This month marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Vermont game warden Arnold Magoon, who was killed in the line of duty.
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will honor Magoon on Saturday by placing a memorial on his family's property in Brandon.
A decade before Magoon was killed, reporter and historian Howard Coffin spent a long night with him patrolling the back roads of Addison and Rutland counties, on the prowl for deer poachers.
Coffin recalled that the low-key and lanky law enforcement officer relished catching the midnight hunters and bringing them to justice.
“He obviously loved what he was doing; he loved the thrill of the chase,” Coffin said. “But he also had ... a real affection for deer, and he thought that people ought to play by the rules."
In late April 1978, Magoon was at home at night in Brandon when he heard a rifle shot nearby. He went to investigate and quickly came upon three people who had killed a deer out of season. He scuffled with one of the men, who bludgeoned him to death with Magoon's own flashlight.
Magoon is the only Vermont warden killed in the line of duty. Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said current and former wardens are still close to Magoon’s family, and many will be in Brandon Saturday to honor him and his legacy.
“Wardens are a unique type of law enforcement. They frequently work alone, they frequently work in remote areas, they frequently work with people who are armed; and they also work in their home districts,” Porter said. “They’re a part of their community in a very positive way.”
Disclosure: Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is a VPR underwriter.