Missouri girl, 14, faces social media bullying after shooting elk she mistook for buck

A 14-year-old Missouri girl spotted giant antlers and pulled the trigger, thinking she had just nabbed a white-tailed buck, only to discover the animal was an elk — an innocent mistake that some social media users have bullied her about, her father said.

Abby Wilson was hunting in Boone County when she spotted an animal with antlers and brown fur Saturday, Springfield News-Leader reported Monday. She fired her rifle, shooting and killing what she thought was a buck.

"She called her dad, who was hunting nearby, and her dad realized it was an elk," Tom Strother, protection regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said. "The dad called our agent in Boone County, Adam Doerhoff, and said, 'We think we just shot an elk.’”

He added: "She saw antlers, she saw the body. She thought it was a deer and took the shot. This young girl probably had never seen an elk in the wild before.”

Doerhoff said the father sent him a picture. He admitted he was surprised to see the dead elk carcass.

"You don't expect to see something like that," Doerhoff said. "I've learned to never say never."

Donald White, Wilson’s father, told Fox News his daughter has been bullied by adults on social media for the accident. He said the “crazy” incident has led to “hatred [toward] a child.”

“Everyone is a keyboard hero these days. 75 percent of people would've said nothing at all and left the elk. Or they would've took it home. And the conservation would never knew,” White said in a statement to Fox News. “When I put my post up on Facebook yes I was a excited Dad. And also I wanted to make people aware that there is elk in northern Missouri."

donald white

Donald White said his daughter has faced social media bullying since the incident.  (Donald White)

There’s no hunting season for elk in Missouri. The state’s conservation department reintroduced the animal at Peck Ranch Conservation Area in 2011 and is currently growing a herd. However, the elk Wilson shot was about 200 miles away from the herd, Springfield News-Leader reported.

"There are no reports of elk in this area. It was kind of a surprise to us. There was no evidence of any ear tags or collars on this one,” Strother said.

Officials are conducting DNA tests to determine where the elk came from and are hoping trail cameras will provide some clues. It took five men to remove the elk that had four points on each antler. The animal is being kept in a cooler and its meat will be donated after the test.

The antlers might also serve an educational purpose — to help hunters differentiate between an elk and a buck. White told Fox News he would like to have the elk’s antlers, but would be happy to have it be used to educate others. 

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam