Vermont’s youth deer hunting season is a lot more than passing on the skills of pursuing white tail deer. Time spent in the woods with a son or daughter create memories that will last a lifetime. We spend time on a successful youth hunt with Lawrence and his youngest son Jake.
It's only human nature to keep records of outstanding achievements, and hunting is no exception. In 2008 the Vermont Big Game Trophy Club became the official record keeper of the top deer, moose, bear and wild turkeys in the state. Each year the club holds a Trophy Show & Awards Banquet that showcases some of the biggest big game animals ever taken in Vermont. While Vermont is seldom thought of as a top trophy-producing state, a visit to this event will open your eyes to some of the remarkable big game animals that roams the woods and fields of Green Mountain state.
Since prehistoric times, man has had a fascination with antlers. Deer and moose annually shed their antlers in the winter only to grow larger ones in the spring and summer. Every shed antler is unique, and every one holds a story about the animal that produced it and how it was found. Hunting for shed moose antlers in particular has become a popular activity in Vermont, although it can often seem like exersize in futility. Even where moose are abundant, sheds are far and few between. But some shed hunters have begun using dogs to help find these north-woods treasures.
Every November during Vermont’s youth deer hunting season, check stations across the state are filled with smiling kids and proud parents. Deer are reported, stories shared, and photos taken. But at a handful of check stations, a lot more goes on. Since 1963 the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has annually operated special biological check stations to gather the data needed to monitor the health of the deer herd. This information and other data help state biologists determine science-driven management strategies.
Come mid-November, thousands of Vermonter's head out to deer camp. For many it's a home away from home. Every camp is a little different. But they all have their traditions, stories and wonderful characters that make them special places. It can be rite of passage for a young person, a way to reconnect with old friends or the perfect place to have a big family Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever you come to camp for, the door's always open and there's always a place for you in front of the fire. Host Lawrence Pyne visits a few camps in Vermont to get a taste of deer camp culture.
- Deer Camp: Last Light in the Northeast
by John M. Miller, Meg Ostrum (Editor), Howard Frank Mosher
The MIT Press
Cambridge, MA 02142
A deeryard is a wintering habitat, a dense, overhead canopy of softwood trees such as hemlock, cedar, fir and spruce. In addition to providing a source of food, tree branches intercept snow before it reaches the ground and with time melts or dissipates it as water vapor, keeping the snow to a minimum. If the deeryard is on a south-facing slope, it can be a source of heat for the herd. The number of deeryards determines how many deer the landscape can support. We spent some time recently with wildlife biologist John Buck to learn more about deeryards and why they're so important to deer.
According to surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the average age of hunters has increased from 35 in 1980 to 42 in 2001. The best way to get young people interested in hunting is to make sure that they have a positive hunting experience the first time around. The Lake Hortonia Country Store in Hubbardton holds a "Youth Hunting Weekend" during Vermont's annual youth deer season in an effort to foster an interest in preserving Vermont's hunting heritage for kids. It was first held in 1999 and has become a big community event, attracting upwards of 300 kids interested in celebrating our hunting heritage. The event was founded on the idea that hunting is not just about bagging game, but quality time spent with those you hunt with. It also strives to promote the ethical aspects of hunting and stresses the importance of sportsmanship to new hunters. Though the highlight of the weekend is the drawing of lifetime hunting licenses for a few lucky kids, the real reward comes from introducing them to the joys of quality time spent in the woods.
Lake Hortonia Country Store
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