UPDATED ON: May 1st, 2015
BUFFALO – An anonymous report Sept. 14, 2012 led to a recent conviction of a Buffalo man for shooting a trophy bull elk with a rifle during the 2012 archery-only season and without the proper license.
The investigation also discovered additional violations of a game animal being used for black bear bait and an accessory to elk being shot with a rifle during archery season.
On April 19, 2013, Kelly L. Camino, 37, was fined $17,080 and had his hunting privileges suspended for five years to taking an antlered animal without the proper license and taking a big game animal with a rifle during the archery only season. He was sentenced by Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Shelly Cundiff in Buffalo, who also ordered the forfeiture of Camino’s new Ruger 7 mm magnum bolt action rifle.â€¨
“Thanks to information from a concerned citizen, we were able to catch up with a hunter who cheated by using a rifle to kill a terrific bull elk, when only archery equipment was legal and bull elk were very vulnerable,” said Jim Seeman, Buffalo game warden. “I commend the judge for taking this violation very seriously and handing down a significant sentence.”
Late evening Sept. 14, 2013, Seeman received a telephone call from an anonymous hunter who had been hunting in a hunt area adjacent to area 49. The hunter reported a shot around sunset from the area known as Sawmill Creek. The next morning Seeman visited a hunting camp in the Sawmill drainage and asked if anyone had any luck. He was told Camino harvested a large bull elk the day before, but had already returned to Buffalo.
After four unsuccessful attempts to contact Camino at his residence Sept. 15, Seeman found him at home the next morning. Camino said he killed a bull elk with archery equipment the evening of Sept. 14 in the adjoining hunt area 34. He refused to show the game warden the carcass, which he said was hanging at a friend’s house. Camino did offer to take Seeman to the kill site and show him the gut pile.
In unsuccessfully searching for the gut pile that afternoon, Camino offered that it may have been completely scavenged, but Seeman contended there would still be very evident sign of it after only two days. Four hours of searching failed to produce a gut pile or any sign of a recent elk harvest. On the drive back to Buffalo, Camino admitted to shooting the elk in the wrong area and with a rifle.â€¨
“Although elk areas 49 and 34 are adjoining, 34 is easier to draw at 98 percent versus 82 percent drawing odds in 49,” Seeman said.
About a week later Seeman and Kaycee Game Warden Kyle Lash located the kill site in hunt area 49 and found elk remains including legs, rib cage and the brisket with an embedded 7 mm bullet. The Wyoming Crime Lab later determined the bullet was fired from Camino’s rifle.
The officers also discovered some of the elk remains were being used for black bear bait – which is a violation in Wyoming. Luke J. Camino, 21, Kelly’s brother, pleaded guilty Oct. 17, 2012 to using a game animal as black bear bait and paid a $125 fine.
In addition, the investigation discovered Kelly Camino was accompanied by James W. Hansen of Sheridan who helped field dress and pack out the illegally taken bull elk and had given Camino his area 49 cow elk license to fill. Hansen was cited as an accessory to Kelly Camino’s crime, but in a plea agreement between his attorney and Johnson County Deputy Attorney Ryan Wright, Hansen, 34, pleaded guilty April 11, 2013 to a lesser charge of unlawful transfer of a big game license and was fined $1,000.
“I would also like to give a special thank you to Johnson County Deputy Attorney Ryan Wright, who spent a considerable amount of time and effort with this case,” Seeman said.
The 6-by-6 elk antlers, which scored 352 6/8 points on the Boone and Crockett scale, were ordered by the court to be forfeited to the Game and Fish and will be used for educational purposes.