Yeti

Colorado Elk Highs and Lows

seeth07

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Markesan, WI
I would’ve never took the time to do what you did in a situation like that. Those elk would’ve been on a ride home before anyone was the wiser.
While so many people have told me that and you are all likely right, that isn't good advocacy for public land hunting. What if you do get caught trying to recover? Won't be a good story and will give landowners another reason to not want to open their doors in the future
 

cedahm

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I didn't think my wording was confusing as most have understood it but to make it clearer, we did have evidence of sex properly attached until we got home and put all meat in our walk in cooler.
Gotcha - that's not how I read it (and the 'What we did was remove the testies and just brought them home' line in particular seemed to infer you removed them before you got home). But I understand, and if that's the case, I'm even more surprised that a citation was issued.

Either way - that is all just semantics - thanks for taking us along on the hunt and congratulations.
 

thusby

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While so many people have told me that and you are all likely right, that isn't good advocacy for public land hunting. What if you do get caught trying to recover? Won't be a good story and will give landowners another reason to not want to open their doors in the future
100% agree. In that situation, I think my tack may have been to immediately get the elk out of field. Then leave a note (with contact info) on a stick next to the carcass in the event they were too butt hurt.
 

jvanhoy

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Congrats on the bulls. I think you did everything right and shouldn’t let anything damper the hunt. I hunt a unit that borders private and have worried about a situation like this. I would make my best attempt of talking to the landowner but if I couldn’t get them I would have to retrieve the elk and take a ticket later if it came to it. No way I could leave it laying to waste. Very disappointing the game warden pushed the evidence of sex ticket. That’s just crazy. Congrats again on the bulls.
 

wllm

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I didn't think my wording was confusing as most have understood it but to make it clearer, we did have evidence of sex properly attached until we got home and put all meat in our walk in cooler.
I'm unaware of any law on the books in the United States that says you are presumed guilty and most prove your innocence, that warden broke the law.

What is this Russia?

He can't write you a ticket if you didn't admit to a crime and if he has no proof a crime was committed. Sure if he pulls you over and proof of sex isn't natural attached to the meat then yes you should be given a ticket, but your situation is ridiculous.

I've never taken a picture of the proof of sex on my meat, did I have it in transport naturally attached until I got home, 100%. Can I prove that for the 30+ big game animals I've taken... f-no.
 

old roper 42

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Black Forest, Co
This what you wrote
So legally, in CO, we need to remove the testies naturally attached to a hind and then somewhere between the CO state line and the Wisconsin line, we need to ditch them. I actually don't know the rules in Nebraska and Iowa so maybe we are illegal traveling with them there, I actually don't know.
What we did was remove the testies and just brought them home, taking the chance in Wisconsin and either not getting caught or hoping we can win that argument with a Wisconsin game warden because its honestly a ridiculous situation.
 

drexal

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He can't write you a ticket if you didn't admit to a crime and if he has no proof a crime was committed.
This is how they get your money. LE (warden, police or otherwise) writes the ticket. If you want to plead your case, you get a court date. So, as an out of stater, you either pay the ticket or travel hundreds of miles to go to court. They know most people will just pay the fine. I probably would have made the trip back.
 

