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Catching a poacher



By Paul Miller

In 1972 the national park service received information about an outfitter from southeastern Idaho who was illegally taking elk out of the Southwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.

That same year, I was hired on as a backcountry ranger to patrol the area. I was given a wall tent and two horses 14.5 miles in from the last road as my base of operation. This base was close to area where the outfitter was supposedly flying in with a super cub with big tires.

The report said he would spot an elk from the air, fly in with a client who would shoot the elk, then fly the animal out. The elk was flown out of the area while the hunter waited on the ground for the guide to return with the plane.

I was assigned to patrol the area and see if I could catch him in the act. I patrolled regularly on horseback but wasn’t sure how to catch him.

That fall, I rode 10 miles to the west toward the Buffalo Lake Patrol cabin. I heard some voices toward the cabin area, so I got off, tied my horses and stealthily went in.

There was the outfitter with three clients. They had broken into the patrol cabin and were using it for a hunting lodge. My two-watt radio was worthless in that area, but I pretended like I was calling in the location and the guide’s name.

They grabbed their guns, I grabbed mine, and it was a standoff until they put theirs away. I took their guns, went inside, hooked my radio up to the cabin antennae, and called in the situation.

The outfitter quit his activity in the Park, and I haven’t heard since if he resumed.

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