Sportsmen and women should be optimistic about the upcoming deer hunting seasons, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. In Vermont hunters can enjoy the sport any day of the week, including Sundays, and all seasons are open equally to residents and nonresidents.
“Our overall herd health is good, and people are seeing a lot of deer right now,” said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. “Hunters who scout early should do well as favorite fall foods for deer–apples and nuts- appear spotty. Hunters should key in on these fall food areas, because deer will concentrate in them.”
According to Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski, biological data on the health of deer collected during last fall’s hunting seasons show that Vermont’s deer herd continues to remain in good health. Additionally, Murkowski noted that recent weather data indicate the past three winters have not been severe in nature–a boon to deer throughout the state.
“It is important that hunters continue to act as local wildlife managers and stewards through harvesting an adequate number of antlerless deer this year,” Murkowski said. “Maintaining a healthy deer herd is beneficial to Vermont hunters, the deer, and the habitats that support them. Scientific management of the state’s deer herd would not be possible without the active participation of Vermont hunters.”
He noted that the boundaries of some wildlife management units have been changed for the 2014 hunting seasons to better reflect wildlife populations and land uses. Hunters should familiarize themselves with these changes. The “2014 Vermont Deer Hunting Guide” can be downloaded from the department’s website at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. It includes a map of the revised Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), season dates, regulations, and other helpful information.
Guidelines for harvesting
In Vermont, a hunter may take up to three deer in a calendar year in any combination of seasons (Archery, Youth Weekend, November Rifle Season, December Muzzleloader). Of these, only two may be legal bucks, and only one buck may be taken in each season. A “legal buck” is a deer with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer. All three deer in the annual bag limit may be antlerless deer taken in archery, youth or muzzleloader seasons.
Spike-antlered deer are protected except during the youth deer weekend. A point must be one inch or longer from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point, regardless of length.
Archery season: Oct. 4-26 and Dec.6-14
Vermont’s archery deer hunting season offers hunters the chance to take up to three deer with three archery licenses. No more than one of the deer taken during split archery season may be a legal buck. No antlerless deer may be taken in WMU D2, E1 and E2.
Youth Deer Weekend: Nov. 8-9
Youth deer hunting weekend is open on the Saturday and Sunday before the regular rifle season. Anyone, resident or nonresident, who is 15 years old or younger on the weekend of the hunt and who has successfully completed a hunter safety course may purchase a hunting license and obtain a free youth deer hunting tag. The young hunter must be accompanied by an unarmed adult over 18 years of age who holds a Vermont hunting license. Landowner permission is required in order to hunt on private land during the youth deer hunt weekend. A young hunter who has obtained a Vermont hunting license and youth deer tag may take one deer of either sex during youth deer hunting weekend in any WMU. The antler restriction that applies for other Vermont deer seasons does not apply for youth deer hunting weekend.
Rifle season: Nov. 15-30
Vermont’s November rifle season begins on the Saturday 12 days before Thanksgiving and runs for 16 consecutive days. The rifle season offers the opportunity to enjoy North Country deer hunting at its best. One legal buck with at least one antler having two or more points may be taken anywhere in the state during this season.
Muzzleloader season: Dec. 6-16
During the muzzleloader season one legal buck may be taken with at least one antler having two or more points with the muzzleloader license tag. A regular hunting license must be purchased to get the muzzleloader license. In addition to a legal buck, a muzzleloader hunter who receives an antlerless permit may take an antlerless deer in the WMU indicated on the permit.
Planning your hunt
The 2013 Vermont Deer Harvest Report, available from the Fish & Wildlife Department’s web site (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) has a wealth of information to help plan a hunt, including the number of deer taken in each town. Click on “Hunting and Trapping” and “Big Game” to download a copy of the report.
Vermont’s regular hunting licenses, including a November rifle season buck tag, still cost only $25 for residents and $100 for nonresidents. Hunters under 18 years of age get a break at $8 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.
Hunters must have a standard hunting license in order to purchase an add-on archery deer hunting license ($23 residents, $38 nonresidents), except that nonresidents may purchase an “archery only deer license” costing just $75.
Muzzleloader licenses are $23 for residents, $40 for nonresidents, and a regular hunting license is required first.
Licenses are quickly and easily available on Fish & Wildlife’s web site and from license agents statewide.
The “2014 Vermont Hunting, Fishing & Trapping Laws and Guide”explains all of Vermont’s hunting regulations and includes maps showing public hunting areas, as well as a map showing the WMU boundaries. It is available on the VTF&W website and in paper versions where licenses are sold.
For more information call the Vermont Fish and Wildlife dept. at 802-828-1000.