A northeast Missouri deer hunter thought he was shooting a big buck, but it turns out it was an elk.
The Missouri Department of Conservation told KTVO the Kirksville hunter mistakenly shot it over the weekend on private property near the Adair/Macon County line, thinking it was a whitetail deer.
He told the department through the brush it looked like a deer.
Conservation Agent Marsha Jones said elk are a protected species in Missouri, and there is not a hunting season for them.
An investigation is underway to determine if the elk escaped from a captive herd or somewhere else.
Jones said the hunter, whose name is not being released, did the right thing by notifying them when he realized he had killed it.
â??We wanted to make sure that it wasnâ??t with chronic disease. We had worries about disposing of it or giving it to anybody so we disposed of it in the landfill,â?? said Matt Wolken from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The elk's head was sent to a meat processing business in Macon to be examined for Chronic Wasting Disease and other viruses.
No charges are being filed in connection with the incident.