The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department released preliminary numbers, Jan. 4, showing 16,160 deer were taken during Vermont’s 2016 deer hunting seasons.
Reports from big game check stations indicate hunters had successful deer seasons in 2016, taking 3,447 deer in archery season, 1,438 in youth season, 7,725 in rifle season, and 3,550 in muzzleloader season. The 16,160 deer brought home by hunters yielded more than 3 million meals of local nutritious venison.
“The legal buck harvest of 9,968 was 19 percent more than the previous three-year average of 8,372, and the highest buck harvest since 2002,” said deer project leader Nick Fortin. “Harvest numbers increased during all four seasons, and the total harvest of 16,160 is the second-highest since 2002.
“The increased harvest was primarily due to the exceptionally mild winter of 2016, which allowed more deer to survive,” Fortin explained. “Additionally, the department issued nearly twice as many muzzleloader antlerless deer permits this year to provide more harvest opportunity and to limit population growth in some parts of the state.”
The primary goal of Vermont’s deer management strategy is to keep the deer herd stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat. “Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures deer and the habitats that support them remain in good condition and productive,” said Fortin. “This year’s harvest clearly demonstrates how productive our deer herd can be.”
Each year the department operates biological check stations during deer hunting seasons to gather information on the age, sex, field dressed weight, antler characteristics, and overall health of Vermont’s deer herd. In 2016, biological data were collected from 1,830 deer examined during the two-day youth season and November rifle season.
To provide additional data, hunters submitted more than 2,700 teeth from bucks harvested during the rifle season. Fortin said, “The effort made by hunters and many of our big game reporting stations to collect teeth during rifle season will greatly improve our understanding of Vermont’s buck population.”
Photo courtesy of VT Fish & Wildlife
Josh Dufresne of Springfield, Vt., with the impressive 8-point buck he took in Vermont’s 2016 November deer season.