Charges were dropped against Tod Reichert, 77, of Saikum, Washington. He was initially charged with second-degree unlawful hunting of big game in an area that was closed for hunting “branch- antlered bull” elk. The judge that was presiding over the case cited that the language in Washington’s 2015 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet was too vague, despite an illustration on page 49.
The incident occurred Dec. 1, 2015, in Game Management Unit 334 near Ellensburg where Bullwinkle, an exceptionally large 6×7 elk, was killed by Reichert. The area was open for hunting but only for hunting of “true spike bull” elk. Reichert shot the elk and transported the animal to an area open to taking trophy bull elk before field dressing the animal.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Judge Hurson said in his ruling there was no specific definition of the phrase “branch antlered bull elk” in the Fish and Wildlife Department’s regulations. Department officials should have made the rules clearer if they did not want hunting of elk in GMU 334.
Here is some of the judge’s reasoning from his ruling:
- Bullwinkle was shot in an area that allowed hunting of “true spike bull” elk during the hunting season.
- “A ‘true spike bull’ is defined as a bull elk that has ‘both antlers with no branching originating more than four inches above where the antlers attach to the skull.’”
- “There is no specific definition in the regulations defining the phrase ‘branch antlered bull elk.’”
- Thus: “A defendant should not need to guess what a statute or regulation was meant to mean. A statute is unconstitutionally vague if the criminal offense is not defined with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is proscribed.”
Reichart is fairly well known in Elk and conservation circles for spending large amounts of money on Governor’s Tags and other hunting actions. Among his trophy bids are $40,000 for the 2007-08 New Mexico Governor’s Tag, $19,000 for the 2001 Oregon Governor’s Tag, $16,000 for the 2003 edition, and an unpublished amount for the 1999 California tule bull elk tag. More recently he spent $75,000 to claim the 2016 auction elk tag for Washington and the Pennsylvania 2016 elk auction tag for $85,000.
This is not the first time he has been involved in a hunting violation. In 2007, Reichert bought Washington’s first East Side Governor’s Tag and killed a trophy elk in the Umatilla National Forest.
However, he was later indicted for hiring a helicopter service to spot elk for him. He was also charged with lying to wildlife authorities about the guiding services he hired.
Reichert’s attorney says he hopes to get back the antlers that came off the trophy bull as well as the hide, which has been frozen since it was confiscated by state Fish and Wildlife police.
The Kittitas County Prosecutor’s Office plans to decide in the next month whether to appeal. I appreciate the money he spent on conservation but you give real hunters a bad name .I hope they do appeal and that they find him guilty. Just because he has money does not mean the laws do not apply.
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