Why this vital resource is so important and what you can do to help maintain it.
Vermont stands among the few states privileged with legal access to private land for hunting, fishing and trapping. But posted land is increasingly taking away that privilege for sportsmen and women. The amount of posted land registered with the town in Vermont rose from 100,000 acres in 1971 to 230,000 acres thirty years later. These figures do not include the acreage of land posted, but not officially registered. You can do your part to decrease the amount of posted land in Vermont.
Hunting is important to Vermont’s culture and to the conservation of the state’s wildlife. Hunting generates a significant number of jobs in Vermont, giving the state’s tourism industry a boost between leaf-peeping season and winter skiing. Many Vermont families rely on game as a healthy source of meat that is natural, local, free-range, and organic.
Deer browsing has profound implications for Vermont’s forested ecosystems. Over-abundant deer can threaten endangered plant species, reduce cover and feed for other wildlife, and destroy habitat for nesting songbirds. They damage crops, gardens and flowers and bushes along people’s homes. Regulated hunting is a wildlife management tool that effectively controls deer densities.
Landowners should know that they are not liable for personal injury nor property damage claims by members of the public who access their land or water free of charge for recreational purposes. Many landowners find that granting access to their property to law-abiding, ethical hunters helps them keep a watchful eye out for unlawful or unethical activity on their land. “Road-hunting” has now become more difficult with the passage of The Sportsman’s Act of 2013 prohibiting hunting within 25 feet of a road and prohibiting shooting across a road.
The Sportsman’s Act also gave landowners the legal authority to enforce Hunting by Permission Only signs on their property. Some landowners post their land following a bad interaction with a single hunter. Hunting by Permission Only signs allow landowners to prohibit some hunters from using their land while keeping it open to those that have been given permission.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department urges hunters who wish to hunt on private land to get landowner permission before proceeding. Getting the landowner’s permission not only helps maintain good relations between hunters and the general public, but the landowners also can be helpful sources of knowledge of the trails and features of their property in ways that can benefit a hunter. And many landowners who post would still allow hunters who ask permission to hunt on their land.
Hunters should consider visiting the department’s Hunter Access Vermont website. The website maintains a database of private landowners and individuals seeking hunting access to private lands in order to match hunters with landowners seeking help in controlling deer damage. The Hunter Access Vermont website also offers tips for hunters and landowners on building strong partnerships, options for managing access and a downloadable Courtesy Permission Card.
While Vermont’s constitution protects the right to hunt on open lands, it is the hunter’s responsibility to be respectful of the landowners whose property they use. To ensure this tradition carries forward to the next generation, please be sure to be courteous to landowners and thank them for the opportunity to hunt on their land.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.