Two hunters in northeastern Utah were speechless when they discovered that the meat from two elk they had killed was stolen from their camp earlier this month. For friends Tracy Jones and Jamie Vigil, it was a disappointing end to what had been an exhilarating week spent chasing elk.
According to the Standard Examiner, the two men were hunting with friends near the Wyoming border in an area known as Horse Creek. The hunters have returned to the same location for a chance at elk for more than two decades, and after many years of going home empty, it seemed that their fortunes turned around on October 9.
“I was fortunate that a bull elk came up almost right to me, and I was able to get a good shot at him,” Vigil told FOX 13.
In the span of only one hour, Vigil and Jones both harvested their own elk. For Vigil, it was the first elk that he was able to bag in 12 years, and the hunters were understandably elated. It seemed like the perfect closer to what had been a week of fruitless searching and rough living in the Utah wilderness. The group had been preparing to leave just before the Thursday hunt.
“We had packed up everything,” said Jones. “We had been there the whole week.”
The elk were quartered and placed in Vigil’s truck near camp. The next day, the hunters went out one more time to search for some equipment they had lost earlier in the week, and by the time they returned, they found the camp missing one important component.
“I looked down to my truck, I said to my buddy, ‘somebody stole my elk,’” Vigil said.
The thieves made off with as much of the meat as they could carry, cutting through the truck’s thick back netting to take the quartered portions whole. Vigil said that they had even stolen the head of his elk, which had little in the way of meat but meant a lot of sentimental value to him.
Neither of the hunters have ever heard of someone stealing game meat from a camp, and apparently neither has the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources. When Vigil reported the theft to the agency, he was told that it was a unique situation.
“They said that’s the first case that’s ever happened,” Vigil said.
The hunters said that if someone needed the meat that badly, they would have given it away freely. Wildlife officials are investigating the case but for now, Vigil and Jones will be filling up their fridges with store-bought meat instead of the elk they bagged.
Image courtesy Bureau of Land Management