Deer Hunting Rule is Finalized

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Vermont deer hunters can now plan for upcoming hunting seasons knowing that most of the hunting regulations have been set. Guidelines for archery, youth, rifle and muzzleloader seasons were established at a June 15 meeting of the Fish and Wildlife Board in Montpelier when they gave Vermont's deer management rule #1502 a third and final vote.

The new rule sets the following conditions:

· Limits a hunter to TWO deer per calendar year;

· Allows both deer to be legal bucks, but only one buck in each season (archery, youth, rifle, or muzzleloader);

· Defines a legal buck as a deer with at least one antler having two or more points;

· Defines a "point" as an antler projection of at least one inch measured from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point regardless of length;

· Allows the taking of TWO antlerless deer in a year under specific conditions;

· Defines "antlerless deer" as deer without antlers or with antlers less than three inches long;

· Allows qualifying young hunters to take one deer of either sex anywhere in the state during youth deer hunting weekend; and

· Bans the baiting and feeding of deer.

FEEDING DEER

No person shall feed white-tailed deer at any time in Vermont except:

1. Under a license or permit issued by Fish & Wildlife for scientific research, mitigation of wildlife damage or nuisance problems, or wildlife population reduction programs;

2. By planting, cultivating or harvesting of crops directly associated with agricultural practices, including planted wildlife food plots;

3. Distribution of food for livestock directly associated with agricultural practices;

4. Cutting of trees or brush.

BAITING DEER

No person shall take any game or wild animal by using bait during any deer hunting season, except that persons taking furbearers may use bait in lawful trapping. "Bait" is defined as any animal, vegetable, fruit or mineral matter placed with the intention of attracting wildlife. Natural and artificial substances that are, or that mimic the natural odors of deer (scents or lures), shall not be bait for the purposes of this rule.

No person shall take deer by using bait. Exempted from this prohibition are:

1. Elevated bird/squirrel feeders providing seed, grain, fruit, worms, or suet for birds or squirrels located within 100 feet of a dwelling devoted to human occupancy;

2. Incidental feeding of wildlife within active livestock operations;

3. Standing crops planted and left standing as food plots for wildlife;

4. Grain or other feed scattered or distributed solely as a result of normal agricultural, gardening, or soil stabilization practices; and

5. Standing, flooded, or manipulated natural vegetation or food/seed deposited by natural vegetation.

HUNTING -- BY THE SEASON

Archery Deer Season

Open season: October 1-23 and December 3-11, 2005

Limit: One legal buck and one antlerless deer in authorized WMUs only

As in the past, a hunter may have up to two archery licenses for use in archery season. This year the archer may take one antlerless deer by bow and arrow in a Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) without an antlerless permit if the WMU is open for antlerless deer hunting. The archer may also take one buck having at least one antler with two or more points by bow and arrow anywhere in the state. Deer taken in archery season may only be tagged with archery license tags.

Youth Deer Weekend
Open season: November 5-6, 2005
Limit: One deer of either sex

A young hunter under 16 years of age who has at least one parent or guardian who is a legal resident of Vermont and who has successfully completed a hunter education course may obtain a free youth hunting tag and take one deer of either sex during this weekend. There are no antler restrictions for this season. The young hunter must have a Vermont hunting license, be accompanied by an unarmed adult over 18 who also has a Vermont hunting license, and have permission to hunt on private land.

November Rifle Deer Season
Open season: November 12 - 27, 2005
Limit: One legal buck

A hunter with a hunting license may take one buck with at least one antler having two or more points. Each point must be at least one inch long. The main antler beam is considered a point regardless of length.

Muzzleloader Deer Season
Open season: December 3 - 11, 2005
Limit: One legal buck and one antlerless deer by permit in authorized WMUs only

A person with one muzzleloader hunting license may take one buck with at least one antler having two or more points by muzzleloading firearm. If the Fish and Wildlife Board has authorized the taking of antlerless deer, and the person has an antlerless deer permit, he or she may take an antlerless deer by muzzleloader.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board will review the antlerless deer hunting rule to determine which WMUs will be open for antlerless deer hunting. Permits are expected to be issued for taking antlerless deer by muzzleloader during the December muzzleloader season.

Deer Management Rule 1502 is posted on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). Click on Law Enforcement and choose "Rules & Proposed Rules" from the drop-down menu.