What does it take to turn an accidental act to something with deliberate intent?
Chances are if you’re a hunter you likely understand the majority of the laws that coincide with the sport. Why? It’s simple . . . to respect the game and the land, and to prevent yourself from doing something that is illegal.
Bow Tie is the buck pictured above and was a favorite of local photographers.
Photo Courtesy of Randy Crawford
Every now and then hunters may make a mistake and not realize it until after the fact. Whether you accidentally forgot to tag an animal immediately upon recovery, trespassed without knowing, or hunted without the correct license, it all comes down to the intentions of the individual committing the crime. And yes, crimes can be accidental.
If I told you a hunter accidentally violated three obvious laws all while harvesting a very well-known big buck in a Milwaukee County park, would you say it was an accident?
When James Crawford, a fellow employee here at Legendary Whitetails, told us about the events surrounding the death of this community legend named “Bow Tie” the morning after its demise, it was obvious it was no accident.
Bow Tie was a giant buck that frequented the Milwaukee area suburbs.
Photo By Randy Crawford
James had a unique first hand understanding of the giant buck, as his father Randy had been photographing Bow Tie since 2007 near the Menomonee River Parkway. His dad was the one to give him his nickname due to the unique white patch on the buck’s throat. Over the years this buck called the park and community home. Not only was his bow tie shaped throat patch a dead giveaway to onlookers, but he also supported a large 160 inch set of antlers that even non-hunters could identify.
“The buck would spend most of his time in the park,” Randy said in a recent visit to the office, “but over the years he became a regular guest at neighboring bird feeders, as well as at the Blue Mound Country Club.”
Randy Crawford, a hunter and nature photographer knew Bow Tie so well he could practically find him hiding in the park any day of the week. He wouldn’t wait for the deer to come to him, but rather would actively seek the deer out. “Most of the time I would find him bedded down and he wouldn’t perceive me as a threat,” said Randy.
When I asked how many photos he had taken of Bow Tie throughout the years I was shocked when he said, “Roughly a thousand or so every year. You know how it is, for every 50 to 100 pictures taken, you get one or two good ones. He was just a beautiful looking whitetail and made for some really good photographs.”
Crawford most recently photographed Bow Tie the Friday before he was shot with a bolt from a poacher’s crossbow on Sunday, December 13th. Jim Bagley, one of Crawford’s friends, was walking along the Oak Leaf Trail when he saw the buck and snapped some pictures. Shortly after his encounter he noticed a blood trail on the ground further up the trail and then the “hunter” as he would call himself in this video.
Jim confronted a man who was wearing street clothes with waders and holding a crossbow. He asked the hunter what he had done. After a short and nervous conversation the “hunter” fled the scene. Bagley, being a hunter himself, knew hunting was prohibited in the park and called the authorities. Soon after, Bow Tie was found dead at the end of the blood trail and the DNR wardens had caught up with the poacher.
Jason Elliott, who you can see pleading his case in the above video link, was charged with $1,540.00 in fines, loss of hunting privileges for one year, and his crossbow seized.
Photo Courtesy of Fox 6 News
While he claimed the hunt was accidental, there is no way any self-proclaimed “seasoned hunter” could accidentally break multiple laws.
Although the popular buck is dead, the real damage is the blinding bad light that Elliott forced upon the hunting community.
Paul Smith of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel perfectly explained this detrimental light in a recent article, stating:
The shooter violated many rules:
- He hunted in a prohibited area.
- He was not wearing blaze orange.
- He was not wearing a backtag.
- He shot an antlered deer during the statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt.
- He discharged a crossbow in a prohibited area.
Could an adult hunter be so far out of touch with regulations to commit so many violations?
Or was it a calculated, illegal kill concerned only with getting a big set of antlers?
The DNR will attempt to determine such details through its investigation.
Smith goes on to explain the true damage caused by a poacher who illegally harvested the well-known buck, reporting:
This much is already known: Even if conducted by a poacher, such cases put hunting in a bad light.
When such violations occur in rural Wisconsin, they don’t get much attention in the state’s biggest city.
But when one takes place in the Milwaukee suburbs, and the target is a charismatic animal known to hundreds if not thousands of local residents, it’s bound to result in criticism of hunting.
What happened is condemnable, no doubt about it. The shooter will face justice and suffer penalties.
It’s important for the non-hunting public to know the violator does not represent the hunting community.
The vast majority of hunters are law abiding and ethical. About 99% of licensed hunters in Wisconsin will not receive a hunting citation this year.
You should also remember this: Jim Bagley is a hunter (he tagged three deer this fall in Sauk County). If not for his actions on Sunday, the violator might not have been caught.
As hunters, we are responsible to know the rules. And follow them.
And when we see illegal acts, report them.
The future of hunting depends on it.
To read Smith’s full article on Bow Tie click here.