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DA’s report details shooting

Hunter said he thought he heard, saw an elk when he shot his friend

Christine Metz

A report filed with the District Attorney’s Office details how a Wisconsin man accidentally shot and killed a longtime friend last fall during a hunting trip in South Routt County.

Douglas Jones told investigators he heard a noise in the brush and said he saw an elk with maybe six points, according to the DA’s report. But what he fired at through the fog early in the morning of Sept. 20 was no elk; it was Gerald Holverson.

Jones and Holverson had been friends since they were schoolmates in the 1970s and had hunted together many times, the DA’s report states. Now, Holverson is dead, and Jones has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in connection with the shooting.

Jones, 44, of South Wayne, Wis., is scheduled to appear in Routt County court Feb. 17. The felony summons was issued last Wednesday.

When the shooting occurred, Jones and Holverson were among six men from Wisconsin and Illinois hunting on Bureau of Land Management land about a mile west of Waller Reservoir in the King Mountain area.

The hunters told investigators they rode horses from a hunting cabin to a large meadow in the early morning of Sept. 20.

Jones, his 15-year-old son and an Illinois man decided to head north to the Elk Creek Ranch fence line, and two other Illinois men and Holverson headed east toward the reservoir, the report said.

Jones and the two men with him heard movements in an area covered with thick brush, the report said. One of the other hunters in the group made a cow call and the movement stopped, leading Jones to believe the noise was a bull elk, the hunters told investigators in the report.

Jones said he thought he saw a large rack with maybe six points, the legs and backside of an elk, the report said. Jones then asked Leon Sack, who was nearby and had hunted the area for 17 years, if he thought he should shoot.

“I thought I saw an elk walk from my left to right. I asked Leon if I should shoot or not,” Jones wrote in a statement. “And he said if I thought I could get it, go ahead. When I shot through the brush, I heard Jerry yell and someone else there say ‘no.'”

The group sent Jones’ son and one of the Illinois men, Jeffery Parks, to a nearby ranch for help. By the time paramedics arrived, Holverson had died.

Holverson’s death was due to a lacerated right lung and heart, the Routt County Coroner’s report stated.

Jones told investigators it was dim and foggy with a ring around the moon when the shooting took place. Testimony varies but indicates Holverson was shot between 5:45 and 6 a.m. The only piece of orange clothing found on Holverson was an orange hat. In the report, witnesses said Holverson usually wore an orange vest, but that day it was found in his pack.

The hunters had been hunting for about a week, according to the report. The night before, Parks hit an elk with an arrow, and the group had attempted to track it, the hunters told investigators.

On Sept. 20, the group had agreed to hunt for about an hour and then look for the deer they hit the previous day, one of the witnesses said in the report.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Jones and the witnesses shortly after Holverson’s death. Sheriff’s Investigator Rachelle Redmond and DA Investigator Ray Birch flew to Wisconsin in November to conduct more interviews.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com


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