Business & Economy

Vermont tradition in decline: Hunting falls victim to demographic shifts

Heather Furman pauses to listen as she hunts for deer in Jericho late last month. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Matt Lacey, a bit tongue-in-cheek, referred to himself recently as “just some tree-hugging liberal from central Ohio.”

That was until last year, when the 23-year-old moved to the Green Mountain State, enrolled in Vermont Law School and began learning how to hunt.

He started with squirrels in Hinesburg, then hares in East Charleston, but came home empty handed each trip. It wasn’t until January that he bagged his first game: a couple of cottontail rabbits near Vergennes, which he brought back to his Burlington apartment to dress on his porch, watching YouTube tutorials in the freezing weather.

But Lacey’s experience bucks the broader trend in Vermont. 

Hunting license sales between 2016 and 2018 were down in every county, state data shows. Officials believe fewer and fewer younger people want to hunt. Demographic shifts — like increased urbanization, changing attitudes on killing animals and migration away from rural areas — are behind much of the decline, said Chris Saunders, project coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

And this cultural change in a state steeped in outdoor tradition could have dire impacts.

“It’s a financial burden on the department, it’s a threat to conservation in the state and it’s also a threat to management in the state,” Saunders said. 

“We’re not there yet, but if this trend continues, we may be,” he said.

Demographic trends match hunting declines

Outside the Barre Fish and Game Club in late October, Gov. Phil Scott and Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter spoke about the status of hunting and urged people to keep the sport alive.

“Take your son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin or mentee, and learn what the tradition is all about,” Scott told attendees.

They were doing so because in Vermont counties sales for hunting and combination licenses (which cover hunting and fishing) fell by an average of 7.5% between 2016 and 2018, according to state data.

The largest declines came in Bennington and Windham counties, at 10% each. Chittenden, Washington and Windsor counties each saw a 9% drop. Essex, Franklin and Grand Isle counties remained the most stable, each declining by 5%.

Those figures don’t include lifetime, permanent or youth licenses.

Kyle Villeneuve, left, and Derek Villeneuve load a 165-lb. buck Derek took in Essex onto the scales at the big game reporting station at the Jericho General Store in November. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The trend can be traced back as far as 1987, according to state data. More than 90,000 licenses were sold that year to people aged 18 to 64. Fewer than 50,000 were sold in 2017.

“We expect this trend to kind of continue,” Saunders, the fish and wildlife coordinator, said.

Changes in Vermont’s hunter population reflect those in its general population, he said, particularly increased urbanization and rural flight.

“Hunting is a rural pastime, and when you have demographic issues like we do in Vermont, it’s no surprise that hunting participation, hunting numbers are declining,” he said.

The state’s aging population is a factor, too.

“As the baby boomers age, license sales will continue to decline no matter how much effort we put into recruitment,” noted a 2017 budget report from the department.

And those older hunters aging out of the license pool aren’t being replaced with younger ones.

Saunders said state officials believe fewer young people are hunting. License sale numbers aren’t an accurate measure for that age group because lifetime license sales muddy the data. But one way to examine declining interest among young people is through participation in the state’s youth deer-hunting weekends.

Almost 6,790 people attended the weekends in 2015. That figure has declined every year since, and so far in 2019, about 5,470 people have attended the weekend trips.

With the help of Dusty Morits, left, Randy Morits of Hinesburg loads a 205-lb. bear he shot in Richmond onto the scales at the big game reporting station at the Jericho General Store in November. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The impacts of declining sales are clear for Saunders. Hunting licenses fund the majority of the department’s conservation efforts for both game and non-game species. The sale figures are used to obtain federal funding, too. Further drops in licensees would pose a serious financial, administrative and bureaucratic threat, Saunders said. 

“To remain financially stable longterm, the department will need to address its funding crisis,” said the 2017 budget report.

‘An extended mourning process’

Stan Pekala has belonged to the Caledonia Forest and Stream Club since 1974. He’s seen the high-level trends first hand.

