MISSOULA, Mont. - Ethan Donaldson shot his first elk this year. He'd been trying for 10 years and finally got a bull on the very last day of hunting season.
"I couldn't have been more excited in my entire life," said Donaldson.
His family was thrilled and couldn't wait to see it. Donaldson had planned to do a European mount and was going to take it to his friend's house the very next morning.
He didn't want to take the head into his apartment, so he left it in the bed of his truck overnight. However, when he came outside the next morning, it was gone.
"It's just a sad thing that this happens in the state of Montana. Everybody values the wildlife they take, and I just wish people would understand what it's like to be a hunter and what it's like to kill something that you really admire and that you work so hard for," said Donaldson. "We leave our family for three months out of the year to go elk hunt, and all the elk hunters out there know how hard it is to kill an elk, and finally I killed mine and I'll never be able to touch it again."
He called Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks who directed him to the police. Now Missoula police are looking for whoever swiped it.
Travis Welsh with the Missoula Police Department said this kind of thing does happen, though not very often. They would treat it as a theft, but the tricky part would be determining its value. Welsh says the department would likely get help from other agencies to take into account the state's value of an elk as well as the cost of the tag and the cost of the hunt.
"The thing that I really don't like thinking about is that I'll only be able to look at this thing in my head, but somebody will buy it for a hundred bucks to sell at an auction as a chandelier or something like that, and it's just it's a horrible thing that happened," said Donaldson.
Thursday, the Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers announced a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the recovery of Donaldson's elk head.