PORT TOWNSEND — Two men being investigated in a poaching case in Clallam County are now facing similar charges in Jefferson County following a probe into the deaths of two bull elk in Brinnon last summer.
Jason Bradley Hutt, 29, of Sequim and Wyatt James Beck, 24, of Port Angeles both were charged Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court with two counts of first-degree accomplice to unlawful hunting of big game.
Hutt is expected to be arraigned this Friday in Clallam County Superior Court on 16 unlawful hunting charges. A warrant was signed for his arrest in Jefferson County last Friday.
Hutt posted $10,000 bail last week in Clallam County and was ordered to stay at his residence from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. in addition to a prohibition on hunting.
Beck is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in Clallam County Superior Court on Sept. 27 and a preliminary hearing in Jefferson County on Oct. 4.
Each charge in Jefferson County is a Class C felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
The probable cause statement written by Officer Bryan Davidson of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife alleges the men poached the elk in Brinnon between Aug. 15, 2018, and Sept. 1, 2018.
The first elk was found to be within 10 feet of the property line for the Brinnon School sports field, Davidson said. He wrote that he found the head and antlers, all four quarters and the back straps removed.
Davidson said he took a tissue sample and collected an empty shell casing fired from a .22-caliber rifle. A similar firearm was later recovered from Hutt’s residence during a search warrant last September.
The state is awaiting comparison results from the Washington State Patrol Firearms Lab, according to the probable cause statement.
A .24-caliber firearm or higher is required to hunt big game, according to state law.
Neither Hutt nor Beck had obtained a valid elk hunting license or tag for the 2018 season, court documents stated.
“Beck told me [in a recorded interview] that he was with Hutt when he shot and killed a bull elk near the Brinnon Schoolhouse,” Davidson wrote in his statement. “He told me that Hutt removed the head and antlers, all four quarters and the back straps. They then transported the elk parts to Hutt’s residence in Clallam County to process and package it.”
A lab report from the University of California-Davis confirmed the recovered tissue matched the skull and antlers that were later recovered at a private residence, court documents stated.
The second bull elk was found Sept. 3 on private property off Dosewallips Road. That incident was investigated by Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Kit Rosenberger, Davidson said.
“Upon inspection of the site [Rosenberger] found a dead bull elk that was missing its head and antlers, the rest was left to waste,” Davidson wrote.
Beck told Davidson in a recorded interview that Hutt first tried to kill the elk with archery equipment but ended up using Beck’s .44 magnum revolver, court documents stated.
Some of the men’s charges in Clallam County involve allegations of poaching bear southwest of Sequim.
Davidson’s statement said Beck went with him on a tour of the Brinnon sites Oct. 3.
“During our tour, Beck told me that the reason he and Hutt decided to return to Brinnon to hunt elk again was because they’d had a confrontation off Eggloff Road [in Clallam County] with local residents concerning the bear killings, and he and Hutt decided that it was too risky to return to Eggloff and continue hunting bears,” Davidson said.
Court documents state Beck told Davidson that he had asked Hutt why he didn’t take the rest of the elk meat, and Hutt said it was too far to carry.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].