ADDISON COUNTY — Despite unseasonably warm and thus uncooperative weather, the local rifle deer season got off to a solid start this past Saturday and Sunday with 148 deer reported to seven Addison County weigh stations.
That total represents a 22 percent increase over the 122 deer taken during the opening weekend of the disappointing 2011 rifle season, and it comes on the heels of the most productive Youth Hunting Weekend in at least eight years (see related story).
And that total does not include any deer that may have been taken to East Middlebury’s C&S Hunting Supplies, because its owner could not be reached earlier this week, or Ferrisburgh’s Mid-State Shooting Sports.
Mid-State has signs posted that it is going out of business; the business phone was not working, and the store was not open earlier this week. Neighboring business owners said they did not believe deer had been weighed there, and a representative of the company handling the sale of Mid-State’s assets did not know if the store was handling deer. It is also possible that some deer that might normally have been weighed at Mid-State were taken instead to Chittenden County.
Still, the start falls short of 2010’s opening weekend of 192 deer, and hunters and storeowners are blaming the weather that hit the 50s in the mountains and 60s in the valley on Sunday.
Vermont Field Sports owner Dick Phillips said bare ground and balmy temperatures give bucks little reason to wander and thus present themselves to hunters.
“There’s nothing moving because it’s so warm,” Phillips said, adding hunters would “like a little snow on the ground and some colder weather.”
Still, there is general agreement there are more deer out there to be had, and thus optimism that results will be good for the rest of the season. Lincoln General Store owner Vaneasa Stearns, who said it was so warm she broke out her flip-flops, said there are plenty of hunters and that she and other residents have seen plenty of potential targets.
“We saw lots and lots of deer this year,” Stearns said.
According to the official Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife estimate, the herd is a little bigger — 125,000 compared to 123,000 — thanks to the mild 2011-2012 winter.
“Deer populations have benefited from excellent survival during the mildest winter recorded over the last four decades and good fawning conditions during the spring and summer,” said department deer project leader Adam Murkowski.
The department also expressed optimism for rifle season in a recent press release: “As of Nov. 7, the number of deer taken during the October portion of archery season was 2,420 … This represents nearly a 20 percent increase over the average for the past three years at this time.”
The deer population may be bigger, but the size of individual animals may be smaller, although evidence is mixed locally. Stearns and West Addison General Store owner Dana Franklin both see a trend toward lower weights among the animals they have seen so far this year, and only three 200-pounders were killed this past weekend compared to five on opening weekend of 2011.
“They’re smaller, that’s for sure,” said Franklin.
But the deer moved the scales more at Buxton’s Store in Orwell, where nine weighed 170 to 179 pounds, two weighed between 180 and 189, two came in between 190 and 199, and two topped 200.
The largest shot in rifle season were taken by Jesse Booska, a 218-pound, 8-pointer shot in Orwell, and by Glenn Telgen, a 215-pound, 8-pointer killed in Shoreham; those were both weighed at Buxton’s.
Travis Paquette had a 218-pound, 8-pointer weighed at New Haven’s Village Green Market, but it had only been field-dressed — unlike the other animals its heart, lungs and liver had not been removed.
Two other 200-pound-plus trophy animals have been taken this spring. During bow season, James Dragon killed a 216-pound, 11-pointer in Sudbury, and during Youth Hunting Weekend, Nicholas Duprey brought a 213-pound, 7-pointer to Buxton’s after shooting it in Sudbury.
The following hunters were successful on the opening weekend of rifle season and had their deer weighed at the Village Green Market in New Haven; Middlebury’s Vermont Field Sports; Buxton’s Store; the Jerusalem Corner Store in Starksboro; or the Panton, Lincoln or West Addison general stores.
They are listed by name, town of kill, and by pounds and points. Unlike Youth Hunting Weekend, when youngsters may take any deer, in rifle season hunters may only shoot bucks with antlers.
VILLAGE GREEN MARKET
Randy Boise, New Haven, 194-8; James Ford, New Haven, 169-7; Lester Whittemore, New Haven, 115-3; Matthew Hunter, Hinesburg, 131-4; Joshua Litch, Middlebury, 120-4; Chad Whittemore, Waltham, 117-7; Allan Duclos, New Haven, 158-7; James Choiniere, Addison, 165-8; James Foley, New Haven, 164-8; Chris Huston, Waltham, 165-8; Craig Newton, Waltham, 160-9; and Ryan Fraser, Bristol, 126-5.
Also, Bruce Kraetchner, Monkton, 165-6; Evan Sherman, New Haven, 120-4; Tyler Laflam, Monkton, 144-3; Richard Greene, Charlotte, 184-10; Shayla Smith, Bridport, 122-3; Ron Dessureault, New Haven, 162-7; Randall Stearns, Ferrisburgh, 182-8; Matthew Deblois, Ferrisburgh, 140-4; Amos Higbee, Monkton, 160-4; Charles Paolantonio, Charlotte, 136-8; Case Roorda, New Haven, 160-5; Travis Paquette, Bristol, 218-8 (field-dressed); James Danyow, Ferrisburgh, 135-4; and Sheldon Briggs Jr., Ferrisburgh, 154-8.
VERMONT FIELD SPORTS
Peter Funk, Cornwall, 178-7; Michael Thompson, Middlebury, 110-4; Jordan Stearns, Middlebury, 135-3; Sandra Alexander, Cornwall, 123-3; Richard Miller, Middlebury, 110-3; Kenneth Wiggin Jr., Hinesburg, 118-6; Douglas Coburn, Salisbury, 127-7; Ronald DeVoid, Middlebury, 114-4; Jonathan Audy, New Haven, 123-3; and Frank Raymond, Middlebury, 136-6.
