As of Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Last month, an Idaho Department of Fish and Game Salmon River jet boat patrol happened upon what one officer described as a man in bloody pants with “blood on his hands and arms.”
The man was later identified as Paul Roger Cortez of Nampa, and, according to court documents, the blood on his hands may have been that of a bighorn ram investigators found gutted Nov. 6 at a camp roughly four miles above the Vinegar Creek Boat Ramp.
Allegations described in the written reports of senior conservation officers Roy Kinner and Dennis Brandt were filed with the district magistrate court, which on Nov. 16 ordered $10,000 bail on felony poaching charges; he bonded out the next day, and is due in court for arraignment on Dec. 14.
Cortez was also cited for marijuana-related misdemeanors.
The court filings describe how the officers disembarked from the boat into a scene of “disarray.”
As the officers — Kinner, Brandt, Brian Perkes and Craig Mickelson — moved into camp, Kinner allegedly heard Cortez say “I shot a sheep...I got a ram, I probably screwed up here.”
After looking over the field dressed carcass, Kinner secured a rifle — a Stevens Bolt Action Model 200 in .300 Win Mag topped with a Bushnell 3x9 scope — and secured a hunting knife that was next to the rifle.
According to Kinner’s filings, a bullet measuring .307 inches by caliper was located among the entrails Cortez buried in a hole in the sand — a diameter that both Kinner’s and Brandt’s filings suggest would match the rifle’s caliber.
According to Brandt’s filings the camp “looked in disarray with items strewn around and not in an orderly fashion.”
Brandt interviewed Cortez, who allegedly said he was going to try to buy a tag in town, and that he had discussed doing so with his son-in-law the day before.
In Idaho, bighorn sheep are considered a trophy species; drawing and filling a bighorn sheep tag is a once-in-a-lifetime event few hunters are lucky and skilled enough to achieve.