As the popular Sesame Street song goes, “One of these things is not like the other…” When it comes to deer hunting in early November, Vermont is certainly the thing in the song that is not like the others. I have often pondered why Vermont doesn’t have an open deer season for the general public during the pre-rut phase, which in Vermont occurs in the first half of November. This part of the rut is considered by many as the most exciting time to hunt bucks, not only because the chances of successfully filling a tag are higher, but because the overall experience is better. Bucks are on the move cruising for does, making scrape lines, and more receptive to calling. That combination can make for an exciting hunt!
To say I was a proud papa would be an understatement. I had dreamed about this day for a long time. Nicole started going out hunting with me when she was about 10 years old. We started with youth waterfowl season and progressed into youth deer season. After a couple years, she decided she didn't want to hunt deer anymore. When I asked her why, she said "You know Dad, I have a hard time being quiet." Fair enough. Then when she turned 16 years old, she decided on her own to get her hunter safety. I was really stoked.
We hunted deer her first year holding a license, and she actually saw her first deer in the woods. It was carrying the mail when it went by, but she was hooked.
“It’s just a doe,” I told my wife when I called her. The words didn’t feel right when I said them because I was happy with the doe, and I didn’t mean to diminish the accomplishment – or the doe. I won’t lie – I was hoping for a buck – but I was ready to shoot a doe. That’s what I did.
There are a couple of reasons I was willing to shoot a buck or a doe. First, I’ve hardly seen a deer this year and with Vermont Rifle Season right around the corner I wanted to make sure I put some venison in the freezer. Second, my wife really wanted venison.
After months of studying the numbers I’ve finally decided to write about my conclusions of what would happen if a 3 point per side antler restriction (AR) was implemented in Vermont. My wife is tired of me always sitting with my notebook full of notes and a calculator while we watch TV and talking about it in my sleep. She cares not what percentage of the buck population actually carries 3 or more points on a side no matter how many times I tell her.
Keep in mind that these are my own opinions and are not affiliated with anyone else or any organization. The reality is that determining the number of legal bucks under a new regulation, such as higher antler restrictions, is complicated and there are a ton a variables such as winter severity, predation, poaching, disease, hunter wounded deer, etc. that can widely affect the outcome of my study. However, I’m dumb enough to give it a shot, so here it goes…you can decided for yourself if my overview is worth anything.
Ultimately, I wanted to understand a couple of things:
- If a 3 pt AR had been implemented in 2014 what would the harvest have looked like?
- How long would it take to restore current harvest levels? More importantly, could they be restored?
For what it’s worth I decided to summarize my thoughts after attending the Public Deer hearing in Brattleboro, VT last night. Much to my surprise there were no deer at the meeting, just hunters who wanted to debate different ways to kill them. Who named it Public Deer hearing? Talk about false advertising. Thankfully I’m easy going and found the debate interesting, even if it was between biologists and hunters instead of a herd of deer.
The format for the evening was the same as last year. The meeting started off with a review of the moose and deer harvest reports followed by a short question time for people who needed clarification on some aspect of the reports. Next, a presentation was given on the proposed rule changes, followed again by questions for those who needed clarification. Then we broke into small groups to give our input on the proposed rule changes to the coming season. We were given 45 minutes for this and at the end of that time a group member summarized the group’s thoughts in front of the crowd and turned in the comment sheet all the thoughts were recorded on. Finally, the meeting closed with time for those in attendance to have the floor to themselves to speak their mind for two minutes if they so desired. Some rambled on for the longest two minutes I've ever experienced.