I agree completely with your analysis of the deer season. I too hunt in and around the NEK, although mostly at the southern end of it. This year provided some very good deer sighting days with some in our hunting party seeing as many as 30 deer this season. I saw 2 legal buck, and both were with a doe. I also noted a good number of young deer, an indication, I feel, is due to the milder winter mentioned by Kevjack. I agree that deer densities vary by year, and micro-geographic region within our state, and I also feel that the state's biologist have been taking proactive steps to manage our deer statewide over the past few years. Will it be perfect? absolutely not. Vermont has a long standing tradition of being naturally stable (or so we have been told) so the agressive herd managment tactics the state has implemented are still new for both the biologists and hunters. I think that the antler restrictions have improved overall hunter satisfaction as far as the quality of bucks being taken, as is proved by such organizations as the Vermont Big Game Trophy Club. We have the great fortune to be part of the group of hunters that is behind the great changes occuring in the world of Vermont deer hunting, and it is exciting to know that some of the oppurtunities we are getting have never been seen in the state before.
All of this comes at a cost, however. And as further prodding to get some others to comment, I offer another point of view (essentially just a thought I have had).
1) The 3 deer limit. In most areas of the state, Mine included, harvesting even one buck within your hunting GROUP is considered successful. I do not know many individual hunters that harvest more than 1 vermont buck a year, let alone 2, and a doe. It would seem that reducing the limit to less than 3 would eliminate crucial dollars from hunters that hunt every discipline, from bow to muzzleloader. a 3 deer limit would allow the taking of a single animal in any season, and for the fraction of hunters that may have an opportunity at a second buck, i dont feel they should end up eating their tags for other seasons because they have already limited out. (I am aware that it is possible to get 2 in archery and one in rifle and have to eat your muzzleloader tag). My point: the 3 deer limit is as much about supporting our fish and game department (a department starved of funding) and local economy as it is about controlling the deer numbers. a possible solution? Provide incentives (for example, limit the land access permitted hunters during special seasons so they know they will not have walkers and dogs running around) for hunters to hunt public land in areas where deer densities are on the rise. this will allow hunters to buck-hunt their favorite spots without over harvesting deer (if the population is strained).
2)Antler restrictions (this could be a whole new thread). As we kill more 2.5 and 3.5 yr old buck, we open the door for 1.5 yr Buck to become the main breeding stock in the population. at this young age we see a great amount of genetic inferiority that would otherwise be outcompeted by a more dominant buck as the population balances. However, a 1.5yrold spike horn that breeds a doe will produce a weak racked buck. Couple that with a lack of nutrition and minerals and we will have another generation of small, spindly racks. My point: as it relates to this thread, we need to balance the B:D ratios statewide. This will increase competition among the bucks and force inferior bucks out of the breeding stock (and hopefully into the freezer!). Secondly, the only way to get older buck is to let some grow. This may require extra restrictions (ie 3pt on one side). I have heard rumors of this and I would be interested to hear peoples input. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we as hunters need to examine what is important to us. are we happy with 130lb 4ptr? (for the record i have shot several of these and loved every minute of it!!) OR would we like to get to the point where we are dragging 200 pounders out? These big boys dont happen by accident and it takes alot of hunter discipline to pass on the smaller, younger bucks first (something i currently lack). My resoning: if i dont shoot it, someone else will...
Now yall got me goin! ha. Lets get this thread fired up! this is great stuff!