Large Bull Elk Poached Off Highway Near Wheatland; Head, Antlers Sawed Off

A large bull elk was illegally shot earlier this month near Wheatland along a highway that runs between two of southeast Wyomings premier elk hunt areas. It's head and antlers were sawed-off while the carcass was left to rot.

Mark Heinz

August 18, 20223 min read

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UPDATE: 4:50pm, August 18

It was confirmed on Thursday that the bull was killed on the south side of the highway, in hunt area 6, Game and Fish public information officer Robin Kepple told Cowboy State Daily. It still wasn’t clear whether it had been shot from the highway. The carcass was fully intact when wardens first investigated the scene, so it wasn’t clear if the person or people involved in the shooting were the same who came by later and took the head and antlers. 

A large bull elk was illegally shot earlier this month near Wheatland along a highway that runs between two of southeast Wyoming’s premier elk hunt areas.

The animal, described in a Wyoming Game and Fish Department press release as “a mature bull” was evidently illegally shot late August 5 or early August 6 along Wyoming Highway 34 about 2 ½ miles west of the Thorne/Williams Wildlife Research Center in Sybille Canyon. The bull’s head and antlers were then apparently taken sometime either late August 6 or Early August 7, while the carcass was left to rot. 

Along with the killing being out of season, it is illegal in Wyoming to abandon any edible portion of a big game carcass. The press release doesn’t specify if it’s suspected the bull was shot from the highway. It’s also illegal to shoot game animals from a road or highway. 

The stretch of Highway 34 where the poaching took place runs between elk hunt area 7 to the north and hunt area 6 to the south. The press release doesn’t specify on which side of the highway to bull was killed, and Game and Fish personnel from the Laramie Regional Office could not be reached for comment late Wednesday. 

Hunt areas 6 and 7 are highly favored for an abundance of elk across a variety of terrain. The earliest season there this year is a special draw tag, antlerless elk hunt in area 7 that opened on Monday. Those tags are valid only on private property in Platte County where hunters have the landowner’s permission. Archery hunts are set to open September 1 in both areas, while most rifle hunts there don’t begin until October. 

Area 6 has a mixture of general tag hunts – for hunters who have purchased elk tags over the counter – and draw tag hunts. For limited quota draw tags, hunters must apply and pay early, usually in May, and will have their money refunded if they fail in the drawing. 

Area 7 is draw tag only. Cow and antlerless elk tags are abundant for the area; bull tags are difficult to draw, and the area has a reputation for producing large bulls. 

“It is unfortunate this elk was taken out of season and left to waste,” Game and Fish Laramie regional wildlife supervisor said in the press release. “We are asking for the public’s assistance with bringing forward information about this investigation.” 

A reward is being offered for information, the press release said, without specifying the amount. People can call the Stop Poaching Tip Line at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847). Tips can also be made by texting keyword WGFD and message to 847-411 or  can  be made online at  Informants can remain anonymous. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter