(1985, Montana) Two locals decided to increase their income by illegally transporting shed elk antlers out of Yellowstone Park. The antlers sell for about $7 a pound, and a big set can weigh thirty pounds, making their theft a lucrative venture.
The two men, dollar signs in their eyes, thought long and hard about the best way to get the largest haul of antlers out of the park without being observed. Cars were too risky because there was a ranger checkpoint on the roads. Backpacks couldn't carry enough to make it worth their while. They decided to use a boat.
Well, not exactly a boat. A rubber raft.
These two entrepreneurs decided to take the raft on a nighttime voyage on the Gardiner River, which runs out of Yellowstone and through the town of Gardiner, to minimize their chance of being spotted.
After loading the raft to the bursting point with pointy antlers, the men pushed off and began their journey. It was late springtime, so the river, hazardous in all seasons, now had twice the normal flow of water. They hadn't gone far before they hit some treacherous rapids, and the bouncing antlers punctured the raft.
Deprived of transportation, the men had to fend for themselves against the current. One of the antler thieves swam to shore, hiked the road, and hitched a ride into town. The other was not so lucky. A week later he floated onto a beach used by local sunbathers.
I know because I'm the one who found him, and I was also in the car when my cousin gave his buddy a ride into town the week before.
Readers Shed Light on the Antlers
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Reference: Jeff Pope