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Outdoors

Outdoors notebook: Three charged in elk poaching case

Bob Frye
| Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, 5:09 p.m.
Wildlife conservation officers (from left) Dan Murray, Dave Stewart and Mark Gritzer and Northcentral Region law enforcement supervisor Rick Macklem pose with antlers seized in an elk poaching investigation.
Submitted
Wildlife conservation officers (from left) Dan Murray, Dave Stewart and Mark Gritzer and Northcentral Region law enforcement supervisor Rick Macklem pose with antlers seized in an elk poaching investigation.

Three Centre County men are facing charges for killing three bull elk, one of which could rank as the third largest produced in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has charged Frank Gordo Buchanan Jr., 25, and Jeffrey Scott Bickle, 46, both of Bellefonte, and Cody Allen Lyons, 20, of Milesburg with killing the animals in a two-night poaching spree in Karthaus, Clearfield County. They are accused of shooting the animals from a vehicle, with Buchanan being the trigger man.

The largest of the three bulls had a 10-by-9-point nontypical rack that scored 432 78 inches, according to Boone & Crockett standards. Pennsylvania has produced only two bigger.

The other two illegally killed bulls were a 5-by-7 scoring 243 18 inches and a 4-by-5 scoring 178 38 inches.

The first illegally killed bull — the 4-by-5 — was discovered Sept. 9. The antlers had been removed, but most of the carcass was left.

Wildlife conservation officer Mark Gritzer canceled a vacation to launch an investigation. Working a night patrol Sept. 15, he encountered the men seeking elk after dark with a rifle of the same caliber that killed the first elk and a handsaw caked with elk hair and tissue.

According to the commission, the men admitted to killing the 5-by-7 that night. Information from the commission indicates they left the area to get a chainsaw to remove its antlers. On their way back, they encountered the largest bull and shot it, too, Gritzer said.

Court documents show Buchanan told officers he intended to sell the antlers on eBay.

Buchanan and Lyons are charged in the Sept. 8 and 15 incidents. Bickle is charged only in relation to the two bulls killed Sept. 15. Each man faces a host of charges, the most severe being misdemeanor counts of unlawful killing of big game. Their fines could exceed $13,000 each.

The commission also plans to seek $11,500 in replacement costs for the elk.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled Oct. 29 at Clearfield County Jail.

Proposal

State Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County is working on legislation that would legalize the use of electronic calls for hunting deer.

Corman explained his idea in a memo by saying it already is legal to use electronic calls to hunt predators. Nonelectronic calls can be used for all kinds of species, including deer, he added.

“Electronic game calls do not substantially alter the already common practice of attracting game through calls but rather adds to the sport through increased safety. Electronic calls allow hunters to maintain a safe distance away from the sound, helping to reduce confusion and accidents,” Corman wrote.

Outdoor meetings

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources's third and final meeting to discuss a draft of its five-year “outdoor recreation plan” is set for 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Schenley Park skating rink on Overlook Drive in Oakland.

The plan outlines strategies and goals for state parks and forests. Participants will hear a brief overview, then be able to visit different stations and provide comments.

Those who can't make the meeting can comment online through Oct. 31.

The plan can be found at paoutdoorrecplan.com.

Stocking change

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has rescheduled the stocking of Harbar Acres Lake in Butler County.

It was to get trout Wednesday, but the lake's water was too warm for the fish to survive. The commission will try again Oct. 15.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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