Buck kill is up 8 percent in 2013 Vermont deer season

MONTPELIER — Hunters took 14,107 deer during Vermont’s four deer hunting seasons in 2013, according to a report on last year’s hunting success released March 20 by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. 
The number of legal bucks with at least two points on one antler totaled 8,831, up 8 percent from the year before.
“We estimated there would be an increase in the deer population in 2013 due to two consecutive mild winters,” said state deer biologist Adam Murkowski. “The number of antlerless deer permits was increased last year by 16 percent in response to these mild winters and we maintained or reduced antlerless deer permits in other regions to promote population growth.”
Abundant apples, acorns and beechnuts that were available to deer last fall may have resulted in deer being more dispersed than in some previous years.  However, cold temperatures and snow in the November rifle season likely increased the ability of hunters to find, see and take deer, wildlife officials said.
Hunters took 3,212 deer in the archery season, 1,718 on youth weekend, 6,725 in the November rifle season, and 2,452 deer during the December muzzleloader season. 
Murkowski noted in an earlier press release that compared to the average of the previous three years, harvest levels rose during the archery and November rifle seasons and remained roughly level during youth season.
Department biologists operated 24 big game registration stations during the two-day youth hunt and eight stations during the November rifle season. Accurate data on the age, sex, weight, antler characteristics and overall health from 1,091 deer were collected with assistance from members of the University of Vermont Fisheries and Wildlife Society (UVM-TWS). Biologists and UVM-TWS members also assisted the Department of Health in monitoring for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE).
Biological data from the check stations show that Vermont’s deer are healthier than in the past, with the average yearling buck weighing 10 pounds more than in the 1960s and 4 pounds more than the 1990s.
According to Murkowski, the primary goal of Vermont’s deer management strategy is to keep Vermont’s deer herd stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat. 
“Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures Vermont’s deer and the habitats that support them remain healthy and productive,” said Murkowski. “Healthy habitats and stable deer herds are beneficial to the deer themselves, important to Vermont’s deer hunters, and they are beneficial to the health of the land and other wildlife.
“Under our current goal of maintaining a healthy deer herd, a stable harvest is a good indicator that we are meeting our management objectives set out in Vermont’s 10-year Big Game Plan,” said Murkowski. “As long as the deer herd is healthy and responding to our management prescriptions, season totals in any given year may be up or down from the previous year. But the fact that fluctuations are small, rather than major boom and bust cycles, is an indicator that management strategies are working.”
Murkowski says the 14,107 deer brought home by hunters during the 2013 deer seasons resulted in Vermont hunters being able to benefit from over 700,000 pounds of lean, high-protein venison. 
Numbers of deer taken in Vermont
Previous three-year average
         (2010-2012)        2013
Youth 1,720    1,718
Archery 2,941    3,212
Rifle   6,194    6,725
Muzzleloader   2,941    2,452
TOTAL          13,796   14,107

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