Vermont deer hunters had successful deer hunting seasons in
2012. The archery, youth, rifle, and muzzleloader deer hunting
seasons' harvest totals were all within management objectives set
by the Fish & Wildlife Department.
The total harvest for all four seasons increased in 2012 by 14
percent from the previous year's harvest. Hunters harvested
6,300 deer during rifle season, an increase of 9 percent over last
year's rifle harvest of 5,759 deer.
"There are going to be fluctuations in the deer harvest from
year to year based on the severity of the previous winter, food
availability, and deer density," said Mark Scott, director of
wildlife for the Fish & Wildlife Department. "We anticipate
those fluctuations in harvest and try to manage for a healthy and
stable deer herd; to keep the fluctuations small rather than seeing
big booms and crashes."
Last winter's relatively mild weather and shallow snow depths
likely contributed to this fall's elevated deer harvest.
Additionally, the low availability of traditional food sources such
as apple orchards and beech and oak stands this past summer and
fall resulted in deer changing their movement patterns.
The archery season harvest rose this year by 25 percent, to
3,384 deer. This number was also above the previous
three-year average of 2,825 deer. Youth hunters harvested
1,784 deer this year, representing a 9 percent increase over the
2011 harvest, and an increase from the previous three-year average
of 1,661 deer.
"Youth weekend continues to prove successful in recruiting young
hunters to help preserve Vermont's hunting heritage," said Adam
Murkowski, deer project leader for the Fish & Wildlife
Department. "This weekend is important for providing young
hunters with opportunities to make memories with family and mentors
that will last a lifetime."
Hunters harvested 2,482 deer with muzzleloaders in 2012,
representing a 16 percent increase from last year. "This
year's successful muzzleloader harvest is the result of a moderate
increase in the number of antlerless permits approved by the
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board," explained Murkowski. "The
antlerless limit allows for a slow growth in the herd while
maintaining deer densities within population objectives set forth
in Vermont's big game plan."
"This was a particularly good year for hunters taking deer with
larger body and rack sizes," added Curtis Smiley, President of the
Big Game Trophy Club. "There were multiple deer throughout
the state that were reported to weigh over 230 pounds and one that
was reported at 247 pounds."
All harvest totals are subject to recount, which may result in
small changes in harvest totals in the final report due in
Hunters interested in deer management and Vermont's new deer
planning process are encouraged to attend one of two public input
meetings, held from 7-9 p.m. at the Kehoe Conservation Camp in
Castleton on Jan. 30 and at Spaulding High School Cafeteria in
Barre on Jan. 31.