Poacher of Giant Vermont Buck Gets a Slap on the Wrist


A Vermont poacher who took one of the largest whitetail bucks in the state’s history was charged a small fine for his crimes.

The trophy-antlered buck is thought to be the fifth- or sixth-largest buck in the state’s 100 years of record-keeping. James Smith of Stamford shot the deer one day after rifle season ended. His attorney claimed it was an honest mistake.

bilde“This was a mistake that ended up being a criminal violation. He worked a strange, unusual shift, and his weekends were Sunday and Monday. He thought he was still within season when he went out hunting on Monday and the season actually ended … at sundown Sunday. There was nothing malicious, there was nothing nefarious,” he said.

At the time the deer was taken, there were some complaints that it had been removed from the Vermont woods in an illegal way. Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage, however, said her office agreed to a plea deal because she also believed there was no deliberate intent to break the state’s hunting laws.


What do you think? Does that argument hold water? Did Smith get off too easy, or did the punishment fit the crime? Sound off in the comments section below.

Photos: Wide Open Spaces (top), The Barre Montpelier Times Argus (above)


  1. I do not believe he did not know what day it was, a small fine is not enough. Would say 5 yrs no hunting but he seems to not follow the hunting rules now.

  2. I find it hard to believe that he didn’t know what day it was. If you know it’s getting close to the end of the season, you know when the last day of hunting season is. I don’t care what hours you work. I say it’s bs. He should be fined.

  3. I’m not saying it’s right in any way, but I’ve made the same mistake. I’ve lost track of the days. I’ve never actually hunted out of season, but it could of very easily happened. Some times the excitement of an upcoming hunt makes you forget everything else. People do make mistakes, and sometimes they’re stupid ones. He got fined and he paid the price of his mistake. Leave it alone!

  4. In all the years I’ve hunted, which is every year since I was 16, I always knew when the last day of deer season was. During all those years I worked a lot of overtime during deer season yet I always made damn sure I know my beginning days and end days. The punishment should have been a big fine and loss of his hunting privileges for 5 years. Ignorance is no excuse.

  5. If he doesn’t know when the season ends then he shouldn’t be allowed to hunt. They give out law books for a reason, he has no plausible reason for killing that buck should lose lisence and pay a big fine..

  6. As I have been told many times by law enforcement, “ignorance of the law” is no excuse. Mistake or not he broke the law and should have been given the same punishment as someone who broke the law on purpose.

  7. Well I have almost done the same thing, I almost went hunting on a closed week. When I got to the woods at a public hunting area I didn’t see any other hunters so I checked the hunting dates on my phone and it was closed, so I can see how he made a mistake.

  8. Seems like so many of you are for big government! Why are y’all ok with the government telling you that you have to by a permit from us you have to by stamps from us and here is when you can hunt and fish. You can walk across the border and get all the free Healthcare food and housing you need. But I can’t go on my land and hunt without a permit. I had to run a game officer off my land because he thought he could drive through my bean field 1 day after a 4″ rain. All because I had 2 guys out calling coyotes. I can manage my own land without him. I have no use for trophy hunters. But if you need to hunt for your food then do so. It shouldn’t be up to the government to tell me when and how to eat. They are to involved now as it is.

  9. Who cares, I personally have no problem poaching a deer out of season to feed my family. Call me Robin Hood the only mistake this guy made was getting caught.