Sports

Rifle season buck weights also set new mark

ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County’s deer hunters have set another record.
According to the Independent’s calculations, the average weight of bucks weighed in the county during this November’s rifle season was the highest since 2005, when the Department of Fish & Wildlife banned shooting spikehorn bucks during the 16-day season. 
The average weight this year came in at 147.8 pounds, edging the previous 2018 mark of 147.6 pounds. 
The rifle-season buck kill of 641 weighed in Addison County this year already smashed the previous post-2005 record of 596, set in 2019.
The average weights are up despite the fact that this year, for the first time since 2005, wildlife officials allowed hunters to again target smaller spikehorn bucks. Among the deer used in coming up with the average were 23 spikehorns with lower weights. 
But they were offset by 10 deer topping 200 pounds, including the 262-pounder Chris Hanson shot in Shoreham. VF&W’s Deer Project Leader Nick Fortin said Hanson’s deer could be a county record. It also stands as the 10th-largest buck on the state’s all-time semi-official list. 
Another 14 deer landed in the 190-199-pound range, 18 in the 180s, and 38 in the 170s. 
Breaking it down further, the single most populated weight range was between 145 and 149 pounds, where 43 bucks tipped the scales. 
In all, 78 deer landed in the 140s, 62 in the 130s, and 54 in the 150s. 
The county’s average buck weights from rifle season normally come in between 144 and 146 pounds, per Independent numbers over the past two decades. 
Despite the high numbers in 2018 and 2020, average weights in 2017 (141 pounds) and 2018 (about 140) were lower. 
The 2020 average is almost eight pounds higher than 2019’s after this past year’s mild winter.
The weight average does not include the 216 deer reported directly to Fish & Wildlife officials. Fortin said he could provide a buck count, but new software being used this year for COVID-19 safety reasons made it difficult to offer a list of hunters who recorded their deer kills online.
Therefore only deer taken to the county’s seven weigh stations were used to create the average. They are Rack ’N Reel in New Haven, Vermont Field Sports in Middlebury, Green Mountain Trails End in Middlebury, Buxton’s Store in Orwell, and the Lincoln and West Addison general stores. 
Overall, it remains to be seen if 2020 can approach the county’s post-2005 record of 1,345 deer taken in all seasons combined, a mark set in 2018. 
The Independent will collect final bow and muzzleloader numbers after those joint seasons wrap up on Dec. 15. Hunters are reporting seeing plenty of deer. 
CORRECTIONS: Due to a typographical error, the weight of a deer taken by Bonnie Spencer in Brandon and reported to Rack ’N Reel in our Dec. 3 print story was not accurate. She shot a 140-pound, 6-pointer. 
Also, the names of three hunters who reported their bucks to the Lincoln General Store were omitted from our Dec. 3 print story due to a computer glitch. 
They are, listed with town of kill, pounds and points: Kenneth Russin, Huntington, 133-5; Frank Bryan, Lincoln, 101-4; and Richard Antone, Williston, 125-5.

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