Two Grant County men have been charged with multiple poaching violations.
Auston Catron, 18, of John Day was charged with unlawful taking of an antelope and waste of a game mammal, and Jonas Waite, 19, of Grant County was charged with aiding in the unlawful take of an antelope and aiding in the waste of a big game animal, according to an Oregon State Police press release.
On April 16, OSP troopers from the John Day Worksite assisted John Day Police Department with the execution of a search warrant at a local residence regarding an ongoing theft investigation involving Catron. Catron was booked into the Grant County Jail April 16 on theft and other charges, according to the jail roster, but no public charges have been filed against him yet in Grant County Circuit Court.
During the warrant service, a pronghorn buck skull was observed near an outbuilding of the residence, and that information was forwarded to OSP Fish & Wildlife troopers, according to OSP.
Troopers executed a search warrant at Catron’s residence on April 28. During the service, they located the pronghorn buck skull, six buck deer skulls and a bull elk skull, all of which were seized as evidence, and Waite was identified as another suspect, according to OSP.
Troopers learned that, during the fall of 2019, Catron unlawfully shot the antelope buck from a motor vehicle while Waite assisted in the Murderers Creek Management Unit, and after shooting and killing the antelope, Catron and Waite removed the head and skull and left the rest of the animal to waste, according to OSP.
Additionally, neither Catron nor Waite possessed a 2019 antelope tag, which is required in order to hunt for or take antelope. Further information revealed that Catron and Waite were also involved in the unlawful killing of multiple deer over the past two years as well as Waite’s unlawful killing of a golden eagle, according to OSP.
Waite’s rifle, a .22-250, was identified as the weapon used in the taking and was subsequently seized as evidence, according to OSP. Additional charges will be forwarded for consideration.
According to Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division Sgt. Erich Timko, only 54 antelope tags are available in the Murderers Creek unit for the 2020 big game season, and typically, it takes an Oregon resident approximately 10 years to successfully draw the tag.