Wayne and Jennie Dion are not your typical deer thieves.
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.