Vermont Fish and Wildlife Narrative
Wardens: Jason Gravelle
Offense: 10V4267 Transferring Tag to Another Person.
10V4747 Taking Big Game by Illegal Means
10VAPP7 Taking Bear Using Bait
Offenders: John Smith DOB: 1-1-50 (name and date of birth changed)
Dave Jones DOB: 1-1-85 (name and date of birth changed)
On Sunday September 27, 2015 I received an e-mail complaint from Operation Game Thief. The complaint was from an anonymous concerned citizen advising that a “Mr. Smith had shot a bear and had his neighbor tag it for him.” The complaint further stated that Mr. Smith was “baiting bear and that’s how he got it.” The bear was thought to have been shot near the area 50 New Road in the town of Hartland and was now reportedly hanging in the garage at that location.
At approximately 1530 hours, Warden Tim Carrey and I responded to 50 New Road in the town of Hartland to investigate the complaint. At this location, I met a young male, later identified as Dave Jones DOB: 1-1-85. I asked him if he knew why we were at his residence. He stated “I have no idea.” I then inquired if he had shot a bear and he stated “yes I did shoot a bear. I shot it up on the hill above my house. I brought it into my garage, hung it up and skinned it.” Mr. Jones stated he shot the bear on September 22, 2015. He walked Warden Carrey and myself over to the open garage door. I observed pieces of cardboard on the floor that appeared to be covered with blood as there was a red staining present. I also observed a hand saw, that was covered with the same red substance as the cardboard, and pieces of dark black hair. He advised that he hung the bear in his garage to remove the hide/head then transported the carcass to Mac’s Store to have it processed and packaged. I asked him which reporting station he had used to report the bear and he stated he had checked it in in Quechee.
I asked Mr. Jones if he would take us to the location of the kill site, where he shot the bear. He stated “yes” and began walking up the lawn above his house. I asked Mr. Jones where the bullet had struck the bear and he stated “in the left side, right in the head.” I asked Mr. Jones where he field
dressed the bear and specifically where the bear’s stomach was now located. He replied “they are up on the hill.” I told him that I wanted to take a look at the contents of the stomach. Mr. Jones then stopped walking and stated “I just remembered that I cleaned the bear out in my garage and dumped the head, hide and intestines over the edge of Barron Hill Road which is located just a few miles from my house.” I then asked Mr. Jones why he was lying to me about shooting the bear. Mr. Jones replied “follow me and I will show you.”
We continued to walk up the road above his house towards the “kill” site. As we were walking past his neighbor’s residence, I observed a red ATV parked next to the driveway. I asked Mr. Jones if that was “Mr. Smith’s ATV” and he stated “yes” I further inquired about the possibilities of Mr. Smith
hunting in the area at that moment. Mr. Jones stated “I don’t think so, he is probably just visiting the neighbors.”
We walked to the end of Jenkins Road and continued up a small roadway and into a section of open hardwood trees. Mr. Jones led us to an area of the woods. The ground in the open area was covered with several hundred yellow apples and several small piles of corn. I did not observe any apple trees in the immediate area. I then observed a game camera, strapped to a tree, approximately 4 feet in elevation from the ground. This camera was placed in a position where it could capture images over this open area. I asked Warden Carrey to remove the camera and hand it to me. The name “Lee Smith” was written on the back of the camera. I also observed a ladder tree stand adjacent to the camera.
I informed Mr. Jones that I didn’t believe his story. I told him I knew who had shot the bear. I recommended to Mr. Jones that he should come clean and tell the truth. Mr. Jones then stated “Ok, I didn’t shoot the bear but I think you know who did.” I informed him that I thought the person who shot the bear had his name written on the back of the camera, Lee Smith. Mr. Jones stated that he did not want to get anyone in trouble especially because the person in question was the individual whom he bought his house from and that this person had financed it for him.
We continued to walk up the hill in the direction of the “kill” site when I observed a ladder stand, approximately 12-14 feet high, strapped to a tree. I then observed an individual dressed in camo, sitting in it with his back to our location. I also observed a rifle hanging from a hook on the tree branch
to right of the individual, approximately an arm’s length away. I identified myself as a Game Warden and instructed the individual to unload his rifle and carefully climb down from the stand. Upon completion of his descent, I informed him that I would be taking his rifle for safety and to verify that it was unloaded. I verbally identified the individual as John Smith DOB: 1-1-50.
I asked Mr. Smith if he knew why we were there and he stated “No I don’t know why you are here.” I told him we were there investigating the bear that was shot and Mr. Jones agreed to take us to the kill site. I explained that while we were walking towards his location we discovered a game camera, with his name on it, overlooking large piles of apples and corn. I asked Mr. Smith if he had any other cameras in the area and he pointed to a tree approximately 25 yards from where his stand. Warden Carrey walked over to the location of the camera and discovered additional piles of apples and a small tree stump covered with a reddish jelly like substance. I observed that his ladder stand was set up in a location that allowed the occupant to oversee the entire area. I walked over to observe the area with Warden Carrey, I located a “salt rock” on the ground along with the apples and red jelly substance. I made him aware they were in violation of hunting in a baited area.
I asked Mr. Smith about the bear that had been shot and tagged by Mr. Jones. He informed me that he had actually shot and killed the bear. I asked about the location where he shot the bear and he stated “approximately 40 yards from where we are now. I was walking up to get in my stand when I saw the bear and shot it.” I asked Mr. Smith what rifle he used to shoot the bear, he advised it was the rifle I was currently in possession of. I identified the rifle as a Ruger M77 bolt action .270 cal. bearing serial number 770-82190 with a Leupold scope. I asked Mr. Smith if he had a hunting license with an early season bear tag and he replied “yes.” I asked why he had Mr. Jones tag the bear. He stated that he had previously seen two bears in the area and just wanted to be able to keep hunting. I asked Mr. Smith when he had first placed the bait in the area and he stated “I put the apples and salt rock out a few weeks ago but I didn’t use the red berry substance until after I shot the bear.” I asked Mr. Smith how he retrieved the bear from the woods and he stated that he used his ATV.
Warden Carey and I walked Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith back to their residences. At this time Warden Majeski arrived to assist in the investigation as Warden Carrey had to leave to attend to another matter.
Warden Majeski and I then left Mr. Smith’s residence and walked back up to the baited areas and took several pictures of the bait and tree stands. Samples of the salt rock and corn were taken as well.
Based on the above mentioned facts, I issued John Smith a Citation to appear at the Windsor County Court House to answer to the charges of; 10V4747 Taking Big Game by illegal means and Title 10 APP 7 Taking bear using bait. I explained the Citation as well as the address to the court house. I issued Mr. Jones Vermont Fish and Game Complaint #F13858 for a violation of; 10V4267 Transferring tag to another person. Mr. Jones.
State Game Warden Jason Gravelle