HOLDEN, W.Va. — Logan County hunter Chase Herndon is no stranger to the outdoors. The 16 year old from Holden, West Virginia is a former world archery champion and has several trophy deer hanging on his wall, but he recently made a discovery which may be one of his biggest trophies–even though he won’t get to keep it.
Chase recently discovered a shed elk antler in the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County. Herndon is quite familiar with the territory, it literally sits in his back yard. Shed hunting is a popular activity in the southern coalfields, an area well known for some of the largest whitetail deer in West Virginia. It’s also the location of the recently reintroduced elk population. But Herdon said he wasn’t there looking for sheds specifically.
“I was in there with my girlfriend looking for deer about 6:30 in the evening. They’ll usually be out in the grass at that time of the day,” he said.
Even though it was July, Chase had to admit when he first spotted it from a distance, he got a little buck fever.
“All I could see was three tines sticking up and I thought it was a big buck!” he laughed. “I got really excited, but when I got closer I found out what it was and in my 16 years that’s probably the most valuable one I’ve ever found and it’s the only one I’ve heard of anybody around here finding.”
Chase knew the rules and when he made the discovery, he simply observed it, noted the location, and moved on. State law forbids anyone from taking elk antlers for themselves. Instead of collecting the shed, Chase reported it to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
“My dad and I have talked about that what if you find one and how hard it would be to leave it, but you have to do what’s right and leave it lay,” he said.
Wednesday, he led DNR Elk Project Leader Randy Kelly and Governor Jim Justice deep into the Tomblin WMA to show them the shed. Kelly collected it and Governor Justice had high praise for the teen.
“I’m really proud that Chase did the right thing and got in touch with my office when he came across this antler,” Gov. Justice said. “He’s a true outdoorsman like me and it’s great to see a young hunter respecting this piece of nature so it could be retrieved the right way.”
Back in 2016, at age 14, Chase won the Archery in Schools World Championship and later that same year killed an 11 point buck in Logan County which scored 178 6/8ths typical, one of the biggest ever taken in West Virginia.
He won’t get to hang the West Virginia elk shed on his wall though, that remains state property. Instead, the agency gave him a DNR ballcap and the gratitude of West Virginia sportsmen.
“Having the Governor there is something I’ll never forget because not many people can say they’ve shared these hills with the Governor. That’s pretty awesome.”