When 25-year-old Nick Krueter and 32-year-old Samuel Lowe got up early on Tuesday morning, January 15, in Brea, California, they were heading up to the Santa Barbara backcountry for a day of hunting. From various accounts, it appears they arrived at the Upper Oso area about dawn and headed up the Santa Cruz Trail to hunt for pigs.
Though not a particularly good area for pig hunting, apparently the nearby private land at Rancho San Fernando Rey is. Stephen Nellis, a hunter and a dog owner, described Santa Barbara County as one of the “top five” spots for pigs. “But more than 90 percent of the land where you’ll find them is private,” he noted. “There’s some thought that some of the pigs may wander off San Fernando Rey and down into the drainage where the Santa Cruz Trail climbs up to Little Pine Mountain.”
Kreuter and Lowe spent the morning somewhere in the vicinity of a small hiker’s camp known as Nineteen Oaks or in the area above it. At some point in the early morning, they decided to head back to Upper Oso. At about 11 a.m. as they rounded a corner, they spotted two dogs heading toward them. According to the Sheriff’s report, one of the dogs barked and acted in an aggressive manner, frightening the hunters enough that one of them took aim and fired, resulting in the death of a 40-pound dog named Billy.