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Contributors to this thread:
JL 12-Nov-17
slade 13-Nov-17
Sixby 13-Nov-17
Woods Walker 13-Nov-17
Tiger eye 13-Nov-17
keepemsharp 13-Nov-17
Shuteye 13-Nov-17
Woods Walker 13-Nov-17
LINK 13-Nov-17
kyrob 13-Nov-17
LINK 13-Nov-17
Mint 13-Nov-17
Gray Ghost 13-Nov-17
Glunt@work 13-Nov-17
Whitey 13-Nov-17
owl 13-Nov-17
Bob H in NH 13-Nov-17
spike78 13-Nov-17
TD 14-Nov-17
From: JL
12-Nov-17

JL's Link
Got this in the inbox a bit ago from Montana. Does the "rule of first blood" apply in this particular case?

Central Montana archery elk hunt ends in custody battle over bull

BRETT FRENCH french@billingsgazette.com 4 hrs ago

Kale Grimsrud, 26, of Roy, has been archery hunting for six years. So far he's bagged one bull elk, this one taken two years ago. A bull he shot this year, however, ended in a story of frustration. This archery season, Kale Grimsrud arrowed an unusual bull elk while hunting in the Missouri River Breaks east of Roy, but the antlers will never hang on his wall.

That’s because Grimsrud became entangled in an issue of ownership that raised legal, moral and ethical questions worthy of discussion and debate. After reading his story, ask what you would do in a similar situation.

Grimsrud, a 26-year-old native of Roy, was in Hunting District 410 with his buddy, J.D. Harrell, when they ran into a band of elk on his family’s property. Harrell shot, hit a bull, and the rest of the herd spooked. Putting his bow down, since he had shot, Harrell hurried along with Grimsrud to cut the elk off over the next hill. To reach the hilltop they crawled over a fence that outlines a 320-acre parcel of BLM land and snuck into the trees.

The club bull

With Harrell at his side manning a rangefinder, Grimsrud heard his buddy say: “Club! Club! Club!” Grimsrud was confused. “Whaddaya mean club?”

“14 yards,” Harrell said, pointing out a bull with a club antler close by.

At 26 yards Grimsrud fired an arrow at the bull as it quartered slightly away. Dropping his bow and pulling up his binoculars to watch the elk trot away, Grimsrud said he could see half of the arrow poking out the other side of the bull, just behind the shoulder, in what seemed to be an obviously mortal shot.

“If you push them, they’ll run for miles,” Grimsrud said.

So he and Harrell decided to drive back to Grimsrud’s home and phone his parents to get their help hauling the elk meat out, since cellphone service is spotty in that remote area. Driving back to the house, they made arrangements to pick up Harrell’s girlfriend. Within an hour they were back, and Grimsrud was hiking to the area where he had shot to search for the unique, club-antlered bull. Harrell and his girlfriend split off to look for the one he had shot at.

Field trial

What Grimsrud saw after cresting the knoll was not what he expected.

“I walk over the hill and there’s six guys gutting out my elk and cutting it up to pack it out,” Grimsrud said. “It wasn’t 100 yards from where I shot it.”

Grimsrud said the hunters told him that they saw his elk, a different bull with an arrow stuck in its shoulder (possibly the one Harrell hit), run down the hill.

“Boy, that sure looks like mine,” he told them, intimidated by the fact that he was outnumbered and felt like his elk was being stolen, and there was nothing he could do about it.

When his friend and parents arrived later, a “screaming match” ensued. The men accused Grimsrud of lying, saying one of their hunters fired the killing shot and that they had seen no one around. When confronted with the fact that the bull had been shot twice, shown the blood trail and after Grimsrud’s bloody arrow was discovered stashed in a nearby bush about 15 feet away from the elk, evidence seemed to point to a cover-up by the other hunters.

“It seemed awful suspicious it was over there,” Grimsrud said of the arrrow.

Warden arrives

With the daytime temperature rising, Grimsrud agreed to let the other hunters take the elk meat to their nearby cabin to be cooled down. In the meantime, someone got a cellphone signal and called for a Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden.

FWP warden Trey Gacke, of Lewistown, responded with a fellow warden who was riding with him that day. After checking out the scene of the shooting, talking to Grimsrud, Harrell and the other hunters, Gacke had to make a tough decision.

He noted that Grimsrud had done the right thing by backing away after shooting the elk not to push it, but also said that he should have stayed close by.

“If they had kept one guy there to keep eyes on it,” they would have been still active in the hunt, Gacke said. “It’s wide open country, they could’ve watched the other guys coming in.”

Law vs. ethics

As it was, one of the other hunters had fired a second arrow, the elk died and he tagged the bull.

“There was nothing legally done wrong from the other guys’ side because they did put the bull down,” Gacke said. “They killed it.

“Then it turns into an ethical or moral issue,” he said. “Morally some people may think they should have turned the bull over. They chose to keep it. There’s nothing we could’ve done.”

Gacke noted that during the archery season, animals sometimes get shot and don’t die, so it’s not unheard of that a hunter may see an elk with an arrow in its shoulder. This is the first time Gacke has run into such an elk custody issue, although he’s heard tales about similar incidents where a hunter shoots an animal, it runs around a corner and someone else shoots the same beast.

“Antlers do strange things to people’s thought process,” Gacke said.

Aftershock

In the aftermath of the incident, the story spread quickly.

“News travels fast in a little town like Roy,” Grimsrud said.

The incident will undoubtedly tarnish how out-of-town hunters are now viewed in the area, since hunters are ambassadors for the sport as well as their communities.

“Out here in the middle of nowhere, you don’t see anybody until it’s hunting season,” Grimsrud said. “You just don’t expect it to happen out here.”

