Bounty from illegal elk hunt will go to good use | AspenTimes.com
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Bounty from illegal elk hunt will go to good use

Hundreds of pounds of elk meat that was confiscated from an El Jebel man convicted of illegal hunting will be donated to charitable organizations for distribution to the needy, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The fate of the antlers that came from a trophy bull elk in the same case is still to be determined. The bull shot by bow hunter Marc McKinney was estimated to weigh more than 700 pounds and was labeled “a hunter’s dream” in testimony by a state game warden. The bull sported a set of antlers that was roughly 4 feet high and 3 feet wide from the tips. Each beam had six points.

The antlers will either be used as a display in the wildlife division’s Operation Game Thief program, used in some other education effort or auctioned off, according to Pat Tucker, regional manager for the DOW. Confiscated hunting bounty is periodically offered at a public auction in Grand Junction, he said.

The meat will go to food banks that distribute items to low-income and homeless people.

The meat and antlers would have been returned to McKinney if he hadn’t been convicted, Tucker said.

A jury convicted McKinney May 21 of illegally using bait to hunt elk east of Aspen in the White River National Forest. He was charged with shooting a cow elk and the trophy bull on Sept. 11, 2003, while sitting in a tree blind in an area where a salt block had been used.

McKinney argued that he didn’t place the salt there and didn’t know any bait was present at that spot this year.

The prosecutor convinced the jury that the bow hunter knew or should have known the salt was present.

McKinney was fined $1,000 for each count of illegally taking the elk and $10,000 under a special state law for killing the trophy bull. Associated court costs and fees boosted the total fine to $12,761. The wildlife division will also hold a hearing to determine if his hunting license will be revoked.

Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols said she will have the wildlife division keep the elk meat frozen for at least 30 more days until it is determined if McKinney will appeal his conviction. The meat and antlers are considered evidence in the case.

The antlers were displayed in the Pitkin County courtroom during McKinney’s trial. They had to be kept on ice because the scalp, complete with some flesh and tissue, was still attached.

If McKinney appeals the conviction, he must file a notice with Pitkin County District Court within 30 days of sentencing, Nichols said. The judge would review a transcript of the trial as well as new briefs prepared by the lawyers.

John Case, the attorney for McKinney, said the decision on whether to appeal will be something his client must weigh over the next month.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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