A deer hunter's quick action and memory for detail recently helped Fish and Game conservation officers nab a pair of elk poachers.
Jason Burton, of Boise and Daniel Hileman, of Nampa now must pay more than $3,000 in fines and choose between jail time or community service for poaching a spike elk during a closed season.
Near Idaho City on October 30 - a full week after the elk season closed in the area - Burton and Hileman (who was apparently just along for the walk) spotted fresh elk tracks headed into a thicket. Hileman flushed a spike elk, and Burton shot and killed the young bull. After field dressing the animal, the two men dragged it to a trail, then decided to return the next day to retrieve the carcass.
Before they arrived the next morning, a deer hunter hiking the trail found the poached animal. "Even though it was the last day of deer season, this sportsman took the time to contact Fish and Game and report this crime," Fish and Game Conservation Officer Bill London noted. "He provided us with many fine details, including the elk's exact location, a description of the tire tracks at the trail head, even the brand of cigarettes apparently smoked by the poachers."
London and fellow Conservation Officer Brain Marek arrived at the trail head to find Burton and Hileman at their vehicle preparing to load the illegal elk. "Everything fit the hunter's description, down to the tire tracks of the vehicle and the brand of cigarettes Burton was smoking," London explained. Initially, the two men claimed to have found the elk and that they were intent on transporting it to Fish & Game. As the conversation continued, both confessed to the crime. Officer Marek also discovered that Burton had purchased an elk tag for another area that morning, with the intent of covering up the poaching by claiming to have killed the elk in an area still open to hunting.