Dions plead innocent to deer poaching charges

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Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008.  Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds.  Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds.  Photos courtesy of the Dions
Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008. Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds. Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds. Photos courtesy of the Dions

copyright the Chronicle January 14, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — State game wardens staking out the Irasburg home of Wayne R. Dion, 66, and Jennie A. Dion, 61, say they heard a gunshot during the night before hunting season opened. They say their investigation turned up evidence of several violations of hunting laws.

Mr. Dion appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court Tuesday where he pled innocent to failure to tag big game, baiting deer, feeding deer, taking game by illegal method-using a light, taking deer out of season, taking a big game animal by illegal means, taking a bird in closed season, possessing a big game animal taken by illegal means or in closed season, and transporting big game taken by illegal means or in closed season.

Ms. Dion pled innocent to possessing a big game animal taken by illegal means or in closed season.

Both were released on conditions by Judge Timothy Tomasi.

In her affidavit, Game Warden Jenna Reed said she was contacted on November 14, the day before the opening of hunting season, by Senior Warden Jason Dukette. Warden Dukette, she said, was watching the area around the Dions’ house because of reports that deer were being taken illegally around there.

Around 5:12 p.m., said Warden Reed, Warden Dukette heard a shot coming from the Dions’ home.

An hour later he saw Mr. Dion come out of the house and search the field with a flashlight, the affidavit says.

Warden Reed said she watched the house from 5:30 a.m. the next morning to about 8:40 a.m. and heard no shots. Around 7:22, she said, she heard the sound of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

Around 8:30, she said, she and Fish and Wildlife Colonel Jason Batchelder were in plain clothes, sitting in a truck parked at the end of Mr. Dion’s road. He drove up and told them he shot a nine-point buck weighing around 200 pounds that morning, said Warden Reed.

She said Lieutenant Batchelder noticed what appeared to be blood on Mr. Dion’s hands.

Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008.  Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds.  Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds.  Photos courtesy of the Dions
Wayne and Jennie Dion of Irasburg pose with the two bucks they shot on opening weekend of rifle season in 2008. Mr. Dion’s deer was an eight-pointer and weighed 190 pounds. Ms. Dion’s deer was a six-pointer and weighed 160 pounds. Photos courtesy of the Dions

The officers received a search warrant from Judge Kathleen Manley just after noon the same day and went to the Dions’ home.

Warden Reed said she examined a fresh set of ATV tracks behind the house headed toward the tree line. Along them she said she saw traces of what appeared to be deer blood and deer hair.

As she looked around the back of the Dions’ house, Warden Reed said, she noticed a shooting port in the back of the house and floodlights pointing into the rear yard.

An apple tree bare of fruit stood about 15 yards from the shooting port, she said. She said she noticed a swept path along which corn was strewn. A corn-filled birdfeeder hanging in the tree was not the source of the corn on the ground, Warden Reed said.

Apples were neatly placed in a ten-foot by three-foot array near the treat, said Warden Reed, and a dead blue jay lay nearby.

She said she noticed well-worn deer paths heading toward the apple tree.

When she followed the ATV tracks back into the woods beyond the tree line, Warden Reed said she found a melted area where it appeared that a deer had died.

Lieutenant Batchelder, she said, told her he had found the place where the deer went into the woods and there was blood with a dusting of snow on it.

In the basement of the Dions’ house a gutted nine-point deer hung from the rafters, near a parked ATV, the affidavit says. The entrails were in a nearby five-gallon bucket, Warden Reed said.

When the deer’s stomach was cut open a couple of small pieces of apple were found.

Warden Dave Gregory took temperature readings of the deer’s thigh and determined the animal must have died well before 6:16 a.m. on November 15, the official start of hunting season, the affidavit says.

In their basement, the Dions had seven large chest freezers, all but one of which was filled with apples, said Warden Reed. There were also seven containers of corn, and two five-gallon pails of thawing apples, she said.

Warden Reed said she examined the ATV and found what appeared to be deer hair attached to the back and a red liquid like deer blood under the vehicle’s running board.

Upstairs, Specialist Russell Shopland and Deputy Game Warden Marc Luneau were also searching.

Warden Reed said Deputy Luneau asked where the heart and liver were, and were told by Mr. Dion that his wife had put them in the refrigerator. They were found there, she said.

Mr. and Ms. Dion’s bedroom had a large bay window over the bed, next to it was a small table with containers of live and spent ammunition. Above the table, Warden Reed said, was a shooting port.

Nearby switches controlled the floodlights out back, she said, and a tripod used for shooting was nearby.

Warden Reed said clothing that appeared to be blood stained was found in the couple’s bathroom and seized.

Mr. Dion said he shot the deer on the morning of November 15 from inside the bedroom using the shooting port, Warden Reed said.

Ms. Dion said she was sleeping in the bed at the time of the alleged shot. She said she didn’t hear the shot, being a very heavy sleeper.

Warden Reed said that appeared to her to be untrue, given that the shot was fired from a high-powered rifle in a small room, with Ms. Dion in close proximity.

Mr. Dion said he told Ms. Dion to make out a landowner tag for the deer, and the tag was found on the couple’s kitchen table, Warden Reed said.

She said Mr. Dion admitted shooting the blue jay because it was eating corn in the bird feeder. He said he watches deer come up onto his property.

Mr. Dion also said he placed corn and apples out to attract wildlife, that he saw deer come up to the apples and corn, and that he always keeps the floodlights behind his house on after dark, the affidavit says.

After the search, Warden Reed said she went to the place where she sat in the early morning hours. Warden Gregory fired a shot from a .243 rifle out the shoot port, and Warden Reed said she heard the sound clearly.

The deer and ATV were seized in accordance with the warrant.

Warden Reed said the snow that fell on the traces of deer blood show the deer was shot before the hours of 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on opening day, when no snow fell. She said she had observed the Dions’ on previous evenings and noticed the floodlights and the deer feeding on apples and corn, which could be seen clearly in the light.

An examination of the deer on November 17 showed the animal had not died immediately after being shot, Warden Reed said. This, combined with the other information gathered in the investigation, showed the deer was shot before the start of hunting season, the affidavit says.

Other affidavits from Colonel Batchelder, Warden Dukette, and Deputy Luneau, confirmed many of the findings of Warden Reed’s affidavit.

contact Joseph Gresser at [email protected]

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