Redman

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I have had several interactions with CO Wardens and all have been positive and one similar to your ordeal that by all rights I deserved a ticket.
One occasion I had to take a mule deer in to have mandatory CWD testing. Left proof of sex but put the tag on the antlers because I thought I was doing them a favor so they wouldn't have to dig the tag out of my cooler. The guy in Denver told me that I was in violation because the tag wasn't on a quarter. He said he understood but another warden might have gave me a ticket. So he said to attach it to the hind quarter that had the proof of sex. We put it right on the penis with a tie wrap.
I did the same thing you did with an elk. Hunting close to private and I made a good shot but he still ran 190 yds on to private. I had the owners info and a friend close by that possibly could help.me get in contact but no cell service. We knew a rain aand mix of snow was coming and then temperatures rise well above 40 the next day. My wife said just go and cut it up and get it out nobody would know the difference. I said it was illegal to do that and it is also illegal to not make every effort to try and salvage the meat. I could not get service and it was a long haul to where I could get service and with the weather it would be tough to get back once or if permission was granted. I went on private property and boned out the bull and put the game bags of meat where it would stay dry and cool. Headed back to the hotel after having to chain up in a rain snow mix and everything was gumbo. 5a.m. was when my head hit the pillow. I woke up at 8a.m to try and get a hold of the land owner. While doing that I got a text from the local warden to give him a call about my hunt last night. I about puked! I called him and he wanted to know why I didn't call him because he left his card on my windshield. I apologized and in formed him of the weather and I had to remove a bunch of snow from the truck a d did not see it. He said well I just wanted to let you know that you are not allowed to drive back where you were Hunting, but it was not clearly marked so no reason to site you. I said we'll you save me some trouble because I need to self report about the bull I shot. Told him the whole story and he said let him know if the land owner will not allow you to retrieve your bull and we will go get it. I through several phone calls could not reach the owner, even drove to his ranch and talked to his brother. 24hrs later the warden texted me and said the owner would be willing to talk to me. Called him and he ripped me and no matter what I explained he wasn't going to give me permission and hung up on me. Called the warden and he said the owners son wanted to talk to me and will be calling. He called right after I got off the phone with the warden. He wanted to hear all the details of the hunt and how I decided what to do. He told me he appreciated what I have done and apologized for his father and he and one of his friends met me took me down and we loaded the meat into his side by side. He explained why his father wad like that and said they hate when hunting season comes around because of all the crap they have to deal with. Cut fencing, trespassing, poachers and the list goes on. I told him I broke the law and you could have had me in trouble but I couldn't let the bull go to waste. He said you Sir did the right thing but there are a ton of us land owners that just would have had you in trouble. Long story but that land owners son and I are friends, the warden was gracious in not taking the bull and fining me. I am a hunter Education instructor so a game violation would have been the end of that. People and even the landowners son said I could have packed the meat out and no one would ever know. Well would they? The Warden already knew I was back there. Did he really want to tell me I drove back on land that wasn't marked? Did he watch me quarter a bull elk on private? Well I always try to do the right thing even when it is not so black and white. I promise you now I will always take a picture of proof of sex attached naturally with my tag attached to that quarter after reading this.
 

TheGreek

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I'm unaware of any law on the books in the United States that says you are presumed guilty and most prove your innocence, that warden broke the law.

What is this Russia?

He can't write you a ticket if you didn't admit to a crime and if he has no proof a crime was committed. Sure if he pulls you over and proof of sex isn't natural attached to the meat then yes you should be given a ticket, but your situation is ridiculous.

I've never taken a picture of the proof of sex on my meat, did I have it in transport naturally attached until I got home, 100%. Can I prove that for the 30+ big game animals I've taken... f-no.
This gets to the fine point that many don’t realize when it comes to criminal prosecutions in our country and the difference between common inferences law enforcement officers will draw when presented with situations in the field or on the street and the way those facts play out in court and the inferences that can and cannot be drawn based upon those facts under the law. We'll do a little roleplaying/future predicting with the facts presented.

Investigation/In the field
Game Warden (GW) asks @seeth07 to provide proof of proper evidence of sex. Seeth does not provide said evidence. Seeth is correct that he has no legal obligation to do so. The 5th amendment mandates that you cannot be compelled to bear witness against yourself in a criminal case. However, the GW can certainly infer that Seeth's lack of production of said photographic evidence is evidence of a violation and he issued a citation based on that inference. However, the GW's inference, which is the same inference most lay people would draw, becomes problematic at the prosecutorial level.

This is where the prosecution aspect of this case would become important.