Out in the field in deer season, he’d travel a backroad and spot half a dozen pickup trucks parked by hunters in the woods.

“Now, you might see one,” the Danville resident said. “You don’t hear the shots you used to hear.” 

Most leaders in his club are at least 60 years old. Young people aren’t enthusiastic about joining. And many of those who do join only seem interested in shooting at the range. Tracking game outdoors? Not so much.

“There doesn’t seem to be any real reverence toward hunting as a pastime,” Pekala said.

He believes some of that shift in the group — from a hunting organization to “basically a shooting club” — is rooted in a growing interest in self-defense.

Stan Pekala, a vice president of the Caledonia Forest and Stream club, stands in front of a collection of trophy antlers and photos from hunting trips inside his Danville home. Photo by Justin Trombly/VTDigger

“But another thing that’s affecting that is big business, corporations, selling all kinds of stuff that hunters themselves don’t need,” he said. “Everything’s become hyper-commercialized.” 

Much of the waning interest in hunting seems tied to greater urbanization, he said.

“It’s creeping up from the south and from the west,” he said. “It’s discouraging.”

And more and more posted signs have limited the number of places people can hunt, a trend noted by Seven Days last year. Pekala recalled seeing fields grow to nothing, or grow into housing developments. It’s easier and more affordable, he said, to hunt outside Vermont.

For him, the sum of it all has been “an extended mourning process.”

“It’s the old-man syndrome,” he said. “I’m 74. That’s part of what we do. We mourn the changing of things we really love. And I’ve just gradually seen it coming. And it’s bothered me.”

Several years ago, he said, he drove a friend visiting from Massachusetts out to a hayfield by Walden with a beautiful foliage view.

He turned and asked his friend what he thought.

“There’s a lot of empty building lots out there,” the friend replied.

Cultural losses creeping in

Quimby Country sits in the unincorporated town of Averill, about a mile south of the Canadian border in Essex County. 

It bills itself as the oldest sporting camp in Vermont, and in many ways it acts as a microcosm — a “barometer or yardstick” for the state’s trends, said managing partner Gene Devlin.

Devlin, who holds a majority share of the resort with his wife, Lilly, said hunters no longer make up a major part of their customer base.

“People recreate differently,” he said. “Whereas fishing and hunting used to bring people out into the woods, now you have ATVs and you have mountain bikes that attract people.”

Put another way: “You’d be surprised to see a fishing rod in a canoe.”

Gene Devlin and his wife, Lilly, manage Quimby Country. Supplied photo

Through his work, Devlin has a unique position to speak to the social ramifications a decline in hunting can bring.

“The cultural value is community and shared time with one another,” he said. “When the hunters come back from a day in the woods, and they come into the lodge, and they reminisce on their day — that whole experience, being in the Vermont woods with presumably one of your best friends or a close family member, it’s exhilarating.”

People find a lot of artificial entertainment these days, he said. 

“Hunting, whether it’s entertainment or not, is a real experience, it’s a humbling experience and it kind of helps you understand the cycle of life.”

Could ‘adult-onset hunters’ be a solution?

Pekala isn’t sure it’d be worthwhile to try to stem declining interest in hunting.

“Looking ahead and looking behind, it’s hard for me to see how you can prop up a cultural attitude with the incredible flow of information, diversification taking place now,” he said.

Matt Breton, board member of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers’ New England chapter and president of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Conservation Group, is more optimistic.

“While license sales are declining, and there’s sort of a trend toward doom and gloom over that, [hunting] is still pretty popular,” the Charleston resident said. “I think there’s a lot of potential for those trends to change.”

He described hosting a hunting-centric story night in the Burlington area recently that drew 60 attendees. People still come to Vermont to connect with the land, he said, and hunting, fishing and trapping are ways to do that.

And when looking at how many Vermonters hunt relative to other states, he thinks there’s plenty of room for hope.

