Man admits to killing bear

Kent Nightwalker says shot was only intended to scare bear away


— An Eighth Street resident admitted to killing a bear in downtown Steamboat Springs on July 20, but he said the shot was intended only to scare the bear away.

Kent Nightwalker said he intended to shoot into the dirt to scare the bear away from the alley behind his home. Instead, he said, he accidentally killed the 200- to 300-pound male bear. Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said officers are continuing their investigation and have not issued a citation in the case.

Nightwalker said he was loading his car for a planned business trip July 20 when a bear "popped up, 4 or 5 feet" in front of him and went after the trash in a neighbor's driveway at about 9:40 p.m.

Nightwalker said he slammed his car door, ran inside and called 911. The dispatcher reportedly told him to go inside and wait until the bear left the area. Call logs show a call was placed from Nightwalker's phone number at 9:59 p.m.

"But I was working; I was getting ready to leave town. I went inside, I packed my clothes, watched television for a few minutes, and he was still wrestling around with this trash can," Nightwalker said.

That's when Nightwalker got a rifle, which was a gun his father handed down to him and that Nightwalker described as a .248, and went outside. He said he did not want to "cower" in his home while the bear was outside.

"I brought it up. I was going to shoot down in the dirt near it to try to get it to leave," he said. "It was wrestling around with the trash can. I couldn't even see it; I could just see a little tiny bit of brown on its head."

The bear was "10 to 20 feet" away from Nightwalker, he said, and when he shot, he thought he missed because the bear continued to move. He said he then went back inside and decided to leave for his trip the next day.

A second call from a neighbor, reporting the dead bear, came at 10:13 p.m.

Nightwalker said nobody came to his house that night and that he did not know what was going on in the alley behind his home as police responded to the scene. The bear reportedly was shot in the back of the head just below the skull.

The next day, he said, he saw a trail of blood and realized he had shot the bear. He then left on the planned business trip to Montana.

Nightwalker said he is not a hunter and has never purchased a gun.

He said he could understand the skepticism of people who hear his story.

"People say 'When you walk out with a rifle, what's your intention?' Well my intention was to get that thing away from me. I hit it unintentionally," he said.

Nightwalker said he was frustrated with the bear digging through trash and was eager to leave for his trip.

"I wasn't trying to be some big person. I had business to take care of. There is a bear problem, and they're not going to make me cower in my own home," he said.

"It was a stupid fluke of luck that I hit that thing. It was probably stupid I even went out there," he said. "I am at fault, don't get me wrong. I chose to go out there and try to scare it off with a big rifle."

He said he has seen bears in the area before but has not called the police about this bear in the past. He said he has called about bears in other locations and was frustrated by the response.

Even so, he said that if he were confronted with another bear in the future he would not choose to confront it. Instead, he said, he would call the police and "badger them" until an officer responded.

When Nightwalker called 911 that night, the DOW was notified but did not go to the scene until after the second call reporting the bear had been shot.

DOW officers in cooperation with the 14th Judicial District attorney will decide what, if any, charges Nightwalker will face. Officers and prosecutors could issue a citation or charge him ranging up to felony level.

District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said she expects a decision within the next week.


stephb 7 years, 9 months ago

Bandmama, that is great....Love your comment!


stillinsteamboat 7 years, 9 months ago

It was important to get to work. then decided to leave the next day. hmmmm. doesn't pass the smell test. Did he call the police right away to report the incident or did the police have to come and find you Kent?


upstream 7 years, 9 months ago

where to begin...dude, you are SO lucky that your darn "fluke of luck" didn't put your bullet in the back of a neighbor's skull. Clearly you are not a hunter (more like a thug). I guess if you were actually a hunter or even remotely trained in firearm/ hunter safety you would not have even considered shooting at something you claim you could not see "to scare it"... not to mention- you would never consider firing your rifle in the streets of your neighborhood. Just a thought, but if the wildlife we share this valley with are such an impedance to your high pressure lifestyle and the responses you get to your complaints are so unsatisfactory...sounds like time for you to move to the big smoke where the wildlife has all been run off long ago.


blinger 7 years, 9 months ago

Is it just me or does this guy come off as a total tool??

"I wasn't trying to be some big person. I had business to take care of. There is a bear problem and they're not going to make me cower in my own home," he said.

You had business?? Like packing your car for a business trip the NEXT day?? Cower?? Just close the door man. WHAT A JOKE!! I hope this guy gets charged for something.


jk 7 years, 9 months ago

I am not condoning this guys actions in any way, Anyone who has taken a hunter safety course, or has any common sense for that manner, understands that discharging a high powered rifle in a neighborhood is insane. That being said I think the DOW around here needs to get off their butts and start addressing this issue. With all of the mamma bears teaching their cubs to stroll on into town and forage through the trash instead of foraging in the woods, the issue will only get worse. The community is being educated, the bear proof trash cans are out, now it is time to start relocating a few repeat offenders.


aichempty 7 years, 9 months ago

In the future, the sensible thing for anyone who has called 911 and been told "go inside and wait until the bear leaves" should call back one more time, and then if there's no response, crank up your stereo and start honking your horn until the whole neighborhood calls 911 to complain about YOU.

