Game wardens: Record deer was taken illegally
By Patrick McArdle
STAMFORD - The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department had good news and bad news for a local hunter in December.
The good news was that the large, trophy-antlered buck that Jim Smith, 47, of Stamford, had harvested in Stamford was the largest taken in Vermont in more than 20 years.
The bad news was that the buck was taken a day after the 2012 rifle season ended so instead of congratulations, Smith is now facing criminal charges for which he is scheduled to be arraigned in Bennington criminal court on Feb. 11.
In a press release, officials with the department said someone had witnessed Smith removing the 10-point buck from the woods on Nov. 26 and then tipped them off.
There was no record of the deer being reported so Vermont Sate Game Wardens Richard Watkin, Kelly Price and David Taddei conducted an investigation.
During an interview on Dec. 19, Smith admitted to killing the deer on the day after rifle season ended but said he had mistakenly believed the season was still open. The antlers, meat and hide were seized by wardens.
Smith has been cited to appear in court for taking a deer during the closed season. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 60 days in prison, lose his right to hunt, fish and trap in Vermont for up to three years and be fined up to $3,000.
Curtis Smiley, a lieutenant with the Fish and Wildlife's enforcement division and president of the Vermont Big Game Trophy Club, said the buck would have a Boone and Crockett score of 165 2/8 gross. The Boone and Crockett score, the standard for North American hunters, is based on antler size.
According to Keith Balfourd, marketing director of Boone and Crockett, the score described it would make it the fifth- or sixth-largest buck reported from Vermont since the scoring system began almost 100 years ago.
Vermont doesn't historically produce big-racked, white-tail deer and there are only 13 in Boone and Crockett's record books, Balfourd said.
For the complete story, see Wednesday's Rutland Herald.