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Vt. wildlife officials take comments on deer hunting rules

(WCAX)
Published: Mar. 28, 2019 at 12:06 AM EDT
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Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials held a public hearing Wednesday at Montpelier High School to go over potential regulations that could dramatically change the state's deer hunting laws.

The state says the ultimate goal is to keep existing hunters happy, attract new hunters and provide more hunting opportunities.

Hunters came out to learn more about the push for an annual limit of antlered bucks from two to one. The hope is that it will increase the number of older, larger-antlered bucks, which tend to be more desirable.

"Because we still have fairly high hunting pressure in Vermont, we need some sort of protection in order to get deer to those older ages," said Nick Fortin, a deer biologist with Vermont Fish and Wildlife.

Lifelong hunter Larry Martin agrees, especially when it comes to making sure the deer population is healthy for future generations.

"We want to make sure there is plenty of deer for them," Martin said.

Martin says putting a one-limit cap on bucks does have an impact for those who hit the woods during different hunting seasons.

"If you harvest a buck during archery, you're all done," he said.

For many like Martin, bagging a buck is the ultimate prize. However, the state hopes limiting it to one will shift the focus from hunting bucks to does. It's an attempt to reduce the deer population without antlers.

"There are definitely places in Vermont where we have too many deer," said Fortin.

Open land areas like Chittenden County could see more restrictions.

"There are also areas where we don't have that problem," said Fortin, referencing areas in the mountains where tougher terrain and harsher winters typically mean fewer deer and hunters. "We want to fine-tune it a little bit and this gives us the tools to do that."

The state needs to vote on the new regulations two more times. If it passes, the regulations would be put in place next year.

Public hearings will be held across the state at the end of March and the beginning of April.