Good, solid hunting mentors like I had growing up are in serious demand these days. Without them, kids are content to sit inside, warm and dry with their faces glued to electronic devices. I never had that opportunity because electronic devices didn’t exist yet. I was forced to play outside. The out of doors, as near as I can tell, was the modern-day parental version of screen time. “Go outside!” my mother would often say with a sweet and kind tone to her voice. An aging group of mentors and kids growing up with no desire to step foot in the woods is a bad combination!
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?