Elk hunt turns into manhunt
November 17, 2006
For two Kansas visitors, an elk hunt turned into a manhunt Thursday.Daniel John Piland, a resident of Grand Junction, is a suspect in the alleged burglary of the Dinkle Lake campsite of Benny F. Jackson and Tim Perry of Piedmont, Kan.Jackson was watching the sunset from hilltop a few hundred yards from the campsite, outside of Carbondale, just after 5 p.m. Thursday. When he turned to walk back to the campsite, he said, “I heard a noise. It sounded like a spinner – a vehicle stuck.” As he got closer, he saw the headlights of a vehicle – what looked like an old Chevy Blazer – leaving the site. He called Perry, who was driving up the mountain toward the camp.When Jackson reached the tent, he noticed a lot of gear was missing and called Perry again.Perry, meanwhile, had just pulled over to let a vehicle pass him on Prince Creek Road. He turned his vehicle around to pursue the vehicle, copy down the license plate number and call 911.At 7:30 p.m., Aspen police recognized Piland’s Dodge Ram and matching plate as he pulled in front of Little Annie’s Eating House in Aspen. Police arrested Piland on charges of driving under the influence, prohibitive use of a weapon, and second-degree burglary and theft (both Class 4 felonies).”He ruined our hunting trip,” Jackson said. The two have driven from Kansas to Colorado a number of times to hunt elk. They spent $255 on doe elk hunting tags and rented horses from a local outfitter before setting up camp, but they only got a few days hunting before the theft. They were missing a saddle, their backpacks and a lot of camping gear, as well as some of the gear they’d rented from the outfitter.After a night in jail, Piland was out on $5,000 bond Friday afternoon.”The guy’s out and we’re still stuck here,” Jackson said at the police station. The two waited all day for authorities to process a search warrant on the car. “We’re the victims and he’s already gone. The wheels of justice move slow,” Jackson said. “We can only work with the facts,” said Ron Ryan, investigative coordinator for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Ryan was busy processing the warrant Thursday afternoon. He said he was frustrated he had to keep the men waiting but it was important to follow procedures on the warrant to eliminate any legal loopholes in the prosecution.”We’ll get them out of here tonight,” Ryan promised.Jackson and Perry will depart for Kansas as soon as they get their gear and break camp. The incident hasn’t deterred them from hunting in Colorado again: “Next time we’ll have better security,” Jackson said.”I’m just glad we didn’t meet in camp and have a shootout,” Jackson said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.