It looks like 2012 will be a very good year to be a Vermont deer hunter.

“Overall, things have been aligning to benefit our deer, and hunters are really going to see the benefits of managing for deer herd health after a mild winter and good spring conditions,” says Adam Murkowski, Deer Project Leader for Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. “Presently there are approximately 125,000 deer throughout the state with population levels and harvest rates remaining stable.”

Last winter helped deer health and deer numbers considerably.

“The winter of 2011-2012 was the mildest on record for the 43 years such records have been kept … The foraging capacity of Vermont’s deer herd increased and reduced the browsing pressure on deer wintering areas. That was coupled with an early spring green up, and helped by plenty of precipitation.”

All the deer forage that grew this spring and summer should make for deer with good-sized bodies.

“During the 2011 deer hunting season, 124 bucks were registered that on the hoof would have topped the scales at 250 pounds or better. Due to well interspersed forests throughout Vermont these large bodied deer come from every corner of the state,” Murkowski said.

Rutting activity in Vermont picks up in early November and peaks around mid-November, right during the November buck-only rifle season. “However, we know from road killed fetuses that some rutting activity also occurs during the first week of December and coincides with the late muzzleloader season,” Murkowski said.

The Northeastern Regional Report
_A very mild winter (which followed a generally mild winter in 2010-2011) and average-or-better amounts of spring and summer rain this year have the Northeast region looking good this fall. States like Vermont and Maine are expecting improved harvests, as the easy winters have allowed deer herds to rebound. Except for a small pocket of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Hampshire County, West Virginia, and a limited outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in west-central New Jersey, deer here have no real health issues.

While there are still many good-size deer in the Northeast, trophy antler production has eased away from here and moved into the Midwest region. The Boone and Crockett Club’s “Trophy Whitetail Production, 2005 to 2010,” for example, doesn’t list a single Northeastern state in the top 10. Pennsylvania, at number 20 (with 26 entries), is the highest-ranked state from this region.

That said, Northern states still grow big-bodied deer. “During the 2011 season, we had 124 bucks registered that, on the hoof, would have tipped the scales at more than 250 pounds,” says Vermont deer biologist Adam Murkowski._

Top Trophy Zones
NY: Monroe, Wayne, and Suffolk counties. Comprising the eastern two-thirds of Long Island, Suffolk County produces approximately half the state’s Pope and Young records–including a 2006 buck that netted 196 2⁄8 non-typical.
NJ: Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Salem counties.
PA: Alleghany, Chester, Washington, and Beaver counties.
WV: McDowell and Wyoming counties.