Home Hunting Deer Hunting Washington Poacher Who Beheaded Trophy Bucks Gets 5 Years, $24K Fine

Washington Poacher Who Beheaded Trophy Bucks Gets 5 Years, $24K Fine

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A 25-year-old Washington poacher was sentenced with a heavy penalty for killing and beheading several trophy mule deer bucks.

An Omak man felt the full weight of the law last week as he was sentenced to five years in jail and ordered to pay more than $24,000 in fines for illegally hunting and beheading several trophy mule deer bucks.

Garret Victor James Elsberg, 25, pled guilty on April 11 to eight counts of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game, seven counts of second-degree unlawful hunting, possession of a firearm, and one count of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game, reported the The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle.

Elsberg began his trophy buck killing spree in Okanogan County back in September 2012. Without a license — and prohibited from using guns because of a prior domestic violence charge — Elsberg hunted the bucks at night using his truck’s headlights. After killing the deer, he beheaded them, kept their heads and left their bodies to rot.

“THESE WERE THE MOST FLAGRANT ACTS OF POACHING IN MY 25 YEARS AS A GAME WARDEN. THE PENALTY MATCHES THE SEVERITY OF THE CRIME.” — JIM BROWN, FORMER OKANAGON GAME WARDEN.

In December of 2012, Elsberg posted a photo to Facebook of him hoisting the head of a trophy mule deer buck while wearing a shirt that read “DAMN I’M GOOD.” The buck was known by local hunters as the “Pitchfork Buck” for its unique three antler prongs on its left rack. Local hunters recognized the buck in Elsberg’s picture and alerted local wildlife officers.

Image via NWSportsmanmag.com
Soon after, officers began receiving reports of headless deer carcasses around Okanoga and Malott counties.

According to Northwest Sportman, the break in the case came when officers were alerted to trophy deer heads being transported on the nearby Colville Indian Reservation, where Elsberg operated a smoke shop. During a sting operation on the reservation, wildlife officers retrieved DNA samples from one of the heads, which later matched to one of the headless deer bodies found in Malott. Officers later recovered 10 trophy buck heads from Elsberg’s grandparents’ home on the reservation.

Jim Brown, who was the Okanogan game warden at the time, said Elsberg’s killing spree was the worst he’s ever seen.

“These were the most flagrant acts of poaching in my 25 years as a game warden,” he said. The penalty matches the severity of the crime.”

Do you think this Washington poacher received an adequate punishment? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo: NWSportsmanmag.com/Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

3 COMMENTS

  1. The poaching Jerk got a light sentence as far as I am concerned, I might feel different if the man and/or his family needed food due to not being able to eat and that the meat was eaten, and ONLY IF HE had taken 1 or two to eat and not leaving the meat to rot. I feel these criminal poachers should get worse, he got off lucky with what he got.

    • I agree it should have been much worse due to the wasteful nature of this he should have got atleast 5 years on each count of the poaching then 10 years for the illegal possession of a firearm and fined $24000 for each of the deer he poached not total make the poachers that do this for fun think 2 or 3 times before they do this. if it was he needed food for his family I would be for letting him off and letting him keep the meat for his family.

  2. Dan, I agree with you. I feel his financial penalties should have been much worse. He should be getting a 25k fine for just the buck in the photo above and individual fines for each additional animal. Poaching is wrong on its own but when he doesn’t even take the meat, it makes it much worse! People need to learn from this and not take advantage of our nature. He is the type of person who is making it worse for law abiding hunters and giving us a bad name.

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