On September 17th I spent most of the day checking archery hunters along the Continental Divide and returned home in the late afternoon just before a big storm rolled through the valley. At about 8:45 PM I received a call from the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline.
The reporting party heard an elk bugle and then a rifle shot (during an archery only hunt), and then saw elk running from the area. The reporting party had left just a half hour earlier, and there was only one other vehicle parked in the area. I ran the license plate information provided and it returned to Timothy Brown from Island Park.
I was quickly out the door again and driving on the Red Road back to the Divide. On my way I contacted Senior Conservation Officer Chris Johnson and Regional Conservation Officer Doug Petersen for assistance.
It was dark by the time I got to the Yale-Kilgore road, and no vehicles were in the area. RCO Petersen and SCO Johnson were in Island Park looking for Brown’s vehicle. SCO Johnson then reported seeing Brown’s vehicle back at his residence and watched him hook an ATV trailer up to his truck. We made the assumption that Brown had killed an animal and would be returning to pick it up at any time. If there was an illegal animal to transport, he would likely return during the night, so we set up on separate entry points to the road and waited for him to head back to the area.
I sat on a dark corner so I wouldn’t be spotted, and I was happy to find a handful of pretzels and extra water in my truck, the radio kept me from falling asleep. As the morning came around, hunters started making their way back up the roads. One vehicle stopped, it was the reporting party, “You caught him yet?”, “No, not yet” I said.
Around 8 AM, SCO Johnson reported that Brown had left his residence and was headed our direction. I watched the road as Brown drove by pulling his ATV trailer. SCO Johnson and RCO Petersen changed locations and watched Brown load an elk onto his ATV trailer. A landowner approached them and said that Brown had trespassed on their property to hunt. Once Brown was on the road again heading back to his residence I pulled him over because we had reason to believe the elk he was transporting had been shot with a rifle during archery season.
After looking at the elk it was clear that it had been shot with a rifle. Brown denied shooting the elk with a rifle, and said he had shot it with a bow (later he changed his story and stated that he had tagged and transported the wrong elk).
After collecting additional evidence and interviews, Brown was charged with trespassing to hunt and taking a big game animal with a rifle during archery season. Brown was later sentenced to unlawfully possessing a big game animal and received a hunting and trapping license revocation for three years, $821 in fines, and jail time.
Thanks to Citizens Against Poaching and the reporting party, another case was made which would have otherwise been undetected.