Mason County Elk Hunters Held at Gunpoint

Some elk hunters from Shelton recently “found themselves staring down the barrels of guns pointed at them by uniformed officers of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe,” earlier this month, according to a story in the Port Townsend Leader.

Reporters Barney Burke and Allison Arthur wrote Oct. 7 that the hunters, using muzzleloaders (an antique style firearm) were on private property in Brinnon between Highway 101 and the Hood Canal, and had permission from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to hunt elk.

But the officers thought the men were hunting illegally — and took out their own guns in investigating. The hunters were handcuffed two hours.

The misunderstanding was eventually cleared up, but left the hunters “upset and angry,” the story says.

I spoke with Karl Gilje, chief of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s Department of Public Safety, this morning. He said that the investigating officers in the case were under the tribe’s department of natural resources, and not under his public safety department. They do sometimes assist one another at times, Gilje said, but not during the incident Oct. 3.

A full investigation is underway in the case by the state department of fish and wildlife and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Peninsula Daily News.

9 thoughts on “Mason County Elk Hunters Held at Gunpoint

  1. This is why I go hunting with a .40 S&W as a sidearm. I would have had no problem shooting and killing both “officers” if they had drawn a weapon on me. How were these two hunters to know if these idiot police wannabes were legit?

    The tribe was most definitely in the wrong here and deserves to be sued for A LOT of money.

  2. Jon8mup,

    Its comments and opinions like yours that perpetuate the neccessity of Law Enforcement Officers (regardless of jurisdiction) to draw their weapons when dealing with people who are armed.

    Contacting anyone who is presently holding a firearm is inherently dangerous and I am sure that the officers were simply ensuring that they would be able to go home safe at the end of the day.

    If the “Hunters” had been criminals with guns, there would be no dispute on the legitimacy of the officers unholstering their weapons. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing that fact (just like you pointed out “How were these two hunters to know if these idiot police wannabes were legit?”) until they can verify their information. They were playing it safe, just as I am sure that you would if you were in the same situation.

    Washington state law (as well as Federal) requires any citizen to comply with a public official (Law Enforcement) when they are in the process of determining if a law has been broken. In this case it took a few hours due partly to the fact of the location I am sure. The Law Enforcement Officers did nothing wrong.

    If the hunters doubted the validty of the officers identity and subsequent authority they could have requested identification. Even if they were not satisfied with that they could have requested to call dispatch and verify on the spot. I dont know a single officer that would refuse that request, given the situation was under control.

  3. NONYA,

    They are tribal Police from Port Gamble In Brinnon (huh)? with AK-47’s wow ! when your so called Law enforcment showed up their guns were put away and the elk was in the back of the truck and one of the hunters was a child.

    Maybe they should stay on the reservation where they belong and leave the real Law enforcment to do their job.

  4. Tribal Police? Is that an oxymoron like “jumbo Shrimp” “Military Intelligence” and “Bad Sex”. Sounds like the Tribe might be givin up some bingo money in the near future.

  5. The Officers involved were not Tribal Police Officers. They were Tribal Natural Resources Officers within their jurisdiction (Usual and Accustomed hunting areas). Read case law and you will see they had every right to contact the hunters. Were they excessive in pointing a gun at them? No. How are Law Enforcement to know what type of gun is used. Was it unfortunate that a two year old was involved? Yes. Tribal Officers receive the same training as any other Law Enforcement Officer in this state.

  6. Josh, can you provide a REAL update to the story? I’ll take Mr. Jones’ spin with salt (not that that makes it more palatable).

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