Ohio man hunting for deer bags a bull elk instead

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Todd Tomlin, a 45-year-old truck driver who's been hunting for more than 30 years, was hunting with permission on private property along Inskeep-Cratty Road in the southwestern corner of Union County about 8:30 on opening day of Ohio's deer gun season when he spotted something most Ohio hunters will never see.

From the story:

...He saw three does in the distance, followed by a small buck.

He couldn't get a shot. Then, he saw something brown, with a big set of antlers under cover of the brush and weeds.

He fired once with his 12-gauge shotgun and hit his mark.

"It was trotting, its head up, like it had been spooked," Tomlin said. "I had just a split second to fire."

He saw the dark hair on the animal's belly, and no white on the tail, and knew he had something that would turn into the hunting tale of his life.

When Tomlin pulled into the deer-check station, clerk Joe Glick said he didn't even get all the way out of the store before he knew that was no Bambi in the bed.

All we had to do was see the horns sticking up over the side of the truck," said Glick, who checks deer that hunters bring to Scott's Sporting Goods during deer gun season. "We knew that wasn't no deer."

The consensus was that the animal -- much larger than a deer -- was an elk.

So Glick sent hunter Todd Tomlin on his way, and he called Christopher Rice, the Ohio Division of Wildlife officer assigned to Union County.

I didn't believe it," Rice said. "I thought Joe was messing with me."

But Rice knew Tomlin was an experienced, skilled hunter. If he had something out of the ordinary, it was worth a look. Rice met Tomlin at his Milford Center home.

"Sure enough, it was a bull elk," Rice said. "A big one."

Rice called his supervisor, who called his supervisor. Everyone tried to figure out what to do with it.

Turns out, Tomlin gets to eat it. ...Rice said there are no regulations that prevent Tomlin from keeping the meat.

...Elk aren't native to Ohio, and obviously they aren't regularly roaming the state's farm fields and wetlands. So the animal most likely was either purchased and then brought to an area farm or bred locally and then escaped from a pen, Rice said.

Rice added that the elk didn't count toward Tomlin's bag limit; Tomlin gets to shoot and tag a deer during the remainder of the season if he can.

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