Also, William Veldman, Addison, 151-5; Martin Landon, Weybridge, 183-6; Tyler Pockette, Salisbury, 178-6; Christopher Coombs, New Haven, 123-4; Brandt Kaufman, Salisbury, 146-7; Bruce Berome, Leicester, 118-4; Stephen Butler, Middlebury, 150-4; Douglas Butler, Middlebury, 134-3; Casey Butler, Middlebury, 166-4; and Danny Raymond, Salisbury, 127-7.
Also, Adam Forbes, Warren, 138-4; Nikolas Devoid, Middlebury, 181-6; Glenn Hash, New Haven, 138 antlered buck; Douglas Brown, Middlebury, 123-8; Powers Benjamin, Shoreham, 116-3; Brad Loggia, Addison, 133-5; Morris Lackey, Shoreham, 143-4; Mathew Trueheart, New Haven, 142-3; Jay Malinowski, Leicester, 169-6; and Mark Ringey, Cornwall, 150-9.
Also, Harley Grice, Middlebury, 140-4; Andrew Malzac, Ripton, 135-6; Ed Malzac, Middlebury, 131-8; Mark Foster, Middlebury, 113-6; Keith LeBeau, New Haven, 106-3; Harvey Downs, Rochester, 152-6; William Mraz, Ripton, 125-8; and George Fjeld, Chelsea, 188-10.
PANTON GENERAL STORE
Jeff Brown, Charlotte, 137-6; Dowey Barrows, Ferrisburgh, 145-4; Randy Cameron, Ferrisburgh, 172-3; Andrew Raymond, Ferrisburgh, 164-8; Dan Bushey, Addison, 103-3; Matt Cousino, Monkton, 123-5; Todd Reed, Addison, 115-5; Larry Fleming, Addison, 154-6; Eric Preston, Panton, 152-4; Chris Groman, Ferrisburgh, 124-4; and Alan Whittemore, Ferrisburgh, 151-6.
LINCOLN GENERAL STORE
Robert LePage, Lincoln, 141-6; Richard Antone, Williston, 135-6; Ryan Smith, Lincoln, 121-5; Kyle Cousino, Bristol, 159-5; Nate Reynolds, Monkton, 182-5; Jason Twenge, Monkton, 91-4; Bradley Palmer, Charlotte, 183-8; Foster Tucker, Ripton, 148-8; Robert Patterson, Lincoln, 158-8; and Michael Tierney, Lincoln, 127-4.
Rodney Orvis, Starksboro, 166-8; Michael Grace, Bristol, 162-7; Jason Booska, Starksboro, 171-6; Mark Sherman, Starksboro, 172-8; Eric Jennings, Starksboro, 151-4; Matthew Niquette, Starksboro, 160-8; Grant Lewis, Huntington, 150-6; and Robert Clark, Huntington, 130-6.
Jesse Booska, Orwell, 218-8; Taylor Booska, Orwell, 175-8; Steve Manning, Orwell, 134-3; Katherine Connor, Shoreham, 174-8; Scott Assali, Orwell, 171-7; Benjamin Cadoret, Shoreham, 128-4; Cole Pepper, Orwell, 113-6; Glenn Telgen, Shoreham, 215-6; Dane Laduke, Shoreham, 140-7; Dennis Cummings, Orwell, 144-4; Derrick Clifford, Sudbury, 152-4; Dennis Breitigan, Orwell, 176-5; John Sullivan, Orwell, 144-5; and Kerrigan Disorda, Benson, 145-5.
Also, Nick Parent, Orwell, 144-5; Brian Disorda, Benson, 156-3; Josh Leonard, Rutland, 123-6; Hunter Pedro, West Haven, 175-7; David Ketcham, Orwell, 195-8; Dale Barber, Orwell, 176-7; Adam Sears, Sudbury, 169-6; Dennis Rheaume, Rupert, 157-7; Jim Booska, Orwell, 147-8; Ed Lanpher, Shoreham, 155-8; Ken Wedge, Middlebury, 156-3; Dave Quenneville, Whiting, 102-4; Steve Brileya, Shoreham, 178-4; Taylor Patterson, Shoreham, 117-4; and Jay Wilson, Orwell, 168-4.
Also, Jacob Birchmore, Sudbury, 185-9; Matt Wyse, Hubbardton, 144-6; Keith Betourney, Bridport, 140-3; Phil Harvey, Castleton, 172-10; Zach King, West Haven, 150-7; Robert Doane, Shoreham, 144-3; Stephen Blodgett, Shoreham, 165-5; Dylan D’Avignon, Orwell, 179-5; Dan Gosselin, Orwell, 160-8; Mike Matot, Shoreham, 124-4; Robert Ryan, Orwell, 195-8; Phil King, Orwell, 133-6; Marsha Pierce, Bakersfield, 135-3; and Terry Ryan, Shoreham, 130-3.
WEST ADDISON GENERAL
Felicia Armell, Addison, 122-5; Gary Grant, Addison, 120-5; Nathan Fleming, Addison, 114-4; Christopher Reed, Addison, 147-4; Brandon Richards, Addison, 184-6; Michael Collette, Addison, 140-3; Kevin Payne, Bridport, 130-4; Andrew Gendreau, Ferrisburgh, 151-4; Michael Shannon, Addison, 108-7; Louis Rivers, Addison, 117-3; and Blynn Danyow, Addison, 136-4.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindep