Few things get my adrenaline flowing like catching a fleeting glimpse of a white-tailed deer. Deer hunting is a chance to pit my knowledge of the land against the keen senses of the white-tailed deer. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to make memories with family and friends. Regardless of why you hunt there is a common bond that binds all sportsmen and women. Hunting connects you to the land in a way that is achievable through no other means.
I remember standing over the first deer I harvested with mixed emotions. My excitement was coupled with a newfound respect for the preciousness and fragility of life. As I stood over that deer I knew I had done something that was right, that was good, and that I was playing an important role in something larger than myself. The values and ethics I gained from deer hunting made me a better person. It is for these reasons we must do everything we can to ensure Vermont’s strong hunting tradition continues into the future. Simply put, hunting makes people better.
Ensuring Vermont’s hunting tradition perpetuates into the future will require continued participation and collaboration between the citizens of Vermont, the Fish & Wildlife Department and the Fish and Wildlife Board. The focus of deer management now lies in balancing the deer population within the limits of the land’s carrying capacity. Coupled with a large number of hunters pursuing a limited number of deer, new challenges exist to produce fair and judicious regulations determining how Vermont’s deer will be hunted. Thus, deer management strategies must be looked at cohesively to balance opportunity across a variety of user groups.
Furthermore, a considerable amount of habitat and land use changes have occurred in Vermont since the first buck only season in 1897. Changing habitats, deer populations, and hunter demographics can be seen in the evolution of deer harvest regulations over this time period. Deer management is and will continue to be an adaptive process in the future as our state continues to change.
The participation of Vermonters in helping to guide and implement deer management strategies is critical to the continued evolution of deer management. Working collaboratively to manage Vermont’s deer herd ensures the culture, traditions, and experiences that made us deeply passionate about the outdoors will be fostered and promoted. Please lead by example this fall and show the next generation what it means to be a safe and ethical hunter.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.