Vt. hunters ready for rifle season - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. hunters ready for rifle season

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BARRE, Vt. -

At R & L Archery it's the biggest day of the year.

"It's the early Christmas," owner Rick Sanborn said.

But the greeting isn't happy holidays, it's happy hunting, as Vermonters gear up for deer season. Rifle hunting for white-tailed deer starts Saturday and people in the Barre store are getting giddy for the weekend.

"Optimism is really high this year. We had a good bow season, did right around 100 deer. Youth hunt we did around 50, which is on the top end of what we've ever reported," Sanborn said. "People have been seeing deer all year, a lot of excitement."

A lot of excitement because state biologists says there is a ton of deer; more than 125,000 of them after this year's mild winter.

And It's not just hunters getting ready for the start of the season. For the state's 32 full-time game wardens this is their busiest weekend.

"It's the heaviest volume day or weekend of hunting pressure, so with that comes conflict. Sometimes it's with the landowners, sometimes it's the conduct of the hunters themselves," said Col. David LeCours, Vermont's chief warden.

LeCours says he'll be on patrol himself Saturday, wishing he had more staff to help cover the state.

"Especially on this first weekend I never feel it's anywhere near enough," LeCours said. "And obviously we rely on the public to be our eyes and ears and we will respond as complaints come in."

One that comes in often-- hunters on posted land. In the past 30 years, the amount of posted land has doubled in the state to more than 230,000 acres. The wardens say communication with landowners is key: a handshake, a conversation and a smile will usually get a hunter onto posted land. Those same things are also great at getting a hunter to buy a pie, that is, only after they go into the gun shop.

"Let them get their bullets, it's rude to interrupt a man on his way to his ammunition," laughed Anne Kunkle of the Christian Alliance Church.

On the steps of the store, the ladies of the Christian Alliance Church use the pre-hunt hustle to raise money to send kids to camp by sending hunters with pies to theirs.

"You need anything for deer camp? You need anything on the way?" Kunkle asked.

"We're gonna get two brownies," a hunter answered.

Brownies today-- hopefully a buck tomorrow.

This year's deer rifle season runs Nov. 10-25.

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