Fictional Prosecution of the Case
Had Seeth decided to spend the time and the money to contest the citation, I expect he would have successfully defended himself in the matter because the prosecution would have lacked substantively admissible evidence against him to meet the elements of the offense in their case in chief. In other words, what is the evidence the prosecution would have been able to introduce that seeth did not transport the animals with proper evidence of sex attached? The GW did not see the animal transported improperly as to evidence of sex and assumedly no one else saw that the animals were transported improperly as to evidence of sex. Seeth's lack of response to the GW cannot be used as evidence against him because of the 5th amendment and case law interpreting it. In other words, the prosecution cannot introduce through the GW's testimony that the GW asked seeth for a photo of the evidence of sex and that Seeth failed to provide said photo and then argue that seeth's lack of response is evidence that seeth committed a violation as to properly attached evidence of sex during transport.

Long story short, the prosecution would not have any admissible evidence that seeth committed a violation and their case would fail as such. Truth be told, barring unknown facts, I'm not sure a case described as such would even be put on by a prosecutor as he/she would or should know that they lacked any substantively admissible evidence to meet their burden.
 

wllm

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This gets to the fine point that many don’t realize when it comes to criminal prosecutions in our country and the difference between common inferences law enforcement officers will draw when presented with situations in the field or on the street and the way those facts play out in court and the inferences that can and cannot be drawn based upon those facts under the law. We'll do a little roleplaying/future predicting with the facts presented.

Investigation/In the field
Game Warden (GW) asks @seeth07 to provide proof of proper evidence of sex. Seeth does not provide said evidence. Seeth is correct that he has no legal obligation to do so. The 5th amendment mandates that you cannot be compelled to bear witness against yourself in a criminal case. However, the GW can certainly infer that Seeth's lack of production of said photographic evidence is evidence of a violation and he issued a citation based on that inference. However, the GW's inference, which is the same inference most lay people would draw, becomes problematic at the prosecutorial level.

This is where the prosecution aspect of this case would become important.

Fictional Prosecution of the Case
Had Seeth decided to spend the time and the money to contest the citation, I expect he would have successfully defended himself in the matter because the prosecution would have lacked substantively admissible evidence against him to meet the elements of the offense in their case in chief. In other words, what is the evidence the prosecution would have been able to introduce that seeth did not transport the animals with proper evidence of sex attached? The GW did not see the animal transported improperly as to evidence of sex and assumedly no one else saw that the animals were transported improperly as to evidence of sex. Seeth's lack of response to the GW cannot be used as evidence against him because of the 5th amendment and case law interpreting it. In other words, the prosecution cannot introduce through the GW's testimony that the GW asked seeth for a photo of the evidence of sex and that Seeth failed to provide said photo and then argue that seeth's lack of response is evidence that seeth committed a violation as to properly attached evidence of sex during transport.

Long story short, the prosecution would not have any admissible evidence that seeth committed a violation and their case would fail as such. Truth be told, barring unknown facts, I'm not sure a case described as such would even be put on by a prosecutor as he/she would or should know that they lacked any substantively admissible evidence to meet their burden.
Did you speed on the way to work today? I know you drove to work, you are supposed to drive the speed limit.

Prove it.

Tickets in the mail.

So absurdity should be accepted?
 

marksjeep

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Grand Jct, CO
This whole thing piqued my curiosity a bit. Wisconsin has a 72 hour window, during which you can take whole carcasses or "non-exempt" parts to a processor, even if they originate from out-of-state. It's a little fuzzy in that they use the term "licensed processor" in some places, "processor" in some, and "permitted processor" in some. I'm not sure how this would apply to a home processor, but regardless, I think this covers you on transporting a Colorado-compliant elk carcass (evidence of sex naturally attached) into Wisconsin (at least for 72 hours).

From here: https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/carcass.html

Hunters are allowed to take whole cervid carcasses or any parts of carcasses harvested in the CWD-affected counties or in any state or province where CWD has been found into any part of Wisconsin, provided the carcass or non-exempt parts are taken to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours of registration, or within 72 hours of entering Wisconsin from another state.

Regarding the ticket, also from the regs page 16:

Evidence of sex is not required if a donation certificate accompanies less than 20 pounds of meat or after the carcass is cut into processed meat, wrapped and frozen, or stored at licensee’s home.

Perhaps I am reading that incorrectly, but the "or stored at licensee's home" part means once you get the carcass home, the evidence of sex can come off. Even if the carcass is not cut and wrapped yet.

