Last chance to enter antlerless deer muzzleloader lottery

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) One month from now, muzzleloader hunters hoping to bag an antlerless deer will find out if they can hit the woods to hunt this winter, but first, they have to apply.

Courtesy: Vt. Fish & Wildlife-John Hall

Starting this year, applications can only be filled out online. Stores that sell hunting permits and process applications say that's causing a major decline in foot traffic.

"So with the online system this year, we have done 10 applications since it's been available. We're not seeing the traffic that we normally would see," said Brian Baird, the general manager of Bibens Ace Hardware.

"Our numbers are way down this year," said Jim Dattilio, who owns Dattilio's Guns & Tackle. "We did a report here and we had 21 license applications."

In years past, hunters have had the option to apply online or fill out a form provided by license agents at stores. Vermont Fish and Wildlife tells us given the option, about 80 percent of applications were filled out online, either by hunters or at the store.

Now, that the application process is only done by computer, 93 percent of hunters are filling them out online on their own. The rest are having agents go online for them.

"In years past, it has been the paper form we would have. They would send us a couple cases and by this point, we'd be pretty much out," Baird said.

But the overall number of hunters applying for the lottery is stagnant. About 12,500 as of Wednesday-- in line with last year's numbers.

Those hunters are competing for 23,000 antlerless permits. But a permit is for a specific area.

Here is how it works:

-Each hunter requests where in Vermont they want to hunt with a muzzleloader.

-If they request a popular area and don't win a permit in the lottery, they could be out of luck.

-If the lottery ends and there are leftover permits, the state will put them up for sale.

The drawing for recipients for the antlerless muzzleloader season will be held Sept. 17. Muzzleloader season is December 7-15.

Click here for more details on the antlerless deer lottery.