Most poachers are young and misguided males, many of whom are into drugs.
But the Dions, both well into their 60s, could illegally kill deer with the best of them.
Several years ago Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials got wind of suspicious activity at the Dion property in Northeast Kingdom and began an extended investigation. Over time the wardens found well-worn deer trails leading from the woods to the couple’s backyard, which was hidden from the neighbors by a thick cedar hedge.
The stunner: Wardens discovered a sliding port complete with a gun rest cut into the back of the house. Five spotlights were pointed towards the backyard, at the center of which was a large pile of corn and apples. Baiting deer is illegal in Vermont.
Apparently Wayne and Jennie could sit inside their warm home watching TV at night, peek out the port from time to time, say, “Hey honey, there’s a nice buck,” and shoot him dead.
A warranted search of the Dion’s home turned up 91 deer antler plaques and 15 shoulder mounts. The search also revealed seven chest freezers and several plastic totes containing corn and apples, which wardens believe were used to illegally bait deer.
Wardens discovered a large 9-point buck that they believe was killed the night before the 2014 season opened. The deer was not tagged. Wardens seized the ATV that was allegedly used to drag the deer to the Dion’s basement, in addition to seizing the deer.
Officials say that more than 100 deer were likely shot, but they do not know for sure how many might have been poached over the years.
Wayne Dion faced multiple charges, including taking big game in closed season; transporting and possession of big game by illegal means; spotlighting; feeding deer; and failure to tag. Jennie Dion faced charges of aiding in a big game violation and possession of big game taken by illegal means.
Each charge carried a possible 60-day jail sentence and fine of $250-$500. They also faced a 3-year loss of hunting privileges.
In February of this year, WCAX.com reported that Jennie Dion pleaded no contest to possessing big game. The same for Wayne Dion for baiting deer and taking a deer out of season, and guilty for failure to tag deer. Both were fined. No jail time.
It is unclear whether or not they had their hunting licenses revoked, but surely that was the case. If not, it would be a travesty.
As you might expect, this sad story elicited a barrage of comments from locals in the community. A sampling:
This is a not hunting… I could understand if it was to put food on the table because you can’t afford to buy food but…that is not the case here…pure greed, whether for more trophies or to sell the meat…they stole from the rest of us…
People wait all year for hunting season and these jerks monopolized the entire herd by year-round feeding and baiting…these people cheated the entire community!
Despicable. I have to wonder why Vermont Fish and Wildlife investigated for almost 5 years before busting these cretins.
This is less than a mile from my land. This explains a hell of a lot, as we’ve seen a serious decrease of deer in the area. I hope they throw the book at them.
As for the verdict, every person who commented said it was way too soft.
I have reported on many poaching cases in the last 20 years. They are all sad and disgusting, and this one is no different. I am forever amazed at the lengths people will go to poach deer, and especially big deer.
These poachers were eventually busted because of the many anonymous tips the wardens got from the neighbors and locals. Every state has a toll-free poaching tip line; keep it with your license and use it if you must.
Back in 2012 I posted this blog on the 14-point monster shot by Dusty Gerrits in Fond du Lac Country on November 6 that year. It net-scored 189 3/8 inches, and was the new state archery record for typical whitetail. I was so impressed with Dusty’s buck that the next summer I went up and filmed a popular BIG DEER TV segment with Dusty at his hunting cabin.
Some 11 months later, on October 11, 2013, bowhunter Adam Hupf shot a 13-pointer in Dodge County that edged out the Gerrits Buck to become the new Wisconsin archery record typical. After the mandatory 60-day drying period, the rack was panel-scored in Green Bay and measured an official 191 6/8 inches.
Dusty and Adam don’t live that far apart, so they got together for a few beers, shared stories and sent me this picture (that’s Adam and his record buck on the left, and Dusty and his #2 giant on right).
Well, at least Adam’s buck lasted as the state record for a more than a year (23 months to be exact).
From Wisconsin Buck and Bear: At approximately 2:55 pm on Thursday November 5, 2015 a huge buck was cruising a steep hillside…in west-central Wisconsin. Seventy-five yards away archer John Kassera…sat patiently waiting on this warm breezy afternoon. The La Crosse County 5×5…was arrowed at 20 yards….
Earlier this year in January, the Kassera Buck was panel measured and officially netted 193 4/8”—the 3rd state record typical arrowed in the last 4 seasons!
Three STATE RECORD TYPICAL BOW BUCKS in 4 years seems unbelievable, and it is really. But then consider that Wisconsin ranks #1 in the nation for Boone and Crockett typical whitetails, with 1,131 bucks in the record book, 382 more than 2nd place Illinois.
It would not surprise me if another new record is shot this fall in Wisconsin; until the typical net approaches 200 inches in the state, it’s feasible that the record will continue to be broken in 1- or 2-inch increments.
And there’s a very good chance that if a hunter breaks Milo Hanson’s world-record typical of 213, he or she will shoot it in Wisconsin. In fact, this might be that buck.
Foliomag.com (2 hours ago): New York-based enthusiast publisher Harris Publications notified employees today that the company is shutting down, effective immediately, after nearly four decades.
Founded in 1977, Harris published a wide variety of special interest magazines over the years…
“The magazine publishing industry has been through turmoil in the face of the rapid ascendance of digital media, changing consumer content preferences, magazine wholesaler struggles and consolidation in the supply chain,” read an official company statement obtained by Folio:. ”We have tried mightily to persevere against these forces, but have been unable to overcome these challenges.”
This is a tough day for me because back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I did a ton of work for Harris. In fact at one time when I first took the insane plunge and went freelance, I made most of a very meager living writing for their mags. Back then Harris was doing well and publishing a bunch of mid-grade, how-to hunting magazines, including Guns and Hunting, Whitetail Hunting Strategies, Bowhunting Strategies, Deer and Big Game Rifles and more.
I eagerly wrote as much as they would let me for all those rags, but my crowning glory came in the early 2000s, when the editors of the Harris outdoor group (Gerry and Nino, who remain my dear friends to this day) gave me my own magazine entitled Whitetail Hunters Digest.
My own mag! For years, I wrote the entire publication, 16 to 20 articles. It was published once a year, a “one shot,” and hit the newsstand in summer as a primer for deer season. It was a unique and coveted gig for a freelance writer and a hell of a lot of work. I embraced it, obsessed over it, loved it.
My Lord, that was 15 years ago, but it seems like 50. I miss the grind and the deadlines for the incredibly scant pay. I miss working for and with my editors Gerry and Nino (Gerry had moved on from Harris a while back, and I hope Nino lands on his feet, he’s one of the best men in this industry).
I fear and know that in this digital/mobile world more print mags will go away, likely sooner than later. And it makes me sad, for I was born to write for hook and bullet magazines, not the ones on a screen, but the ones you pick up with your hands, and flip and read. Not many people seem do that anymore, especially you Millennials.
Well, at least I had some vision, and have my Big Deer Blog—digital! I plan on hunting and writing it (more correctly, posting it) until the day they put me under.
It’s a little after 4 p.m. I’m going to go pour 3 fingers, sit in my favorite chair, shut off my phone and read a yellowed 15-year-old issue of Whitetail Hunter’s Digest cover to cover. (My gosh, I’d forgotten the photos were black and white back then).
Here’s to you Harris Publications, thanks for one hell of a ride.