More Older Bucks, Thanks to Restrictions?

Vermont has more older bucks in its deer population as a result of the antler point restriction that went into effect in 2005.

Hunters should feel upbeat about the state’s deer hunting seasons this year, according to Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski.

Vermont“Vermont’s deer herd has benefitted from two relatively mild winters in a row,” said Murkowski. “Mild winter weather coupled with a healthy and robust deer population mean herd growth is expected in many regions of the state this year, and hunters can choose between several different deer hunting opportunities starting in October and continuing into December.”

“It is important that hunters continue to act as local wildlife managers and stewards through harvesting an adequate number of antlerless deer this year. Maintaining a healthy deer herd is beneficial to Vermont hunters, the deer, and the habitats that support them. Scientific management of the state’s deer herd would not be possible without the active participation of Vermont hunters.”

In Vermont a hunter may take up to three deer in a calendar year in any combination of seasons (Archery, Youth Weekend, November Rifle Season, December Muzzleloader). Of these, only two may be legal bucks, and only one buck may be taken in each season. A “legal buck” is a deer with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer. All three deer in the annual bag limit may be antlerless deer taken in archery, youth or muzzleloader seasons.

The current antler point regulation (APR), that began in 2005, is designed to protect yearling bucks from high levels of harvest. The department believes the current APR has been successful in increasing the number of older bucks in the deer population. Spike-antlered deer are protected except during the youth deer weekend. A point must be one inch or longer from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point, regardless of length.

Archery Season Oct. 5-27 and December 7-15

Vermont’s archery deer hunting season offers hunters the chance to take up to three deer with three archery licenses. No more than one of the deer taken during archery season may be a legal buck. No antlerless deer may be taken in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) E, where antlerless deer hunting is prohibited in 2013.

Youth Deer Weekend Nov. 9-10

Youth deer hunting weekend, open to residents and nonresidents, is open the Saturday and Sunday before the regular rifle season. Anyone, resident or nonresident, who is 15 years old or younger on the weekend of the hunt and who has successfully completed a hunter safety course may purchase a hunting license and obtain a free youth deer hunting tag.

The young hunter must be accompanied by an unarmed adult over 18 years of age who holds a Vermont hunting license. Landowner permission is required in order to hunt on private land during the youth deer hunt weekend.

A young hunter who has obtained a Vermont hunting license and youth deer tag may take one deer of either sex during youth deer hunting weekend. The antler restriction that applies for other Vermont deer seasons does not apply for youth deer hunting weekend.

Rifle Season Nov. 16-Dec. 1

Vermont’s November rifle season begins on the Saturday 12 days before Thanksgiving and runs for 16 consecutive days. The rifle season offers the opportunity to enjoy north country deer hunting at its best. One legal buck with at least one antler having two or more points may be taken anywhere in the state during this season.

Muzzleloader Season Dec. 7-15

During the muzzleloader season one legal buck may be taken with at least one antler having two or more points with the muzzleloader license tag. A regular hunting license must be purchased to get the muzzleloader license.

In addition to a legal buck, a muzzleloader hunter who received an antlerless permit may take an antlerless deer in the Wildlife Management Unit indicated on the permit. These permits are scheduled to be sent to selected hunters on or before October 17.

Planning Your Hunt

The 2012 Vermont Deer Harvest Report, available from the Fish and Wildlife Department’s web site ( has a wealth of information to help plan a hunt, including the number of deer taken in each town. Click on “Hunting and Trapping” and “Big Game” to download a copy of the report.

Vermont’s regular hunting licenses, including a November rifle season buck tag, still cost only $22 for residents and $100 for nonresidents. Hunters under 18 years of age get a break at $8 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

Hunters must have a standard hunting license in order to purchase an add-on archery deer hunting license ($20 residents, $38 nonresidents), except that nonresidents may purchase an “archery only deer license” costing just $75.

Muzzleloader licenses are $20 for residents, $40 for nonresidents, and a regular hunting license is required first.

Licenses are quickly and easily available on Fish and Wildlife’s web site and from license agents statewide.

The “2013 Vermont Hunting, Fishing & Trapping LAWS and GUIDE” explains all of Vermont’s hunting regulations and includes maps showing public hunting areas. It is available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website and where licenses are sold.

In Vermont you can enjoy your hunting any day of the week, including Sundays, and all seasons are open equally for residents and nonresidents.

Contact the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for more information. Telephone 802-828-1000 or Email