OLATHE, Kan. — Police in one Johnson County city wonder if someone might’ve been hunting for something to steal.

A taxidermist in Olathe told the police department someone took a rate elk skull with a large rack of antlers right off his driveway. The skull belongs to one of his customers.

Rickey Akers, a full-time firefighter who moonlights as a taxidermist, said he had an enormous elk skull and antlers drying on his driveway in Olathe. He was preparing to mount it for a customer last Tuesday. Akers said sunshine usually provides good warmth for drying. 

Akers told FOX4 he went inside the house for 15 minutes, and when he returned, someone had stolen the skull and antlers. Akers said the big prize was perhaps more than 5 feet high and difficult to carry.

“If you’re a hunter, you understand the value of this trophy,” Akers said Monday,” Akers said. “It’s a pretty big set of antlers. An elk is not a small animal.”

“It’s a big enough trophy that it can’t just go into a car. It would have had to have been a really big van or truck, more than likely or even a trailer it could have gone in.”

The elk skull was drying alongside a cow skull he was preparing for another customer. Akers said customers often prefer skulls bleached and mounted for display. Bagging a huge elk is a rare reward for seasoned hunters.

“To buy a set somewhere — maybe 250 to 400 bucks? But in general, to that hunter, it’s priceless because you don’t get that opportunity back for something like that,” Akers continued.

Bruce Layne, a disabled U.S. Air Force officer, owns the stolen skull. Layne bagged the elk during a recent hunting trip to Idaho, and it took three men to haul the 1,000-pound beast off a mountainside in a remote area.

“I hate to say it, but there’s people out there who could have realized the rarity of what it is and taken it for that reason. I just wish they’d bring it back,” Layne said.

Akers, as well as Olathe Police, are searching for video that might show who stole the skull and antlers. The rest of the animal is currently frozen and eventually will feed Layne’s family. Layne stresses he doesn’t hunt exclusively for trophies, but the skull and antlers are a keepsake he earned.

Akers said the security cameras outside his home weren’t recording that day last week. He said he learned that lesson the hard way, and now, they record 24/7. Layne said there’s a small cash reward for the return of that skull. 

If you have information that can help the police, please contact the Olathe Police Department. 

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