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Deer Hunting

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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.

Greatest deer densities are found in eastern counties south of St. Johnsbury, as well as the southeast, southwest and northwest quarters of the state. The Green Mountains up the center of the state 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, 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.

Deer Regulation Updates

Deer regulations may be updated annually. Regulations on antlerless deer hunting are issued in the fall. The regulations list the Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 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 ( for these and other new regulations.



Bow & Arrow

Oct. 6 – 28 & Dec. 1 – 9

Youth Deer Weekend

Nov. 3 – 4

16 Day Regular Season

Nov. 10 – 25


Dec. 1 – 9

Annual Limit

THREE deer per year — only TWO may be LEGAL BUCKS in any combination of seasons (Archery, Youth Weekend, Nov. Rifle, Dec. Muzzleloader). See annual regulations.

Hunting Hours

Hunting hours are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. (See Sunrise/Sunset Tables.)

Tagging Deer

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.

Transporting Deer

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:

  • By the person who shot the deer.
  • When accompanied by the person who shot the deer (including moving the deer from kill-site to camp or motor vehicle).
  • By a person who holds a mentored hunting license, unaccompanied by the fully licensed adult hunter.
  • When transported by common carrier (for example, a shipping company) and tagged with the name of the consignor and consignee, name of station shipped from, and its destination.

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.

Baiting Deer

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:

  • Incidental feeding of wildlife within active livestock operations;
  • Standing crops planted and left standing as food plots for wildlife;
  • Grain or other feed scattered or distributed solely as a result of normal agricultural, gardening, or soil stabilization, and logging practices; and
  • Vegetation or food/seed naturally deposited.

Feeding Deer

It is illegal to feed wild deer at any time except:

  • Under a license or permit issued by Fish & Wildlife for scientific research, mitigation of wildlife damage or nuisance problems, or wildlife population reduction programs;
  • By planting, cultivating or harvesting of crops directly associated with agricultural practices, including planted wildlife food plots;
  • By distribution of food for livestock directly associated with agricultural practices;
  • By the cutting of trees or brush; or
  • By incidental feeding by bird/squirrel feeders elevated at least 5 feet above the ground, providing seed, grain, fruit, worms, or suet for birds or squirrels, located within 100 feet of an occupied dwelling.

Swimming Deer

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

LEGAL BUCK: A white-tailed deer with at least one antler having two or more points.

POINT: An antler projection of at least one inch measured from base to tip. A broken main beam shall count as a point, regardless of length.

ANTLERLESS DEER: Those deer without antlers or with no antler longer than three (3) inches.

Spike Yearlings Protected

Deer with spike antlers may not be taken except during Youth Deer Hunting Weekend if allowed annually by the Fish & Wildlife Board.

Bow & Arrow Deer Season — Oct. 6–28 and Dec. 1–9, 2012

LICENSE: Any person wishing to hunt deer with a bow and arrow during archery deer season must have an archery license/tag.

LIMIT: No more than three deer may be taken during the archery season. One legal buck may be taken during the archery season anywhere in the state. In 2010 and 2011, Wildlife Management Unit E was 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 ( 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. For this season, a person must have a bow and arrow license in addition to the regular hunting license (except for nonresident hunters with an archery-only license).



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. 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.

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:

  • The hunter must request permission from the State Game Warden. Call the nearest State Police office, giving exact location and circumstances.
  • The hunter may not take a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow on the search, only a knife to dress the deer.
  • The hunter must notify the landowner of his/her intentions before starting out to recover the deer.

Youth Deer Hunting Weekend—Nov. 3-4, 2012

Vermont’s youth deer hunting weekend is on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the opening of the regular November 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 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 is accompanying the youth and who has the youth hunter in his or her charge.

November Rifle Deer Season — Nov. 10-25, 2012

LIMIT: One legal buck with at least one antler having two or more points may be taken anywhere in the state.

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.

Muzzleloader Deer Season — Dec. 1-9, 2012

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.

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This is not the full law. Consult the Fish and Wildlife Department for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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