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 had successful deer seasons in 2017, taking 3,585 deer in archery season, 1,461 in youth season, 7,272 in rifle season, and 3,631 in muzzleloader season. The 15,949 deer brought home by hunters yielded more than 3 million meals of local nutritious venison.
“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.
“The relatively high harvest was primarily due to the mild winters of 2016 and 2017 which allowed more deer to survive. Additionally, the department issued more muzzleloader antlerless deer permits this year to provide more harvest opportunity and to limit population growth in some parts of the state.”
The primary goal of Vermont’s deer management strategy is 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.
Each year the department operates biological check stations during deer hunting seasons to gather information on the age, sex, field dressed weight, antler characteristics, and overall health of Vermont’s deer herd. In 2017, biological data were collected from more than 1,200 deer examined during the two-day youth season and November rifle season.
To provide additional data, hunters submitted more than 2,800 teeth from bucks harvested during the rifle season. Fortin adds, “The effort made by hunters and many of our big game reporting stations to collect teeth during rifle season will greatly improve our understanding of Vermont’s buck population.”
The 2017 report on deer hunting seasons with final numbers will be on Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) in early February.