In November of 2022, Oregon State Police reported that fish and wildlife troopers from the Pendleton Area Command received information on several individuals who were unlawfully taking big game animals.

However, it was back in the summer of 2020 when initial evidence gathering began, and further into 2021 as more information began to pile up. Then, in December of 2021, authorities had enough evidence to search a home in Pendleton.

Found in that search were six sets of deer antlers and three sets of elk antlers (including a 7x7 trophy bull elk), as well as a hunting rifle, bow and meat. All of this led indictments of then 28-year old Walker Erickson and then 24-year old Hunter Wagner,  of Pilot Rock.

Fast forward to earlier this month, and Walker Ericson has pleaded guilty to 22 counts (including illegally killing deer and elk, leaving game animals to waste and trespassing) and will now be serving 14 days in jail during elk hunting season for the next three season years. In addition, the $75,000 in fine he owes includes $7,500 for a 4x4 buck mule deer $15,000 for a 7x7 bull elk, and $15,000 for a 6x5 bull elk.

Erickson also forfeited the rifle and bow he poached with. Additionally, a freezer full of meat, forfeited under court order, will be going to the Blue Mountain Wildlife Center for their raptor rehabilitation program.

Erickson's plea deal is the second in the case. His sentencing is also the first significant application of the new sentencing guidelines from a 2018 anti-poaching bill (House Bill 3035), according to the press release.

Hunter Wagner pleaded guilty on May 19th to one count of aiding in the poaching of a cow elk and of a buck white-tailed deer in December 2020. Wagner was sentenced to a five year suspension of his hunting license, three years of probation, $6,000 in fines and the forfeiture of wildlife, money and weapons to the state of Oregon for destruction or other disposition.

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