His sister, KayLee Grimsrud, agreed. “Being from a rural town in Central Montana, I guess we maybe grow up differently,” she wrote. “We grow up respecting the land, our neighbors, and wildlife. It’s an unspoken language, you just understand what is right and what is wrong, and you act accordingly.”

After all of the time and effort Grimsrud put into shooting that one bull, he has lost his motivation for the rest of the archery season.

“It’s unfortunate,” Gacke said. “I wish it would have turned out differently.”

From: slade
13-Nov-17
I agree with the Game warden, one of them should have stayed and kept active in the hunt and the second hunter is the one who put it down.

From: Sixby
13-Nov-17
Over the years I have seen this happen in Oregon a couple of times. Most bow hunters here understand that until an elk is down it is still game and whoever puts it down is the owner. This story stinks because these men shot two elk and only one was recovered. It seems like the story teller should have followed up on his bull and his friend should have stayed with his bull until it died. I know its a bad thing to bust a bull when wounded and we have chased some half a day before ever getting another arrow in it but lots of time you can sneak in very slowly until you see the animal , usually kegged up and just sit and wait until it expires or until you can get another arrow in it. I have seen a couple lost though from moving in too fast.

God bless, Steve

From: Woods Walker
13-Nov-17
The warden was right, case closed. This wouldn't necessarily be what I would have done, but technically the warden's decision was the correct one, albeit difficult.

From: Tiger eye
13-Nov-17
I think the warden made the right call.

From: keepemsharp
13-Nov-17
Bowhunter ed has always taught first lethal blood. It should apply here. But they should not have both left the scene.

From: Shuteye
13-Nov-17
You guys have your own rules out there. First of all I wouldn't want any animal that someone else had shot. I tell my neighbors that if they shoot a deer and the blood trail comes on my property they can trail and don't have to call me. They give me the same option. Several years ago I had put an arrow through a really nice buck and it went on the neighbors property. I was trailing and he found it before I did and helped me recover it. I have done the same for them.

From: Woods Walker
13-Nov-17
That's what I would do also Shut, but not everyone would. I simply don't need an animal that bad.

From: LINK
13-Nov-17

LINK's embedded Photo
LINK's embedded Photo
While elk hunting this year I was following a herd and came upon a steaming hot blood trail. I followed it searching for an elk, it was 100 yards long and Stevie Wonder could follow it. If I found an untagged unclaimed elk I would have tagged it before letting the meat rot. If someone showed up while I was packing I would have given them the rack and some meat. Right or wrong I’m not leaving an unclaimed elk to rot.

Needless to say I found nothing and no sign of a hunter. I concluded the two bulls that were bugling their way towards each other must have fought and spilled some blood. ??

From: kyrob
13-Nov-17
Seems to me the second shooter, if he actually even shot, knew he was in the wrong by hiding the first shooters arrow. Wonder if they would have gone to all the trouble if it was a cow?

From: LINK
13-Nov-17
In my situation kyrob, I would have if it was a calf. Why let an untagged or wounded elk lay and rot? I would have sat on the elk until he died.

From: Mint
13-Nov-17
If the first hunter had made a lethal shot I would have given him the bull when he showed up.

From: Gray Ghost
13-Nov-17
I agree with the warden's decision.

Matt

From: Glunt@work
13-Nov-17
Likely some details we don't get from the article. If I were on either side of the situation it would never be a news story. The fact that he left for a while and that the other guys shot it as well means his shot may not have been that great.

If I shoot an elk, discover it was already hit and the original shooter shows up, I would likely let him have it, help him take some pics, shake hands and take a load out for him. The only reason I would need to call a warden would be to lay out the situation so that I could get a new tag and keep hunting.

If I'm the original shooter and the second shooter doesn't want to give it up when its obvious I made a good shot, I'm likely not going to bother letting it escalate or calling the warden. I go help my buddy with his elk and continue hunting.

From: Whitey
13-Nov-17
I have yet to see another hunter not in my party while elk hunting. I would let the first guy have the elk.

From: owl
13-Nov-17
Obviously different customs from different areas. Perhaps it is time to make it clear by codification. I can see both sides on this one, nobody wants an animal to go to waste, but there can be (and have been) cases where somebody shoots a dead animal and claims it while the first hunter is very near by.

From: Bob H in NH
13-Nov-17
There's two fishy things in the article:

1) First guy (not the one in the dispute) put his bow down to track a hit elk? or maybe I miss-read it.

2) The bull went 100 yards? Sorry, if you hit it good you should try to recover it, not head in the opposite direction for help. One could have stayed while the other went for help , start skinning etc. Second, 100 yards and a second guy shot it? But were just gutting it an hour later? That alone sounds like they just came across it

Something doesn't smell right here.

From: spike78
13-Nov-17
My cousin and I went out turkey hunting and we were walking back to the truck on a path. My cousin spotted a tom on the way and shot it. It fell down and got back up and ran. We both had to hunt it down and I was the one who put it down. He said congrats to me and I said nah you take it. I didn’t feel right taking the bird after he just wounded it although I guess I could have. In the end he gave me half a breast and that seemed about right.

From: TD
14-Nov-17
In our elk camp it's first blood. Everybody helps with the recovery, there have been a couple of times guys on the search put the bull down. But it's first blood's bull.

But that's our rules in our camp, not everyone elses. Everybody in our camp knows the rules. Like an animal goes down everybody helps pack. And the meat is shared among the group when all is said and done for any who want to. (amazingly some don't.... I'll never figure people out) The "group" is normally two, but has been as many as six.

This case? Strange things all the way around on both sides. Legally, that was probably the only thing they could do. Ethically....... sad part is if folks knowingly claimed someone else's bull...... they probably are going to live with it ok and not lose any sleep over what they did. Hopefully Karma will fill in the gaps where needed.

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