Anyway, congrats on the elk. Interstate travel with critters adds another dimension we all need to be aware of.
 

TheGreek

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So absurdity should be accepted?
No, not at all. The GW’s inference, while a common one, is incorrect. He wrote the citation based on that inference, but he shouldn’t have because it’s not based on admissible evidence.

The problem for Seeth is that the GW’s mistake isn’t gonna shake out until he contests the ticket, the matter goes to court and a prosecutor reviews the matter. Which, understandably, is more time and money than most out of state hunters are willing to spend for a ticket.

I think we are in agreement here, that barring some unknown fact, the GW should not have issued the citation.
 

tillicant

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SE WI
We had just one morning left to hunt in the 5 day season and plans were to drive home sometime later that day. We didn't really have many options as we figured heading any place new would be a huge gamble and I don't remember where I first heard this saying but you don't leave elk to find elk right?

So we headed back in there but this time we decided to take a gamble on where the elk would be. From the top of the ridge, it was very easy to glass just about the entire burn so it wasn't difficult to spot them. The problem was each time they were anywhere from 600 to 1200 yards away and they never gave us enough time to close the distance. I timed the one sprint I did and I went from 1200 to 400 yards away in 16 minutes to never see those elk again. We ended up setting up where we could watch the two faces we had seen the elk. One was within shooting range, the other was about 600 yards away.

After getting in there super early, we sat for awhile in the dark. After it had got past that grey light, I knew something had to show up soon or it was going to be over for us. Literally just as I was thinking those dreaded thoughts, I spot an elk (spiker) on the far face.

"Time to run" I say.

We make a break down the ravine between us and the elk I spotted and work our way to within about 200 yards of where he should be. It didn't take long to spot him but in his current position, he was actually on private - one of three tiny 40 acre parcels nestled within the national forest. He is on it by about 50 yards.

Moments later, out from the dark timber emerges a nice bull, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and a calf, cow and than that spiker. 9 elk come storming towards us. Racing down this meadow and onto the public where we sit, not more than 75 yards away. They all get on public, between just being on the imaginary line I'm drawing in my head while looking at onX and about 75 yards onto public.

I look at onX and make a quick poor decision. "Shoot" I whisper to my wife. Bang...no elk move, they are confused. Bang...her elk runs up hill, back onto private by himself and falls over. I grab the gun and pick out a bull. Bang...the herd takes off, back onto private. They both die shortly after, 80 to 120 yards onto that 40 acre parcel. The excitement of just shooting two nice bull elk was the shortest lived adreline rush I have ever had while hunting. Regret immediately hit.

There was not much time to really think but at the time I said shoot I didnt really hesitate. These elk were headed down hill and wounded elk generally run down hill. To complicate the situation a little bit and something that played into my decision was there was this tiny private mining claim property that was only 50 yards wide just below us. 100 yards existed between the 40 acre private and this mining claim private. So it was a tight window where the elk were on public but in retrospect after all that happened, the correct decision would have been to let them pass us, walk quickly around the mining private and take the shot once the elk were through the mining claim and further down the burn and back on public. The rest of the story as you are all about to find out was not a very fun experience.

We do the right thing, walk out and start trying to figure out who the land owner is of this 40 acre parcel. We knock on many doors but it's 9:30am on a Wednesday and it's an area where I think most people that own and use this particular area just have cabins and getaways rather than year round homes. There is no cell service so all we have is the label from onX telling us who owns it and the hope that we finally find someone to talk to. We end up driving down a private road and finally find someone. He is older gentleman and he is very nice but it becomes very clear right away that he is mentally ill and can't help us. Knowing his condition, he realizes as quick as us that he can't help so he leaves us to go get his wife. This is where our poor decision turns into a horrible one. This lady absolutely flips out. I mean outright goes off on us. "You're trespassing on my land, didn't you read the sign" "You can't elk hunt behind my land, thats a wildlife sanctuary on that government land" "You have guns? Well this is just outrageous" "Wait until I tell all my neighbors, they aren't going to allow this and you to get away with killing something with a gun" "*huge gasp* There are children around here, what if you would have killed a child". She starts sobbing uncontrollably.

