With Vermont’s 16-day rifle deer season beginning Saturday, Nov. 13, officials at the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) are encouraging the public to use caution and to be visible and mindful of their surroundings in the coming weeks. Saturday marks the opening day of the white-tailed deer rifle hunt in Vermont, a lifelong tradition for many Vermonters.
Hunters and other forest users are reminded that the entire 400,000-plus acre national forest is open to hunting, with the exceptions of developed trails and recreation sites.
Non-hunters who plan to use the National Forest during hunting season should also be cognizant of hunters using the same locations. The Forest Service recommends wearing blaze orange if hunting seasons run concurrently with your visit.
If visiting the forest with the family dog, make sure it is visible, too, with an orange bandanna or jacket, and remember that dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Voice control is not sufficient, especially if the dog is frightened by a gun shot or takes off after a deer. This practice protects you, your dog, and wildlife.
As with any recreational opportunity on the GMNF, all applicable state and federal laws and regulations must be followed. Below are some safety tips for hunters who may be planning to hunt on the GMNF:
- Wear blaze orange and try to be visible from all directions
- Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return
- Be familiar with the area that you are hunting
- Clearly identify your target before shooting, fire only at clearly identified wildlife, and know what is beyond your target
- Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other users are in the forest as well. The forest is open to all other lawful uses including mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding
- Check weather reports before visiting the forest — dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions. Carry a spare set of dry clothes. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture retention while maintaining body warmth
- Check hunting equipment before and after each outing and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with the operation of your firearm before using it in the field
- Have a first aid kit, flashlight, fully charged cell phone, food and water in case of an emergency
- With the Covid-19 pandemic still present in our local community, observe current protocols
Ranger stations for the Green Mountain National Forest are open and located in Rochester on Route 100 (802-767-4261) and in Manchester Center, on Depot Road (802-362-2307). The Rutland headquarters on North Main Street is closed while its new building in Mendon is under construction and operates virtually. For more information, visit fs.usda.gov/gmfl.