Rifle season in VT begins Saturday

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) It's sixteen days that many Vermonters look forward to each year. Rifle season starts Saturday.

Stu McGowan is excited. “I try to stay out for the entire time until I get a deer,” he said.

We met McGowan at Dattilio’s Guns and Tackle in South Burlington.

“I get ammo. I get targets,” said McGowan.

The Burlington resident was one of many hunters preparing to head outside Saturday.

“Get up as early as I can and quietly get to a spot and sit there for as long as I can,” said Ernest Larrabee of Shelburne.

Larrabee has been hunting for 35 years.

"It's mostly about getting out and exploring the woods,” said Larrabee.

"Sixteen days that Vermonters wait for all the rest of the year," said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. "When hunters can take a legal buck, that's a buck with two or more points on one side at least."

WCAX asked the department about the health of the deer population.

"A hard winter can really knock the population back. An easy winter, and the population grows. That's what we've seen in the last few winters. Very easy winters, and growth in the population,” said Porter.

“Where I go in Montgomery, there might be a little bit of snow, and it's going to be cold, so that's kind of exciting,” said McGowan.

Porter reminds hunters to be careful using tree stands. He also encourages people to wear orange, and to take precaution with firearms.

"As long as it doesn't have posters up and it's not closed to hunting, you can hunt there,” said Porter.

The season goes until November 26th.

For many, it's tradition with family and friends that makes those few days so special.

“I hunt with my son. He started when he was 6. He's now 28," said McGowan. "I have never missed an opening day, and I never intend to."