Deer Brought To Biological Check Stations Appear Healthy

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Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologists examined 597 hunter-killed deer at 17 biological check stations on opening weekend of the 2004 rifle deer season, November 13 and 14.

"Measurements of body weight and antler development were made to assess the health of the herd," said John Buck, the biologist who chairs Vermont's deer management team. "Deer were also aged by tooth wear and replacement to put the weight and antler data into perspective. Initial assessments of the data indicate the deer are in good health."

Despite average harvests during the archery and youth seasons, early rifle season reports point to a lower than average deer harvest this year.

Many hunters who came to the reporting stations reported dry, cold conditions, which made the woods noisy and hunting difficult.

An apparent decline in hunter numbers also concerns Fish & Wildlife officials.

Many Vermont State Game wardens reported seeing fewer hunters out on opening weekend this year, said Colonel Robert Rooks, Vermonts chief game warden. We are hoping hunting conditions will improve and more hunters will get out there in the days ahead to enjoy the rest of the season.

Vermonts rifle deer season ends on November 28.