Winter-ravaged deer populations mean fewer hunting permits this year

“The number of muzzleloader season antlerless deer permits have been reduced significantly from the 17,050 issued in 2014 to 9,650 for this year, because of reductions in deer numbers caused by two severe winters in 2014 and 2015,” said Mark Scott, director of wildlife for the Fish & Wildlife Department.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board voted on the Fish & Wildlife Department’s proposal for antlerless deer hunting for 2015 at its monthly meeting on April 22 in Montpelier.

The department’s annual recommendation is based on population growth estimates, biological data, deer sighting rates reported by hunters, and winter severity data, as well as input from game wardens, foresters and the public. 

“We expect the statewide deer population to be 115,000 to 120,000 prior to the start of the 2015 deer seasons,” Scott stated.

Hunting for antlerless deer is proposed for the Oct. 3-25 and Dec. 5-13 archery season, except in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) E1 and E2, which would be closed to antlerless deer hunting during archery and muzzleloader seasons. Last year, hunters took 2,442 antlerless deer during the archery season.

One deer of either sex would be allowed for youths during the Nov. 7-8 youth weekend hunt. Youths took 1,007 antlerless deer during the 2014 youth weekend hunt.

The Dec. 5-13 muzzleloader season would have 9,650 antlerless permits distributed in 10 of Vermont’s 21 WMUs, which would result in an estimated 1,348 antlerless deer being taken. Permit numbers in four of the WMUs are limited to 100 permits, all of which are likely to be allocated to landowners. Landowners who post their land may not apply for a muzzleloader landowner antlerless deer permit.

Information on antlerless deer hunting for 2015 is available at The public can comment by sending an email to by May 25.

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