Fish and wildlife news


Tree stand safety tips for hunters

Tree stands get hunters out of sight and smell of wary deer, but they can also get hunters into trouble. Here are some tips from Vermont Fish & Wildlife to help stay safe and get the most out of your tree stand hunting experience:

• Choose a live, straight tree.

• Buy smart. Only use stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA).

• Inspect your tree stand each time you use it.

• Know the rules. On state lands, it is illegal to place nails or other hardware into trees or to build permanent structures. On private lands, you must have landowner permission to erect a tree stand, cut or remove trees or other plants, or to cut limbs. All stands, including ground blinds, must be marked with the owner's name and address.

• Always wear a full-body safety harness, even for climbing. Most falls occur going up and down the tree and getting in and out of the stand.

• Don't go too high. The higher you go, the smaller the vital zone on a deer becomes, while the likelihood of a serious injury increases.

• Never carry firearms or bows up and down trees. Always use a haul line to raise and lower all gear. Make sure your firearm is unloaded, crossbow cocked but unloaded, and be sure broadheads are transported in a hard case.

• Familiarize yourself with your gear before you go. The morning of opening day is a poor time to put your safety belt on for the first time.

• Be careful with long-term placement. Exposure can damage straps, ropes and attachment cords. Also, the stand's stability can be compromised over time, as the tree grows.

September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month! "Hunter education instructors want you to be safe this coming season," said Nicole Meier, information and education specialist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "Falls from tree stands are a major cause of death and serious injury to deer hunters, but they are preventable by always wearing a full-body harness and staying connected to the tree."

Learn more about Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month here:

Muzzleloader antlerless deer permit winners announced

Deer hunters who applied for a Vermont muzzleloader season antlerless deer permit by the August 26 deadline can now go to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department website ( to see if they will be receiving a permit in the mail.

The department announced the winners on Sept. 22, after conducting a randomized computer drawing.

"Hunters may check our website to find out if they will be receiving a muzzleloader season antlerless permit," said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. "Knowing the answer will help them plan their hunting this fall."

There will be a link to the listing of permit winners on the left side of the Home Page.

Permit winners are listed in two categories: regular lottery winners and landowners.

It is a violation for a landowner to apply for a landowner antlerless permit if they are posting their land against hunting.

A total of 18,950 December muzzleloader season antlerless permits are authorized for use in 16 of Vermont's 21 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) which is estimated to result in 2,700 antlerless deer being taken. The permits will be in postcard format and will be mailed to recipients in November.

"The number of muzzleloader season antlerless deer permits was increased to account for the expected increase in the deer population following the exceptionally mild winter of 2016," said Nick Fortin, deer project leader for the Fish & Wildlife Department. "The permit allocation is intended to allow moderate population growth in most of the state while stabilizing or reducing deer densities in a few areas."

"We expect the statewide deer population to be about 145,000 prior to the start of the 2016 deer seasons," said Fortin.

Hunter success with muzzleloader antlerless permits typically ranges from 10 to 35 percent depending on WMU. WMU-specific success rates are taken into consideration each year when issuing antlerless permits in order to better manage the harvest of antlerless deer.

"Harvesting antlerless deer affords Vermont hunters the chance to secure locally sourced food for their families," Porter noted. "It also helps the department balance the deer population with the available habitat."

Leashed tracking dogs for recovery of game

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is providing the following list of certified leashed tracking dog owners who will help locate deer, bear or moose that have been shot during hunting season but not yet recovered. The leashed tracking dog owners must pass an extensive exam administered by Fish & Wildlife in order to be certified and licensed to provide their services.

This list, which may be updated during hunting seasons, is available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website (

Vermont's two-part archery deer season dates are Oct. 1-28 and Dec. 3-11.


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