Vermont has high quality deer hunting due to a rural landscape, good habitat, lots of public land open to hunting, regulations allowing young bucks to mature before being hunted, and plenty of deer.
The greatest deer densities are found in eastern counties south of St. Johnsbury, as well as the southwest and northwest quarters of the state. Generally, the Green Mountain range and the Northeast Kingdom have fewer deer but more remote country for hunters who like to get into bigger woods.
Vermont has a three-deer annual limit, only two of which may be legal bucks. Three archery licenses are allowed in archery season. November brings a youth weekend and the traditional 16-day rifle season for bucks with one antler having two or more points one inch or longer. A hunting license comes with a buck tag for the November rifle season. The muzzleloader season offers more deer hunting opportunity in early December with an additional muzzleloader license. Check for latest regulations at our website: www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
Deer regulations are usually updated annually. The deer permit numbers for antlerless deer hunting for each WMU are issued in the late spring or early summer. After public notice and hearings, the Board lists the Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) that are open for antlerless deer hunting during archery season and during muzzleloader season by a lottery for a limited number of permits. Check the Fish & Wildlife website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) for these and other new regulations.
A person shall not take more than three deer in a calendar year, only two of which may be “legal bucks” (See definition below). A hunter may take no more than one legal buck per season (youth, archery, rifle, muzzleloader). Although archery season is divided into an early and late portion, it is considered a single season.
Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. (See Sunrise/Sunset Tables.)
Deer must be tagged immediately when taken. The tag must be placed on the carcass open to view and remain there until the carcass is cut up for consumption.
A person taking deer shall within 48 hours report the taking and exhibit the carcass to the nearest game warden, official Fish & Wildlife Department Reporting Station, or to a person designated by the commissioner to receive the reports. No deer carcass shall be transported out of state without first being reported.
A tagged deer may be transported only during the open season and for 20 days thereafter.
Deer may be legally transported only under these conditions:
The appropriate deer tag must be securely attached to the deer in these circumstances.
When transporting parts of a deer, the parts or package must be marked with name and address of the person who killed the deer.
Deer do not need to be visible when transported.
Also, see the Transporting and Importing sections under Big Game and the general transporting section.
It is illegal to hunt or take any wild animal by using bait during any deer hunting season, except that trappers may use bait in taking furbearers. BAIT is defined as any animal, vegetable, fruit or mineral matter placed with the intention of attracting wildlife. Natural and artificial scents and lures, provided they are not designed to be consumed by eating or licking, or any scent placed on clothing for the purposes of providing cover scent, shall not be bait.
It is illegal to take deer by using bait with the following exceptions:
It is illegal to feed wild deer at any time except:
It is illegal to take a deer that is swimming in any lake, pond, river or other body of water.
Definitions of Terms for Deer Seasons
Deer with spike antlers may not be taken except during Youth Deer Hunting Weekend and only if allowed annually by the Fish & Wildlife Board.
LICENSES: Any person wishing to hunt deer with a bow and arrow during archery deer season must have an archery license/tag. A hunting or combination hunting and fishing license is required in addition to an archery license, except for nonresident archery-only deer license.
LIMIT: No more than three deer may be taken during the archery season. One legal buck may be taken during the two-part October and December archery season anywhere in the state. For purposes of the one legal buck annual archery season limit, the October and December seasons are considered one season and hunters may take only one legal buck during the entire season. In 2014, Wildlife Management Units D2 and E were NOT open to antlerless deer hunting during archery season. All other WMUs were open to the taking of antlerless deer during archery season. Check Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) in August to see which WMUs are open to antlerless deer hunting in archery season.
Deer must be taken by bow (long bow, recurve bow or compound bow) and arrows. The arrowhead must be at least 7⁄8 of an inch in width with two or more cutting edges.
It is illegal to carry a rifle, shotgun or muzzleloader while bow hunting deer in the bow and arrow season.
A hunter may possess a pistol or revolver while archery hunting. The pistol or revolver MAY NOT be used to take game or dispatch the deer.
