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

26 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.

  3. Absolutely not enough time. You take the night hunting, violation of the weapons law because of the domestic violence charge, and hist stupidity, there are starving people all over the world and no doubt in the area where he did this and all that meat just went to waste. 25 years should have been the sentence!

  4. Obviously there is something wrong with this person otherwise he would not be such a braggart about it.
    I think they should do a very good psych evaluation on him and possibly lock him up forever before he decides to do this same thing to other humans.
    Think about it.

  5. As a hunter I think this person got off to lightly. Look at what he did killed at least 10 large buck and ones I’ve never seen so to me his punishment did not fit there crime…he should have gotten a harsher punishment…period.

  6. their is no excuse for his actions he did not get wht he deserves thts for sure however u have to look at it this way he was caught much thank you to the game wardens tht persued and made it happen!!!!

  7. Its Just nice to see they got him. Far too many guys poach deer. I see it every year near me. Some of the worst offenders are the same guys who complain about it all the time. There are many forms of poaching. Hunting on property that you don’t belong on, using your friends deer tags, killing more than your allowed to by law. I know many guys that will openly brag about killing more deer than anyone else. When I ask, they simply think having a tag from someone else is all they need to do..its a shame that NY does not crack down on this practice, but really they want the deer gone due to all the insurance claims for vehicles hitting deer.

  8. I wish they would stop using the term “hunting” in these poaching cases. They are NOT hunting. They are poaching plain and simple.

  9. My young son would have loved to have SEEN bucks like this, let alone bagged one. This poacher got off lightly, and he should NEVER be allowed to hunt in ANY regard, or possess any lethal weapon for as long as he lives, and yes, he’ll be a fine trophy in prison. I hope his zipper is in the rear of his jeans.

  10. this man should be beheaded! God will surely have a punishment befitted such a foul human being! This man is despicable and a waste of oxygen! Pathetic excuse of a person! I hope he drops the soap and is never able to walk right again!

  11. I’m against poaching 100% , but it’s sad when a poacher gets a harder sentence than a child molester and people are more upset about it. What a screwed up world.

  12. This poacher is just that, “a poacher”. He should have gotten 5 years & $25,000.00 for each deer. Vehicle & guns taken & to never hunter again in his life time. But he’s a poacher so he will probably do it again as soon as he get’s out of prison, hopefully he’ll get his while in the pen. At what point didn’t his parent realize he was doing something wrong?
    Total waste of good deer meat, but then most poachers dont’t care about that, the law or much of anything besides himself.
    Got off easy!

  13. Absolutely NOT even Close to enough time !!! Also should loose hunting and fishing privileges FOR LIFE !!! This is the most cowardly despicable act of THEFT there is ! Killing just for Killing is the making of a SERIAL KILLER !!! He didn’t even use the Meat Wasteful coward bottom of the pond scum piece of TRASH !!! Ohhhh there is sooooo MUCH MORE I wish I could say !!! I will say I pitty this jackwods family for they will PAY for this forever as people don’t forget acts like this and it is a reflection weather he likes it or not his entire family will be frowned at for his entire bloodline !!!

  14. Well i think it its wrong when a person get more time in jail for killing a aminal that kill a other person it not about him kill the deeer its is all about the thing that he kill a deer that the state could got money from a hunter that would pay fot to get a chanch to kill its all about money that all it is my god its a deer not a person now this young go to jail for 5 years to that is dum as hell then they want him to pay $25.ooo doller right ther the only thing ther weare about the o mited doller

  15. I think this guy should go to prison for life I hunt And I at why poach just take the time and effort to find a nice big buck instead of drive out in some field with a spotlight and kill one anyone can do that I don’t know why people think that there hot stuff cause they can go blind a deer with a bright light and shot it I think he should be in prison for life

  16. Living in that county and knowing this individual and the Native mentality, I promise you they will not learn from this. This is a constant in Okanogan County, but the Game Officers do the best they can. Kids like this need some serious punishment so that the next person might think twice about it. Late at night you can see the vehicles in the hills spotlighting the whole hillside. It just makes me sick!!!

  17. You are all retarded there people who get less sentences for far worse things let’s start worrying about more important crimes in the world

  18. Manuel, I suppose you think he should be able to roam around and continue doing this????
    YOU ARE SICK !!!

    • Don’t put words in his mouth. He never said that. H merely was stating the truth – that rapists have received lesser sentences for committing a more serious crime. Lets consider that people who have committed:

      Assault, home invasions, armed robbery, rape, assault and battery have all received lesser sentences.

      So yea – I can see his point. He never argued that what this guy did was okay – merely made the point that by our Justice System’s own standards of punishment, this punishment didn’t fit the crime.

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