If the bears are constantly bothering your trash, it's very easy to put up 4 "t-post" fence posts (you can even set them in concrete poured into buckets to make them movable) and install an electric fence around the trash cans. Two wires strung a few inches apart, with one of them "hot" and the other connected to the "ground" lead on the fence charger so that the animal has to touch both at the same time will deliver a convincing shock and deter further exploration. This kind of setup can be done for less than $100 (yeah, I know that's a lot for some people) but it will solve the problem. It can also be put on a timer or even a photocell switch so that it only runs after dark.

A relative of mine had problems with her dogs climbing over or digging out of her fenced yard. She installed a setup like this with charged wires at the top, and near the bottom, of the fence, and now the dogs won't even try to get out.

Posting "Warning Electric Fence" signs to warn people is easy to do, and the signs are easy to find (on the internet). Tractor Supply Company has all of this stuff available online.

So, 4 "t" posts, one bag (about 20 in a bag) of 6" stand-off insulators, 3 or 4 "Warning" signs and the smallest A/C powered fence charger suitable for "large" animals is all it would take to make the bear go 50 feet away and bother your neighbor's trash instead of yours.

Or maybe DOW could just come out and tranquilize and relocate the repeat offenders like they're supposed to. If somebody is going to be up all night listening to trash cans rattle in town, shouldn't it be DOW?


Martha D Young 7 years, 9 months ago

So it's the bears' fault that humans leave their trash where the bears can forage in it. How is this a bear or DOW problem? It's a human problem, and will be until people start takiing responsibility for where they leave their trash.


housepoor 7 years, 9 months ago

still isn't it a crime for taking a pot shot with a gun in the city limits? just another example a responsible gun owner............


jk 7 years, 9 months ago

housepoor, that statement is about as stupid as firing a rifle in town. Martha, the DOWs job is to manage wildlife in the state, and if bears are a continued nuisance they are supposed to be relocated. This bad management is causing more bears to learn the joys of the dumpster rather than of the forest. Suppose little Betty sue took the trash out and was mauled. Is it her fault for taking out the trash, the bears, or the DOWs?


jmemcse 7 years, 9 months ago

Projectile trauma to the medulla oblongata produces an instantaneous no reflex kill.

.248? Hmmm.... Sounds exotic.

Someone's had some professional training.


Troutguy 7 years, 9 months ago

jk, it's a good thing Betty Sue wasn't taking the trash out that night. She probably would have wound up with a bullet in the head. "I thought I heard a bear in the trash, so I fired one shot in the dark to scare it away. I didn't realize I'd shot little Betty Sue. Whoops, my bad." Oh, wait, it's the DOW's fault. I forgot.


stephb 7 years, 9 months ago

At the time he "shot at" the bear...he said it was 10-20 feet away? So, why didn't he just leave it alone? It's not like the bear was trying to attack him?... If the bear wanted to "get him", he would have while this meatball was packing his car.... He also said that he "couldn't really see" what he shot at. So, potentially he could have shot someone else out ....say packing for a business trip... ?? walking thier dog, What in the "H" is up with this guy??? Either he is making the story up, and he knew what he was doing, and aimed and killed the bear, or he is an idiot, who truly thought it was alright to open fire in a residential area into the darkness at the 'brown head' which could have been John Doe bending over picking up dog poop!


jk 7 years, 9 months ago

Troutguy, as I stated before I don't condone his actions, as a matter of fact I think he is an idiot, especially after hearing his story. However the issue of several nuisance bears cruising through town repeatedly digging through dumpsters for trash is a DOW issue that they need to start addressing. I am sure you would be singing a different tune if one popped your little float tube sniffing around for a fish.


elphaba 7 years, 9 months ago

This certainly affirms the cherished right to arm bears......


Fred Duckels 7 years, 9 months ago

With all the demands for action the DOW could reauthorize spring bear hunting and remove the problem. I like bears.


Andrew Bisbee 7 years, 9 months ago

Bears are cool. People are not. Someone take that guys rifle away asap.


mavis 7 years, 9 months ago

He is the poster child for why RESPONSIBLE hunters and shooters have to fight for their right to have guns- common sense apparently isn't his top personality trait and he is lucky he didn't kill anyone his neighbors should learn to watch themselves- I'd rather live surrounded by rednecks where people are smart enough to know what happens and the capabilities of a rifle then live next door to someone like that


untamedShrewd 7 years, 9 months ago

several comments have been removed. is it because most everyone agrees that his actions were completely uncalled for. does the paper want us to praise the inhumane act of the Nightwalker.


charliecigar 7 years, 9 months ago

guns don't kill bears- poachers kill bears. I wouldnt want to be in Nightwalkers shoes.....


sue weber 7 years, 9 months ago

Unbelievable . . . ever heard of pots and pans?!? Trust me, they work!


Oscar 7 years, 9 months ago

I would say that a fine of $5000 and 30 days in jail to think about what he did would be about right.


nwconative 7 years, 9 months ago

Hopefully the DA can make at least one felony conviction stick so this guy can never legally own a firearm again. He clearly doesn't have the capability of understanding the responsibility.


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