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Three charged with illegal kill of bull elk

One of the largest bull elk ever recorded in Pennsylvania was shot illegally along with two other bulls this month, and three Centre County men have been charged with teaming in a poaching effort, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced. Largest of the three bulls had a 10x9-point non-typical rack that initially was measured at 432 inches, based on standards set forth by the Boone & Crockett big-game scoring program.

At that score, and if the bull had been killed legally, it would rank as Pennsylvania's third-largest bull elk ever. Also illegally killed in the same area of Karthaus Township, Clearfield County, over two nights of poaching, was a 5x7-point bull measuring 243 inches and a 4x5-point bull measuring 178 inches.Charged in the incident are Frank Gordo Buchanan Jr., 25, and Jeffrey Scott Bickle, 46, both of Bellefonte; and Cody Allen Lyons, 20, of Milesburg.If the men are convicted in the incident, the PGC will seek they contribute toward $11,500 in replacement costs for the illegally killed elk, and each man faces thousands of dollars in fines, with the maximum potential fine exceeding $13,000 for the men charged with killing all three elk.Buchanan is accused of shooting all three bulls at night from a vehicle, the first being the 4x5 bull, which was discovered September 9 by a resident nearby with the antlers removed, but most of the carcass remaining.Wildlife conservation officer Mark Gritzer initiated an investigation and extracted a 7 mm bullet from the elk's shoulder, according to court documents filed with Magisterial District Judge Jerome Nevling of Kylertown. Gritzer then returned to the area for night patrol September 15, and at about 9 p.m. parked in an area overlooking a reclaimed strip mine where multiple elk could be heard bugling.Within 15 minutes, he saw a pickup approach, and its occupants appeared to be spotlighting recreationally, but, suspiciously, the driver would turn off the headlights each time the pickup stopped. At about 9:45 p.m., a single gunshot erupted from the area of the pickup and Gritzer activated the emergency lights on his patrol vehicle and drove to the location where the pickup was sitting parked with its headlights off.When Gritzer's backup, WCO Dave Stewart, arrived at the scene, he found a 7 mm rifle lying on the ground nearby. Not only was the rifle consistent with the caliber used to kill the 4x5 bull, a handsaw caked with elk hair and tissue also was found in the pickup.Buchanan admitted to shooting at a large bull elk, and all three men were placed under arrest. Because a fog had moved in, the officers decided to wait to try to find the elk and accompanied Buchanan, Lyons and Bickle to the state police barracks in Woodland for fingerprinting, at which time Buchanan admitted to killing 4x5 bull.At 2 a.m., Buchanan led Gritzer and Stewart to a trailer home in Milesburg, where he retrieved a sawed-off set of antlers that perfectly matched the skull plate on the poached bull, according to the documents. At 7:30 a.m., Gritzer and Stewart returned to the arrest scene to search for the larger bull at which Buchanan admitting shooting and found the 10x9, which had been shot in the neck with a 7 mm, and within sight, about 350 yards away, the 5x7 lay dead.Further investigation indicated the men had killed the 5x7 at about 8:15 that night and left the area to go to the town of Snow Shoe and get a chainsaw to remove the antlers. Gritzer arrived after they had left, and when they returned, they encountered the 10x9.Buchanan admitted to killing the third bull, as well, and told the officers he had intended to sell the antlers on eBay. Buchanan and Lyons are charged in the September 8 and 15 incidents, Bickle is charged in relation to the two bulls killed on September 15 and a preliminary hearing for the men is scheduled for October 29 at the Clearfield County Jail.**********A public meeting on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission muskellunge management plan will be held by the agency Saturday, Oct. 18, beginning at 1 p.m., at Cabela's Hamburg. Anglers will be updated on the progress made to date on the plan and the PFBC will seek angler feedback on musky fishing and management in Pennsylvania."This meeting is designed to improve the commission's commitment toward increased communication with our angling groups and improved communication exchange," PFBC Division of Fisheries Management chief Dave Miko said. "It will focus on a wide range of topics, including the progress that has been made on the numerous aspects of the statewide musky management plan released in October 2012."There will also be presentations on hatchery culture of musky, current results from PFBC tagging studies and projects performed by musky clubs. We're hopeful that we can reach a diverse audience of musky anglers from around different parts of Pennsylvania and with different interests in musky fishing, whether you enjoy fishing large lakes, rivers or smaller waters."**********Sunday's edition of "Experience The Outdoors," winner of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association's best outdoors radio program award hosted by award-winning POWA member Doyle Dietz, at 7 a.m. on 1410-AM WLSH, at 9:30 a.m. on Magic 105.5-FM and on the Web at

www.wmgh.com by clicking the link to the program, features Pennsylvania Game Commission Southeast Region director Cheryl Trewella.**********First Frontier Militia, the muzzleloader group associated with Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, Gun Club Road, located off Route 248, will hold a shoot Sunday, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. For information call Ken Milburn at 610-767-6222 or Dave Algard at 610-760-8333.**********A 30-target, 3-D hunting course is open daily from dawn to dusk, except Sundays from 1-4 p.m. for trap, at Bear's Head Archery, located off Exit 134, I-81, Delano. For information call the club at 570-467-0331.