With rifle season fast approaching, Forest Service officials on the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) are encouraging the public to use caution and to be visible and mindful of their surroundings in the coming weeks. Saturday, Nov. 13, marks the opening day of the white-tailed deer rifle hunt in Vermont, a lifelong tradition for many Vermonters. Through prescribed fire, timber management, and wildlife monitoring programs, the GMNF works year-round to enhance wildlife habitat, including that for large and small game. Officials want to remind hunters and other forest users that the entire 400,000 plus acre National Forest is open for hunting, the only exceptions are developed trails and recreation sites. As with any recreational opportunity on the GMNF, all applicable state and federal laws and regulations must be followed.
Below are some safety tips for hunters that may be planning to hunt on the GMNF:
1. Clearly identify your target before shooting to prevent accidents or fatalities. Fire only at clearly identified wildlife and know what is beyond your target.
2. Be alert when hunting near developed areas and trails. Other recreationists are in the forest as well.
3. Check weather reports before visiting the forest — dress properly and be prepared for the worst possible conditions.
4. Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will return — be familiar with the area that you are hunting.
5. Wear blaze orange and try to be visible from all directions.
6. Check hunting equipment before and after each outing and maintain it properly. Familiarize yourself with the operation of your firearm before using it in the field.
7. Carry a spare set of dry clothes. Use layering techniques to prevent moisture retention, while maintaining body warmth.
8. Always bring waterproof gear.
9. Have a first aid kit, flashlight, cell phone, food and water in case of an emergency. With the COVID-19 pandemic still present in our local community hunters should be cognizant of other forest users. The forest is open to all other lawful uses including mountain biking and hiking and horseback riding.
Non-hunters who plan to use the National Forest during hunting season should also be cognizant of hunters using the same locations they may be utilizing. The Forest Service recommends wearing blaze orange while hunting seasons are running concurrent with your visit. If recreating with household animals such as a dog, officials suggest that they are visible and remain on a leash.
For additional information on Vermont hunting regulations, please visit: https://vtfishandwildlife.com/.