During the morning of September 24th, 2017, an archery hunter was hunting elk in Big Game Management Unit 36. It was near the end of the September archery season. He heard several rifle shots ring out close to where he was hunting. He didn’t know exactly where the shots had come from but he knew they were too close to be outside of unit 36. Later that day, he noticed a truck with a bull elk in the bed parked around the same area where he had heard the shots. He remembered a blue truck parked in the same spot a few days earlier. And that both trucks were from a camp not too far away. He grabbed license plate numbers and MADE THE CALL.
On September 25 Senior Conservation Officer Kyle Christiansen contacted the owner of the pickup the bull was in, Higinio Contreras-Ontiveros from Caldwell, ID. Higinio said that he had shot a bull elk with a rifle the day before. And his dad, Jeronimo Contreras-Gomez, also from Caldwell, ID, shot a bull elk with a rifle a few days earlier in the same location. Higinio said he thought both he and his dad were in unit 27 when they harvested their elk. Both Higinio and Jeronimo had tagged their elk with Middle Fork B elk tags which are valid for unit 27. Unit 27 has a rifle elk hunt during part of September. Higinio took the officer to the location of where both elk were harvested. According to the GPS, both elk were killed in unit 36 and were about two miles, as the bird flies, away from the unit 27 boundary.
On September 26th Senior Conservation Officer Craig Mickelson contacted Higinio and Jeronimo at their homes in Caldwell to interview them about their hunt. Both Higinio and Jeronimo admitted to killing their elk in BGMU 36 and doing so with rifles. Officer Mickelson seized the 6X7 antlers and all the meat from the elk Higinio had killed as well as the 5X5 antlers and all the meat from the elk Jeronimo had killed. Higinio and Jeronimo each received citations for "possession of elk taken unlawfully." They were both issued warnings for "taking the elk with firearms during an archery only season" and for "possessing and transporting the elk without evidence of sex."
Higinio and Jeronimo plead guilty in Custer County Court on October 16th, 2017. They each received a total of $1,465 for all fines and fees as well as a one year revocation of their hunting licenses.
Thanks to the anonymous archery hunter who took time to MAKE THE CALL!