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Hunting incident brings charges in Buckley
An errant hunter was cited for a weapons discharge in Buckley city limits and reckless endangerment after shooting an elk on private property Oct. 8.
The hunter, James Hall of Bonney Lake, also faces a trespassing charge after property owner Michael Maas chose to file a complaint against him. Hall, 41, was not found to be in violation of any gaming laws.
According to the police report, on the evening of the incident, Police Chief Jim Arsanto was at home when he heard a gunshot from somewhere outside. The chief called dispatch and informed the responding officer that he believed it was a muzzleloader rifle, based on the sound.
Officer Adam Garrett encountered Hall, wearing camouflage, as he was loading his rifle into his truck, which was parked on the Davis Street access road off of Ryan Road. Garrett asked the man if he had been hunting in the field, and Hall responded that he had. Garrett asked the man if he had permission to hunt in the field and Hall responded that he did not, but he did not see any signs prohibiting him from doing so.
“The City of Buckley’s municipal code does not require me to put up a sign to keep trespassers off my property,” Maas said. “I checked and that’s true. He wasn’t wearing an orange vest. I think he knew what he was doing and that he wasn’t supposed to be there.”
Maas makes his home at the end of the South Spruce Street neighborhood, in a house he has lived in for more than 20 years, he said. To the east and south of the house lays about 10 acres of undeveloped land also belonging to Maas. South of that is land owned by Investco Financial Corporation, and south of that is Ryan Road and Davis Street.
Hall shot the elk, a six-point bull, several yards north of the Maas/Investco property line and near a forested area on the west side of the Maas property. He admitted to shooting north toward the trees, but said he did not realize there were houses or a street beyond the trees.
Arsanto arrived on the scene to assist and the three walked into the field to the dead bull. At that time, Maas was away from home.
Arsanto called the local officer for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine if any gaming violations had taken place. The officer advised Arsanto that the only immediate violation was that the elk hadn’t been immediately tagged.
Hall was advised that he would be charged with firing a weapon within the city limits and reckless endangerment for firing in close proximity to residences. He was allowed to tag the elk and – no longer being in violation of gaming regulations – clean and harvest the carcass. He was additionally informed that he could be charged with trespass if Maas, who still was not present and could not be reached by the officers, chose to report himself as a victim.
Maas did file charges against Hall. The property owner came home and confronted the hunter as he was dragging the carcass toward his truck.
“He had just dragged the carcass over the ditch (the marker of the property line) as I got to him,” Maas said. “That’s what gets me the most, that he was allowed to harvest the elk after he shot it while trespassing.”
Hall was able to drag the animal to his truck, at which point he called police so that they could photograph the carcass for evidence and officially cite him for his three criminal violations. Hall was released at the scene without incident.
Maas recently had problems with other hunters trespassing on his land, he said.
“Not only are they not where they’re supposed to be, there are families and children on the street that could have been shot if they missed,” he said. “I walk through the neighborhood twice a day, morning and evening. I could have been shot.”
But what most immediately bothered Maas, he said, was the loss of the elk.
“I’ve watched that elk in the field for about six years,” he said. “They’re friendly. They have to be, living next to houses and people. And they shouldn’t have been shot on my property or anyone else’s.”
Maas said he will be present at Hall’s court date.