A big game hunter is suing the outfitter and guide services that took him on a hunting trip in Asia, claiming they fraudulently shipped him the wrong trophy horns.
Montana big game hunter Rick Vukasin was thrilled to kill a rare argali sheep, also known as a “Marco Polo,” on a hunting trip high up in the mountains of Tajikstan. He spent nearly $50,000 on the trip, hiring a Canadian outfitter, Ameri-Cana Expeditions, Inc. and world-renowned Tajikstani guide Yuri Matison to take him.
Vukasin said he was elated to bag such a rare trophy, and was excited at the thought of having the sheep’s 58-inch spiraling horns hanging on his wall.
More on Guided HuntsHow To Decide: Guided Hunts vs. Do It Yourself Hunts
But when he opened the shipping crate containing his trophy back at his Montana home, he found the wrong set of horns.
“I knew right away,” Vukasin told the Associated Press. “It made me sick.”
According to Vukasin, the horns in the box were chipped and weathered, and not the prized pair he’d taken in the mountains. He suspected they were at least a couple years old.
He said he’s been trying to get the big game outfitter and guide to send him the right horns or reimburse his trip, but has had no luck so far. When he contacted the outfitter, he claims they told him that they’d sent the right horns, and then later offered to send a replacement. He also said the outfitter’s co-owner told him, “It’s just hunting.”
Now, Vukasin is seeking $75,000 in damages in a U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada, citing loss of money, mental stress, anxiety, loss of sleep and physical and emotional damages. Why Reno? Both the Canadian outfitter and the guide attend trade expos in Reno to promote their businesses.
As for the chances of Vukasin winning the suit or getting the original horns back, the odds aren’t good. Vukasin said an FBI agent told him that he was likely a victim of fraud, but would need more big game hunters who claim to have been duped to step forward in order to make a case. Also, argali sheep are threatened species in Tajikstan, and the government has tight restrictions on hunting and shipping them.
“Granted, you can have bad weather or you might not see any animals or you might miss the shot. That’s hunting,” Vukasin told the AP. “But to shoot the animal and take pictures of it and then not to get it, somebody has to be responsible.”
Do you think Vukasin has a case? Or is he overreacting because “It’s just hunting?” Let us know in the comments section below.