Smaller herd, challenging conditions explain low numbers
The final number of deer taken in Vermont’s 2021 hunting seasons will not be available for a few more weeks, but the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says the final tally will be around 15,600 deer. Those deer will provide about 3.1 million servings of venison.
The buck harvest will be close to 9,000, which will be down slightly from 2020 (9,255) but near the 10-year average of 8,938. The final antlerless deer harvest will be around 6,600, down considerably from 9,735 in 2020, but similar to antlerless harvests prior to 2020. Some of that decrease was due to the department issuing fewer muzzleloader antlerless permits this year. However, the archery season harvest, which accounts for much of the total antlerless deer harvest, will also be down substantially from 2020.
“Some decline in the harvest was expected this year, as we’ve been working to reduce deer numbers in some areas to keep them in balance with the available habitat,” said Nick Fortin, the department’s deer project leader. “Hunting conditions were also challenging again this year. Warm weather and abundant fall foods limited deer movement and made it difficult for hunters to locate them. Changes in hunting participation and effort related to the pandemic likely affected this year’s harvest as well.”
The primary goal of Vermont’s deer management strategy is to keep the deer herd stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat. “Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures deer and the habitats that support them remain in good condition and productive,” said Fortin.
The 2021 White-tailed Deer Harvest Report with final numbers will be on Fish and Wildlife’s website in early March. Beginning in late March, the department will be holding informational hearings to share biological information and to listen to any information people wish to share.