The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says preliminary numbers show 15,949 deer were taken during Vermont’s 2017 deer hunting seasons.
Reports from big game check stations indicate hunters took 3,585 deer in archery season, 1,461 in youth season, 7,272 in rifle season, and 3,631 in muzzleloader season.
“The legal buck harvest of 9,477 was 8 percent more than the previous three-year average of 8,760, and the third-highest buck harvest since 2002,” said deer project leader Nick Fortin. “Harvest numbers increased during the archery, youth and muzzleloader seasons, and the total harvest of 15,949 is also the third highest since 2002.
Department officials said that mild winters of 2016 and 2017 allowed more deer to survive, boosting the overall population. Additionally, the department issued more muzzleloader antlerless deer permits this past fall to provide more hunting opportunities and to limit population growth in some parts of the state.
Vermont’s deer management strategy aims to keep the deer herd stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat. “Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures deer and the habitats that support them remain in good condition and productive,” said Fortin.
The check stations open during hunting season gathered information on the age, sex, weight and overall health of Vermont’s deer herd. Details were collected from more than 1,200 deer examined during the two-day youth season and November rifle season, state officials said. Hunters also submitted more than 2,800 teeth from bucks during the rifle season which, Fortin added, should contribute to the understanding of Vermont’s buck population.
The final 2017 report on deer hunting seasons will be on Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s website vtfishandwildlife.com in early February.