The most recent state-level data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department shows that in 2011, only 6% of the country’s population hunted. Vermont came in with 14%, a figure outpaced by only seven states.

Matt Breton is president of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Conservation group. Supplied photo

Both Breton and Pekala mentioned one avenue that could slow the decline: Targeting people in their 20s and 30s who didn’t grow up hunting but are interested in pursuing it, particularly to find sustainable, locally sourced food.

In the hunting blogosphere, the trend is often called “adult-onset hunting,” and some states in recent years have begun focusing their efforts toward it. 

Pioneering programs have cropped up in Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, notes one website dedicated to teaching adults how to hunt their own food.

Illinois, Wisconsin and South Dakota all explicitly brand their initiatives around local, sustainable food and as ways to know where it comes from.

When Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources launched its program in 2014, a reporter with the St. Paul Pioneer Press interviewed participants who likened hunted game to “co-op meat.”

Vermont has the “strongest producers and consumers of local food” in the country, according to one national index

“Hunting and fishing provides Vermonters with free-range, local, sustainable, and affordable food sources,” noted a 2018 state budget report. “Vermont is a leader in the ‘Farm to Table’ and ‘Field to Table’ movement, and this mindset is a primary motivation for first-time hunters, especially those who are not from hunting backgrounds.”

Within the last several years, the report said, gathering meat had become the top reason Vermonters hunt, surpassing getting outdoors and enjoying the challenge.

So people like Breton believe the state’s established locavore movement makes it an ideal candidate for attracting rookie adult hunters.

Like Lacey, the 23-year-old law student.

“Here in Vermont, the food side of things is a really appealing way to try to increase hunter recruitment,” he said. “One of the most fulfilling parts of this for me is, it’s made me think more critically about my other consumer decisions.”

He believes the state could boost its hunter base by appealing to younger people like himself, who want the benefit of knowing where their food comes from — and an ethical justification for taking the life of an animal. 

Contributing to conservation and management efforts, directly and indirectly, is another appeal for Lacey.

As an undergrad in Virginia interested in conservation policy, he noticed many of his peers with the strongest understanding of wildlife were hunters. He sought that perspective too. 

One thing that’s kept him engaged has been mentorship — a key aspect of states’ programs.

He met Breton at a meeting a few months after moving to Vermont last year, and that fall the two went hare hunting. This spring, Lacey attended a turkey-hunting workshop hosted by the Northwoods Stewardship Center, a three-day event that featured a mentored hunt.

Casey Morits of West Bolton examines the rack of a 165-lb. buck taken by Derek Villeneuve in Essex at the big game reporting station at the Jericho General Store in November. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

“The mentorship side of things has been really important for me, and I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “The hunters that I’ve met have such a deep respect for the resource and really think about things from an ethical standpoint — that I can really appreciate as someone who doesn’t come from a hunting background.”

Without those guides, he doesn’t know whether he’d have stuck with the sport.

Earlier this year, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department proposed a slate of changes to its deer-hunting rules. One was creating a novice season, which would “allow new adult hunters to hunt during youth season for one year” and is expected to attract 200 to 300 new hunters each year, according to the department

Those novice hunters will be required to have a mentor.

“Which I think is awesome,” Lacey said. “To give them a little more of an edge, maybe increase their likelihood for success. And that might help sustain them, keep them interested.”

With Vermont hunters, that might be easier. They’re hunting more, and buying licenses more frequently, than other states, said Saunders.

“They’re lifestyle hunters,” he said. “It’s about a lifestyle. It’s more than just something they do.”

Correction: This article originally misidentified Averill as a gore, but it is in fact an unincorporated town. The story has been updated.

