Caryville man remorseful after killing elk, says it was accidental

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CARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – We’re hearing from the Caryville man charged with illegally shooting and killing an elk in Campbell County.

Sean Doney was charged with five violations after he admitted to killing a cow elk on the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area last month.

Doney is now sharing his side of the story with WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel.

Doney making it clear this was not intentional, admitting he did kill the elk, but apologizing because he says it was a complete accident.

“It’s very sad, and I’m very sorry, I’m very sorry to everyone,” he said.

The animal was part of a 3-year elk research study with the University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.

“For me to take a life of something like that, I don’t sleep, I have nightmares,” Doney said.

He explained he was with his brother in the Red Ash area of North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area, picking up his brother’s hunting blind and holding his brother’s rifle.

“It was pitch black outside, and we were going up and kept hearing all this rustling and rustling and rustling. I’ve never been hunting a day in my life, ever. And I was scared, I hate to say it I was scared, and it kept getting closer and closer and closer, and I fired a shot,” Doney said.

The act prompted two local organizations to issue a $2,000 reward for information leading to the person responsible. Doney says after he spotted the elk in daylight the next morning, he immediately turned himself in.

“I admitted to it. Yes ma’am, I did kill that elk. But it was a complete accident,” he said.

The last couple of weeks have been tough. He’s been feeling ashamed, he says, and now hoping to get his side across.

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

Doney is set to appear in Campbell County General Sessions Court on Feb. 20. His charges include 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 wildlife management area.

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