Deer Harvest Increases in 2002

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Hunters took more deer in Vermont’s 2002 deer hunting seasons than they did the year before, based on the near-final results released on January 29 by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

“Vermont hunters harvested more deer last fall than they did in 2001,” said John Buck, who chairs Vermont’s deer management team.

The tally of deer reports being mailed to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department by agents throughout the state reveals the following season totals: archery 3,799; youth weekend 1,434; rifle 8,752; and muzzleloader 2,761. The total for all deer seasons was 16,746. These numbers will change some with reports still coming in and as the information for each deer report is entered into a computer database and re-tabulated.

All of the season totals were higher than in 2001 except for the muzzleloader season. The number of antlerless deer permits issued for the muzzleloader season was reduced by 50 percent in 2002, compared to the year before.

The total harvest of bucks with three-inch or longer antlers for all seasons is estimated to be 10,798 animals. That is eight percent below the long-term harvest objective of 11,650. With the exception of 2001, the buck harvest has been within 10 percent of the objective every year since 1992.

“The 2002 November season buck harvest was almost 18 percent higher than the 7,437 of the year before,” said Buck. “Excellent hunting conditions in the form of regular snow cover and cool temperatures, better deer survival from a mild winter in 2001-2002, and a 25 percent reduction of antlerless deer permits in 2001 all combined to help increase the buck harvest in 2002.”

The health of Vermont’s deer herd continues to be very good based on indicators monitored by wildlife biologists at biological check stations conducted during opening weekend of the November season.

“Yearling bucks showed good antler beam development and excellent body weights,” said Buck. “Additionally, the amount of body fat found in all ages of bucks examined at biological check stations was very good, indicating they were able to obtain plenty of food during the fall.”

Buck says a final report on Vermont’s 2002 deer hunting seasons will be available later this winter. A copy of the report will be posted on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website at (vtfishandwildlife.com) sometime in March. He also reminds hunters to plan on attending one of the public deer forums that will be held in March. Dates and locations will be announced later.