CROSSBOWS ARE ILLEGAL FOR HUNTING. Exception: A crossbow may be used by special permit to take any game that may be taken by bow and arrow. This special permit, issued to a person so physically impaired that he or she cannot operate a standard bow, allows that person to hunt with a crossbow. A permit applicant must produce a licensed physician’s certificate certifying that the disability requires the use of a crossbow. Obtain an application from Fish & Wildlife before visiting your doctor. Applicant must also appear before a state game warden to obtain a crossbow license. Be sure to make an appointment ahead of time.
Unless it is uncocked, it is illegal to possess or transport a crossbow in or on a motor vehicle, motor boat, airplane, snowmobile, or other motor-propelled craft or any vehicle drawn by a motor-propelled vehicle. (Check during the year for any regulation changes on the use of crossbows.)
RECOVERY OF BOW & ARROW DEER AFTER HOURS: Department policy allows a hunter who has wounded a deer with an arrow to look for the deer after the close of legal shooting time under the following conditions:
Vermont’s youth deer hunting weekend is on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the opening of the regular November rifle deer season.
A resident or nonresident youth, 15 years of age or younger on the weekend of the hunt, who has successfully completed a hunter safety course must obtain a free youth deer hunting tag to hunt during this season. The youth must also purchase a Vermont hunting license at a license agent by either showing proof of satisfactorily completing the hunter safety course or proof of having held a valid hunting license previously. The youth hunter’s parent or guardian must sign the hunting license application in the presence of the license agent.
When hunting, the youth hunter must be accompanied by an unarmed adult over 18 years of age who holds a valid Vermont hunting license. The adult may accompany no more than two youth hunters at any given time. The adult must have direct control and supervision, including the ability to see and communicate with the youth hunter without the aid of artificial devices such as radios or binoculars, except for medically necessary devices such as hearing aids or eyeglasses.
LANDOWNER PERMISSION IS REQUIRED by law in order to hunt on private land with a youth deer tag during youth deer weekend. All relevant game laws and regulations apply during the YOUTH DEER HUNTING WEEKEND, including the prohibition on baiting and road hunting.
A Vermont youth deer hunting tag is valid for one deer on youth deer hunting weekend in accordance with the rules of the Fish & Wildlife Board announced annually.
The amount of a fine will be doubled for a violation on Youth Deer Hunting Weekend, and the fine shall be assessed against the licensed adult who has the youth hunter in his or her charge.
LIMIT: One legal buck with at least one antler having two or more points may be taken anywhere in the state. A person shall not take more than three white-tailed deer in a year in all deer hunting seasons, only two of which may be legal bucks.
Licenses: Muzzleloader license and hunting license required.
LIMIT: One legal buck with at least one antler having two or more points may be taken anywhere in the state. In addition, with an antlerless permit issued by the department, a person may take an antlerless deer within the authorized WMU.
NOTE: In any calendar year, a person shall not take more than three white-tailed deer in that year, only two of which may be legal bucks.
DEFINITION OF MUZZLELOADING FIREARM: A single-shot, single-barrel rifle or smoothbore firearm with a minimum barrel length of 20 inches, designed to be fired from the shoulder or a single-shot pistol with a minimum barrel length of 10 inches. Both rifle and pistol must be incapable of being loaded from the breach without the use of tools, and must have a minimum bore diameter of 0.43 inches and an ignition system of traditional or modern flintlock, caplock, matchlock, in-line or wheellock style.
DEFINITION OF AMMUNITION FOR MUZZLELOADERS: Black powder or other suitable non-smokeless propellant, and a single ball or bullet.
DEFINITION OF LOADED MUZZLELOADER: The muzzleloading firearm shall be considered loaded when it has been charged with powder and projectile and is primed or capped.
SPECIAL PROVISIONS: A person who purchases a muzzleloader deer license shall not carry, while deer hunting during the muzzleloader deer season, any firearms other than one single-barreled muzzleloading firearm.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.