By Guy Page
Vermont wildlife management officials plan to control the growth of the state’s deer herd by authorizing over 19,400 antlerless deer permits during the upcoming 2022 archery, muzzleloader, and youth/novice hunting seasons. That’s a three percent decrease from the 20,000 permits issued last year.
State law defines “Antlerless Deer” as “those deer without antlers or antlers less than three (3″) inches in length.” The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board has held hearings on its 2022 Antlerless Harvest and Youth Season Recommendation and will hold two more hearings on May 10 and 12 to solicit public feedback.
The hearings are scheduled for 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the following locations:
Tuesday, May 10 – Bellows Falls Union High School, 406 High School Rd, Westminster, VT 05158
Thursday, May 12 – Vermont Fish and Wildlife Dept., 111 West St, Essex Junction, VT 05452
“In recent years, the department has successfully reduced deer numbers in many parts of Vermont to bring populations into balance with their habitat,” said Nick Fortin, deer and moose project leader for the Fish and Wildlife Department. “As a result, the 2022 recommendation aims to maintain current deer numbers in most of the state.”
Deer populations in five wildlife management units, primarily in the Champlain Valley, remain above their respective population objectives, and increased antlerless harvests are recommended in those areas to reduce deer numbers. The following is excerpted from the proposed plan:
The winter of 2022 was relatively easy for deer throughout most of Vermont. However, increased antlerless harvests in recent years have reduced deer numbers, or limited deer population growth, in many areas.
Increased antlerless harvest will need to continue in order to reduce deer densities.
To achieve established density objectives, the Department recommends the harvest of 7,121 antlerless deer during the 2022 hunting seasons. The Department recommends that antlerless harvest be authorized during the archery and youth/novice seasons in all WMUs.
After accounting for expected archery and youth/novice season harvests, the Department recommends that 3,107 antlerless deer be harvested, by permit, during the antlerless-only muzzleloader season in late October and the December muzzleloader season.
Achieving this harvest requires the issuance of 19,400 WMU-specific antlerless permits distributed among 19 of Vermont’s 21 WMUs (3 percent fewer permits than the 20,000 allotted in 2021).
Deer harvest patterns changed substantially in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and new hunting regulations, which created significant uncertainty when predicting the 2021 harvest. As a result, the 2021 antlerless harvest recommendation cautiously predicted high archery antlerless harvest and very high antlerless permit fill rates. However, archery antlerless harvest decreased considerably from 2020, and muzzleloader antlerless permit fill rates were similar to those observed before the new regulations.
As a result, the Department is more confident in predicting the antlerless harvest in 2022.
Categories: State Government