Vt. bow hunters take aim as deer season opens - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. bow hunters take aim as deer season opens

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You can call Paul Jerome an avid hunter.

"White-tail rifle, muzzleload-- I like venison you might say. It's the ultimate free-range organic meat," Jerome said.

And when it comes to hunting, October's bow season is one of his favorites.

"The adrenaline you get from it when they're 10, 15, 20 yards away. It's not like a rifle when they can be way out there and you can set it on a branch or a rest and take your 200-yard shot. You need to be within 10, 15, 20, 30 yards of them. You can hear them breathe at that point," Jerome said. "It's quite exciting."

The Middlesex mechanic will spend dozens of hours in the woods this fall stalking and tracking white-tailed deer.

While not nearly as popular as the November rifle season, the number of bow hunters has remained fairly steady and even grown over the last several years. That compares to a national downtrend in hunting.

"Today's hunter is one who is actually hunting much more than just the rifle season. It used to be when I was a kid growing up in Vermont in the 1960s and 70s; deer hunting in Vermont meant grabbing a rifle, hunting the 16-day November buck season. Today it's really different. The hunter is spending as much time hunting with a muzzleloader or a bow, many of them," said Mark Scott of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

Over at R & L Archery in Barre, hunters are coming in to tune up their bows for the season. The shop-- and official weigh station-- has seen an unusually busy start to the season, with 28 deer brought in in just the first three days.

"I think there's far more participation this year. The sightings of deer around the state for the summer and early fall have been high. There's a lot of anticipation and excitement and the guys turned up for it," said Rick Sanborn of R & L Archery.

Although Paul Jerome took up hunting when he was young, he didn't start bow hunting until about 16 years ago. His advice to others-- put in the time.

"Better get a good bow and start shooting it and get good with it before you go out, because it's really hard," Jerome said. "There's a lot of pressure when they're close and the adrenaline's raging. It's really hard to keep it all under control and get it done."

High expectations at the start of a new hunting season.

State wildlife officials say a combination of mild winters and plenty of food mean a healthy population of white-tailed deer. The bow season runs until Oct. 27 and then for another week in early December, following rifle season.

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