Well after going three seasons of not seeing deer, both bow and rifle, basically I've had to reevaluate if this is something that is worth my time and money, as I would with anything that I was unsuccessful at. I have no precedence of success in my area to fall back on.
It certainly seems like I have to change my expectations. Deer hunting where I am in Vermont may not be realistic for me. My wife is from Vermont and I grew up hunting in Mass in my teens, on a property my parents no longer own, where I could consistently see deer and sit maybe ten feet from a run without a stand during bow and get a doe and sometimes get a buck. Nothing huge, but it was rewarding and a good overall experience. I would see squirells in the trees and hawks hunting the squirrels, etc. Always a good time.
Here it basically seems like I have to build a good environment for wildlife from the ground up. There are huge sections of forest that are like a graveyard. You can sit there for hours and not see a bird, a rodent of any kind. There is literally no food, except maybe just enough for some mice. I don't even see chipmunks! The deer move a lot, have tons of runs, cover huge stretches of ground it seems to find food. They will wait for all the apples to drop from a few trees and let them sit for weeks before hitting them in one single sitting, and then they are gone. That's good if you happen to be there, not so good if you don't have the entire bow, rifle and muzzle loader season to dedicate. I don't necessarily fault the F&W for this, I mean what can they do really?
I have found areas on public land, not exactly in my vicinity, but close that have deer sign. So have many other hunters though! Sitting fifty feet from ten other guys, waiting for a deer to come over a ridge is not my idea of hunting.
Everyone's set of variables will be different of course, but for me, based on my lack of deer sightings during hunting season, and also during the rest of the year, I am starting to question if it's worth it or I should just wait to see if deer start showing up on my own property once their is enough incentive to do so. Then I will have to decide whether I want to buy a license. I don't know, I really don't.
I will probably give it one or two more seasons, given the scouting I did lately. I will buy the fishing liscense, I can see where my money is being spent there, they spend time and money raising fish, then drive them around the state and dump them in the lakes and streams for me to catch! Last year I limited out many many times, so get it. The deer, we'll see. Maybe I will try that ridge I found after the season was over this year.