I apologize for intruding on her morning and ruining her day and we leave. We immediately go to a spot about 5 miles away where we noticed before we could get service. We had to get ahead of this. We find a bit of service, including data so we research like hell for 10 mintues to figure out a number we can for this land owner. We leave messages on a few voicemails but it wasn't very promising.

Ok, what do we do now? Think....think....call the sheriff? Think...think....ok, what if someone reports dead elk left to spoil since we can't legally go get them without permission and we have already did all we could do?....we ought to let a game warden know what's going on right? Ok let's do that.

After going through their dispatch, we get a phone call from an officer. He is extremely nice on the phone, I explain what we did and the situation we put ourselves in, he reminds us of what we can legally do and not do and I ask him many questions about legality of leaving the animals to waste in the event that we never get in touch with the landowner. We part ways on a good cooperate note and he claims he is going to try and contact the landowner for us as well.

Unfortunately, we had no choice but to leave that evening because I work on Friday and it's now Wednesday around noon. We decide to go get everything all packed up ready to go. I drive back to service and no returned calls. I do get a text from my cousin and his new GF is a headhunter and she got a list of numbers I should try of which 3 out of the 8 were ones I didn't try before and 2 of those had a voicemail I could leave. *Spoiler alert, I owe her big time* Back to camp, wrap up and we start to drive home. It's 4:30pm.

We get out of the mountains and onto the front range and I get a text:

"I am connected with some land near xxx, CO. What's your interest or concern?"

After a few exchanges, all was good. He was extremely happy that I reached out to inform him rather than just go get them. Turns out he lives in downtown Nashville and things went so well, I have an open invite to visit him down there anytime! Who would have thought a thank you gift of Wisconsin maple syrup and cheese curds could be so powerful?
In 2019 wife & I were hunting a property, near Craig, Were seeing alot of animals, and she had filled a cow tag. We had muley tags and she was seeing a fork for a couple of days and had made up her mind. We are mainly meat hunters, already have mounts that aren't hanging. Tues morning, after seeing this fork two previous times, we saw it on our way up to our pop-up, had to change our access as this deer was on the knoll next to the blind. He went downhill as we came up behind. When we were on top he was at a corner of the property. I set up the shooting sticks, she was so excited, I could feel it. She steadied, took the shot. The deer was hit good, took one jump & died on the other side. We did find hair on the fence but no blood on our side. Made some calls, luckily the two landowners were not feuding as the neighbor got ahold of hunters on his land, they actually saw the hunt go down, happy ending.
I guess I never really looked into WI rules as we kept all proof on, even got stopped by the Trooper in Nebraska because our trailer didn't have plates, told them we didn't need them in WI, a little about our hunt & were on our way.
 

seeth07

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Markesan, WI
I feel the hunting regulation system is no different than any other legal system where there will always be some items that aren't crystal clear and open to each person's interpretation of them. In my specific case, I'm going to bet that almost every single game warden in Wisconsin will not issue a citation for a hunter that is possessing and transporting legal proof of sex as required per a law from another state. Yes, I do know there is at least one Dane county officer who will. He literally might be the only one. This is where I know and accept that my stubbornness likely led to the citations. The chance of giving the game warden the photo as proof and not getting a citation were very high.

Like I said, I have personally moved past all of this and the response from everybody so far is basically what I expected because it mimics pretty close to that of how I felt and what others close to me who have heard about this already felt.

This next week I'm wrapping up the horn mounts where I plan to mount them on this old fence post I found on my property. They will sit in our family room along side all our other trophies (I really hate that word now thanks to social media and I just cant find a good replacement) in that room and I hope to be able to look at them and remember the Highs of this trip rather than the Lows and I'm confident I'll be able to do that :)
 

thusby

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Like I said, I have personally moved past all of this and the response from everybody so far is basically what I expected because it mimics pretty close to that of how I felt and what others close to me who have heard about this already felt.
You went, you had a great hunt and you paid a fun tax. 👍
On to the next hunt, thanks for posting this story.
 
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