On December 7, 2022

Hunters happy with rifle season

By Andy Kirkaldy/Addison County Independent

After a slow start to Vermont’s 16-day rifle season for deer locally, hunters brought a near-record number of bucks to be weighed at Addison County’s wildlife reporting stations.

Between Nov. 12 and 27 hunters took 636 bucks to Rack ’N Reel in New Haven, Vermont Field Sports in Middlebury, Buxton’s Store in Orwell, C&S Hunting Supplies in East Middlebury, or the Lincoln and West Addison general stores. That high total came despite a below-average opening weekend count of 178 bucks.

Courtesy Vermont Field Sports
Tom Stevens, right, shown with friend Duncan Tilford, shot this 185-pound buck with an 8-point rack in Ripton on Nov. 12.

Only 2020’s final count of 647 bucks topped that number since 2005, when the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife banned shooting spikehorn bucks during rifle season. The department now again allows antlerless bucks to be shot, but only in some mountainous areas.

The next most productive rifle seasons locally came in 2019, 594 bucks; 2021, 590; 2016, 573; and 2018, 571.

The rifle season surge followed average numbers for the local early archery and muzzleloader seasons (205 and 50 taken, respectively, in October and early November) and a mediocre Youth/Novice Weekend (89 on Oct. 22 and 23).

Overall, through the Nov. 27 end of rifle season the half-dozen reporting stations had handled 980 deer, putting the final number for the season likely to top 2021’s 1,133 deer weighed locally, but highly unlikely to challenge 2020’s record total of 1,745. The next best totals of 1,345 in 2018 and 1,324 in 2019 are in reach.

Fish & Wildlife Deer & Moose Project Leader Nick Fortin said the county’s results were tracking overall early returns around Vermont.

“Statewide things look pretty good. I think we’re almost certainly going to be up from last year,” Fortin said.
Big bucks

Certainly, hunters brought down plenty of trophy bucks. Names of hunters from Buxton’s Store and details of their bucks from the final 14 days of the season were not available before deadline. Fortin provided the season totals for Buxton’s.

The Independent will publish all bow and muzzleloader results in a complete wrap-up later this month.

In the final 14 days of rifle season, pending Buxton’s results, Kevin Kayhart’s 231-pound, 10-pointer he shot in Waltham stands as the largest buck weighed in the county during rifle season.

Also in those two weeks, Mark Reginbald shot a 202-pound, 8-pointer in Orwell, and two hunters shot 199-pound, 8-pointers, Leon Demers in New Haven and Jeremie Butterfield in Middlebury.

Three bucks taken on opening weekend tipped the scales at over 200 pounds, all in the southern half of the county:  Tyler Hotte’s 203-pound, 4-pointer taken in Cornwall; Joseph Russell, 202-pound, 8-pointer shot in Orwell; and Ramsey Bronson’s 202-pound, 6-pointer brought down in Shoreham.

Possibly the best blend of points and pounds shot in the first two days was the 198-pound, 11-pointer Kyle Delabruere took in Starksboro.

Five more hunters in the final two weeks shot deer with 10-point racks that weighed at least 170 pounds: Chris Hanson, 197 pounds, Orwell; Eugene Aube, 174 pounds, New Haven; Emily Heywood, 173 pounds, Shoreham; Geoffrey Lavallette, 172 pounds, Monkton; Rogan Jackman, 170 pounds, Ferrisburgh; and Pamela Lathrop, 170 pounds, Starksboro.

Dozens of other hunters brought down deer with trophy-worthy 10-, 9- and 8-point racks.

All those deer were weighed at Rack ’N Reel, Vermont Field Sports, Buxton’s Store, West Addison and Lincoln general stores, or C&S Hunting Supplies.

More information will be added to the online Addison County Independent as it becomes available.

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