In early November of 2016, an Elmore County officer pulled up to two hunters with a 4x4 buck off the side of the road in unit 45. The officer looked the buck over and reminded the men to tag the animal. He made note of the vehicle and plate before leaving the guys to the long job ahead of them.
Shortly thereafter, some others drove by and noticed the hunters could use help loading a large buck. The good Samaritans pulled over to lend a hand. They knew there were no November hunts open for antlered mule deer in unit 45, but they didn’t discuss those concerns with the hunters. They called the violation in.
The call reached conservation officers Jeff Day and Dustin Masin. The Elmore County officer provided Fish and Game with a license plate number after hearing the description of the vehicle they were searching for. Hours of driving down dirt roads and up highways proved fruitless. Masin began heading over to the address associated with the license plate when he saw the vehicle driving down the highway. Before Masin could activate his lights and sirens, the driver pulled over to the shoulder.
After pulling in behind the vehicle, Masin got out, and so did the driver. When asked why he pulled over the driver said, “I figured you guys were looking for me.” He was the only person in the car and told Masin that a friend of his shot a buck that morning and they had brought it to his shop in Mountain Home. He claimed that he didn’t know what tags his friend had or that anything illegal had happened.
Day and Masin contacted the shooter to get his perspective of events. He claimed he didn’t see antlers in the morning light and was hunting for a doe under his legal 45 antlerless deer tag. That tag was still in his license holder and was not validated.
When the story finally started to line up and the inconsistencies were ironed out, they all drove to the shop in Mountain Home where officers found the buck hanging in the rafters with a validated, expired elk tag.
The shooter was cited for taking a big game animal during closed season and the driver was cited for transporting unlawfully taken big game. Fines and penalties totaled $1,205.00 and the shooter lost his license privileges for 1 year.
The caller was rewarded $300 through Citizens Against Poaching for providing crucial information.