Sean Doney, 33, of Caryville, Tenn. has pleaded guilty to illegally killing a cow elk on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area (NCWMA) in Campbell County.

As reported on, a $2,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

TWRA Elk Biologist Brad Miller got the call and found the dead elk on Dec. 23, 2019. The elk was wearing a GPS collar designated “Cow #15” as part of a 3-year elk research study with the University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.

After an investigation and assistance from the local district attorney, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer Brenden Marlow charged Doney after he was identified by members of the public in result of rewards offered.

In an interview with WATE-TV following his arrest, Doney said he had never been hunting before and the killing of the elk was an accident.

“I would like to apologize to everyone because this was not intentional, it was a complete accident, I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart, and I will do anything I can to help try to fix the situation,” he said.

Doney will face 30 days of jail time for Hunting Big Game in Closed Season, Hunting Without a License, Hunting without Hunter Education, Illegal Take of Big Game, and Failure to Retrieve Game on a WMA. He will also pay $350 in restitution to the TWRA.


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