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.
By 1896, Vermont's moose had been driven to near extinction by land clearing and hunting by the early settlers, so the Vermont legislature banned moose hunting. Last year, with a herd of almost 4,000 in the state, there were over 200 vehicle collisions with moose. The size of the herd prompted the first moose-hunting lottery in 1993. How does Vermonters handle the delicate balance between the desire to enjoy moose and the human conflicts that can occur? We join Cedric Alexander of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department on a trip to Wheelock Mountain to talk about managing moose and to see if we can get a glimpse of North America's largest mammal.
Shed hunting doesn't get the press of deer or other types of hunting. There is no official season. You don't use a gun or bow. In fact, the only equipment you use are your legs and eyes. Shed hunting refers to the finding of antlers that animals have shed. Animals such as deer and moose shed their antlers in winter so they can grow larger ones in the spring. Moose antlers can grow very fast — as much as an inch a day. When they are fully developed they can weigh as much as sixty pounds. Deer and moose will shed their antlers anytime between November and March. The best time to hunt for sheds is either in early December before there is a lot of snow buildup or in late winter early spring as the snow melts away. Steve Foster has been hunting sheds for 45 years. He says that some of the best ones have been found in November. Though he's not ready to give up on rifle hunting season yet, Steve says hunting sheds has become an obsession with him. He heads out as soon as deer season is over. "There's nothing like it. I just love doing it. I love being outside in the winter. It's a beautiful time of the year." Hunting for sheds is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It requires some of the same skills regular hunting does. You have to look for the signs, such as the rubs on the trees, tracks and beds. You have to be familiar with the type of habitat of your animal. And this is a silent prey. A shed doesn't bolt when you approach it. It will let you walk right by without moving. It requires keen eyes, woodsmanship and a passion for being outdoors. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Steve Foster on a moose shed hunt in winter.
After a hiatus of nearly 90 years, moose hunting was reintroduced in northern New England in the mid to late 1980s. Wildlife biologists in the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont issue moose hunting permits through a lottery system to help stabilize the growth of the moose population. Join host Lawrence Pyne as his name is finally drawn in New Hampshire for the 2005 moose season. When it comes to hunting big game in New England, nothing compares to the thrill of pursuing moose, North America's largest deer.
Vermont’s Moose population was virtually extirpated by the late 1800’s. By 1980 an estimated 200 moose had made their way back into the mountains of the Northeast Kingdom and the numbers have been on the rise ever since. The fact that moose can be found in every Vermont county is great news but as the population increases so does some of the negative impacts. Knowing the number of moose in the state is critical to properly manage the population. To accomplish an accurate count, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is going high tech using infrared technology from the sky.