “Officer Corey got an unexpected answer of an elk.”
Western Washington’s elk season closed November 16, the day before the late blacktail season opened.
Officers report the driver “confessed to seeing the bull in the same roadway he was hunting deer and shot it.”
Corey took the identification of both men, who turned out to be a son and father, as well as secured their two rifles, including a .338-caliber which was loaded and had a round chambered, according to WDFW.
After backup in the form of WDFW Sergeant Pat Anderson arrived, the officers asked the two men to open the truck’s bed and put the elk’s quarters on the tailgate.
That led to the second surprise of the night – there wasn’t just one elk head in the back; there were two.
“The suspects had admitted to one elk but left out the fact there was a second bull,” WDFW Police reported.
Upon further questioning, the son allegedly said he’d shot two bulls late in the afternoon but they hadn’t been prepared to be be out after dark. Their one flashlight had died, so they took just the head of the second elk “but left the rest to waste; or come back later, it is unknown.”
Despite apparently getting poor directions from the two men about where the elk were shot, Anderson and Corey went in search of the kill site and found it very early Monday morning.
“Both bulls died within 10 yards of each other, and one was left with guts inside to presumably rot,” WDFW reported.
The location is described as “well within the Loowit GMU which is closed to elk and deer hunting.”
“Criminal citations were issued,” said agency spokeswoman Samantha Montgomery, adding, “additional charges are being filed with the prosecutor.”
State hunting managers do issue special permits to hunt wapiti in a section on its west end known as Mudflow, or Elk Area 5099, but it doesn’t appear that either of the two men had been drawn.
Anderson and Corey salvaged meat from the unprocessed elk for donation.