Deer decoy by the side of the road.
Getty Images, Boogich

Vermont Poacher Sentenced in High-Speed 'Deer Jacking' Case

Shane Philips will lose his hunting and fishing privileges after shooting a decoy deer set up by game wardens.

After a real-life bait and switch and a sting operation, Shane Phillips of Johnson, Vermont, has been sentenced in connection with the poaching of a fake deer in October 2020, the culmination of a years-long court process.

On the night of the attempted poaching, game wardens spotted the driver of a black Buick using his headlights to illuminate two deer in the dark. Eventually, the man in the vehicle shot the buck with a crossbow, authorities said.

The thing was, the deer was a fake. Unbeknownst to Phillips, the driver of said Buick, the dummy deer was one placed by wildlife officials to crack down on would-be poachers. Such dummy deer—often life-like robot decoys—have been used for years by game wardens to target specific areas, rather than specific people, and are generally modeled after average-sized animals rather than trophies.

The point isn't to add temptation into the mix but simply to catch anyone willing to shoot a random animal in disregard to hunting regulations. Wildlife officials then wait nearby to see if anyone is willing to break the law. According to NBC News, would-be poachers especially can't seem to resist the sight of a big deer by the side of the road. Phillips was no exception, authorities said.

How a Poacher Was Brought to Justice

After being confronted by game wardens, Phillips sped away from the scene in his Buick, authorities said. Follow-up investigations helped law enforcement track down Phillips. They seized his vehicle and, after obtaining a search warrant, found a crossbow inside it and determined that it had been fired, authorities said.

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department press release on the incident, Phillips was originally cited with "deer jacking," which is illegally shooting a deer at night. His full list of charges eventually included taking big game by illegal means, taking big game in a closed season, shooting from a motor vehicle, shooting from a public highway, and possessing a cocked crossbow in a motor vehicle.

Phillips had to hand over his crossbow, as well as the keys to his 2011 Buick Regal, which authorities said he used in the high-speed chase. He was ordered to pay $2,877 in fines and lost his hunting and fishing privileges for three years. To get them back, he'll have to take a course in outdoor recreation ethics.

"Prosecuting law violators takes time," Game Warden Lt. Carl Wedin said in the press release. "Catching a deer jacker in the act is one thing, seeing justice served is an entirely different operation. Vermont hunters can be gratified to see this poacher forfeit his vehicle and weapon, in addition to his fine and loss of his hunting privileges for the next three years."

READ MORE: 6 Poachers Slaughtered 100+ Deer "Just for Fun," Now Face 486 Charges