Wyoming news briefs for June 14

Refuge proposes pronghorn, white-tailed hunts

JACKSON –  The National Elk Refuge is proposing its first-ever white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope hunts.

For much of its 109-year history, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-run refuge has authorized hunting of its namesake species, elk. And since 2007, it has allowed bison hunting within its boundaries.

The proposed addition of pronghorn and white-tailed deer hunts traces to talks with the state of Wyoming, plus a secretarial order that directed the National Wildlife Refuge System to expand hunting opportunities around the country.

The refuge’s proposal, for the most part, would align white-tailed deer and pronghorn hunting seasons on the 24,700-acre property with hunts that occur on surrounding national forest and nearby private land.

Unlike elk hunting on the refuge — which can thin the herd by hundreds of animals in a season — deer and antelope hunts would be relatively minor in scale.

The refuge falls within Game and Fish’s pronghorn hunt area 85, where no more than 20 animals can be killed in a season.

Tentatively, the pronghorn season on the refuge would run from Aug. 15 to Sept. 9 for archery, and then would open to firearms from Sept. 10 through Oct. 31. A more southerly portion of the refuge would be open only to firearm pronghorn hunting in October.

The refuge’s proposal would authorize a two-month deer hunting season, switching from archery to firearms in the middle of September. 

The refuge falls within Game and Fish’s deer hunting area 155, which is open to any resident hunter holding an over-the-counter general tag.

Comments on the proposal are being accepted through June 21. Email them to Durbian at [email protected].


Gillette man changes plea to no contest in manslaughter charge

GILLETTE – A Gillette man pleaded no contest to one count of manslaughter Wednesday.

Joshua Lewis Campbell, 22, was charged in the June 2, 2020 death of 21-year-old Tanner Miller.

District Judge Thomas W. Rumpke called the incident  “incredibly stupid gunplay by young men who did not realize their own mortality.”

An affidavit in the case said Miller, Campbell and another friend had gone to the apartment after having dinner with another friend. At about 9 p.m., they left to buy more alcohol and then went back to the apartment. Before Miller parked the vehicle, he let Campbell and the other man out so they could get into the apartment.

The two “as a prank, locked the apartment door and shut the lights off,” according to the affidavit. “They were going to use rifles to scare Miller when he came in.”

The other man checked the 30-30 rifle he had to make sure it wasn’t loaded but didn’t know if Campbell checked the AR-15 he had, it said.

“Campbell then unlocked the door and Tanner walked into the apartment and turned on the lights,” according to the affidavit.

Campbell then reportedly fired a shot at Miller, according to the affidavit. A forensic pathologist estimated the rifle was fired no farther than 3 inches from the left side of his head.

Campbell, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.103%, told police that he thought it was an intruder.

In October, Campbell pleaded not guilty. On Wednesday, he pleaded no contest in a change of plea hearing.  He will remain out on bond until he’s sentenced.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 14. Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.


Truck arrestor catches pickup that lost its brakes Friday

JACKSON — The Teton Pass truck arrestor is back in action.

A Toyota Tacoma pickup lost its brakes Friday morning coming down the eastern side of Teton Pass, but the driver steered into the arrestor, Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Brackin said. 

The arrestor, which has a series of cable nets intended to slow an out-of-control vehicle, "worked flawlessly."

The first net slowed the pickup, which stopped about 50 feet after entering the arrestor. The driver, Brackin said, walked away from the crash. 

The structure required extensive repairs after a truck hauling logs went through all but the last few cable nets in September 2019. The Wyoming Department of Transportation then installed a sand barrel array as a temporary fix while it figured out how to repair the structure.

Although the Tacoma probably wasn't the biggest test, the arrestor seems to be up and running again.