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Laura Stone

It’s the fallout of the culture that has been created in our schools, the media, influencers in Hollywood. Looks to me that more is wrong than right today.
If you’ve ever seen dead deer in the woods that starved to death you’d understand why there is an importance in hunting and managing the wildlife.
Our youth are being taught to fear guns..
Much of what we read here daily is the Fallout of poor choices and bad leadership, management.
Everything has been so over politicized that people cannot even make sound thoughtful decisions anymore based on facts and numbers because someone will have hurt feelings-that hold more value than they should.
As recently as the mid 80s you would see every teenage boys trucks in the school parking lots w 3 rifles in the back window because they were all going hunting straight after school. Schools had the day off for the opening days. We had community game suppers
Hunters stock the local food pantries w wild game, it’s some of healthiest meat there is.

william Farr

…Even though I rarely hunt anymore, I firmly believe in it. I have 90 acres here in the central highlands of VT & I have always allowed hunting. I do however like to know who is hunting my property. Contrary to the declining numbers of hunters across VT in this story, this past rifle season I witnessed record numbers of hunters on my property & the vast majority of them I did NOT know. In other words, they did NOT first make contact with me seeking permission to hunt the property. I did not approach any of them through the season & many of them returned several times during rifle season and all had VT license plates on their vehicles.
The moral of the story here is ask permission first & don’t assume it is OK to hunt on private property when no ” No Hunting ” signs are present. It is all about being respectful & being aware that it is a ” privilege ” to hunt, NOT a individuals right…
Bill on the Hill… :~)

Casey Jennings

I think this is part of a larger trend. Many outdoor activities are on a decline. Camping, backpacking, fishing, hunting, bird watching, and others. I’ve seen various studies on the subject (this one for example: https://outdoorindustry.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-Outdoor-Recreation-Participation-Report_FINAL.pdf ) and it seems to boil down to several reasons but topping the list seems to be spending time on electronic devices and also simply not having time. The activities that seem to be seeing less decline or are growing are activities such as day hiking, mountain biking, etc., which seem to be easier to fit in a tight schedule and often would mean less time away from electronics. I think it’s a worrying trend in terms of support for conservation and public lands in general and in terms of fitness (childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic).

Thom Simmons

“Adult-Onset” is a key element towards restoring the hunting tradition. Not just those in their 20s and 30s…there are plenty of us in our 40s, 50s, and 60s who would love to hunt, but haven’t done so yet. In addition to the learning curve and ‘learning anxiety,’ anyone middle-aged looking to get involved is immediately put off by huntung ‘courses’ advetised at 4 figures and the realization that one can buy ten times as much grocery store meat for the money it takes to take down a single deer in a season. Give newbies – including middle-agers – an incentive to learn and actually get hooked without soaking them up front with costs…and you might find a reversal in the downward trend of licenses.

Gordon W Miller

Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Vermont’s demographic challenges will not only effect hunting but many other aspects of the state’s finances . The Legislature should be focused on these challenges as a top priority rather then enhancing social programs, as much as they would be helpful.

Shane Milford

One thing they never mentioned is the quality of the deer in VT vs other states. Every person I hunt with or used to hunt with go to Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky or Iowa.
If you are going to take a week off work and spend the money you go where the highest percentage of taking a quality older deer. Outdoor Life and Field and Stream rank VT as one of lowest states in country for harvesting mature deer, and certainly worse than ME and NH.
VT has a very long road to becoming a destination state for hunting.

Roger sweatt

Who wants to go huntong where the wardens stake put fake deer so they can make a criminal pit of you.

James Taylor

20 years ago I could walk out my back door and go in any direction to hunt the woods. Today, I’m fenced in by posted or developed lands and need to impact the carbon footprint for that elusive whitetail.

Dale Newton

Ticks. Most of the deer hunters that I know in my area have quit for one reason. Ticks.

Jude Hazelton

So less people are inclined to kill other beings….I tend to see this mind set as a positive in human evolution.

Laurel Stanley

I support hunting for food. I also have woods I am in every day and I want to know who else is there. Rarely am I asked for permisssion to hunt. I have had men lie to me when I met them in the woods and have had ATV’s tear up my trails. Two issues give a bad look towards hunters. Trapping and game contests. If we want people in the woods and using recreation trails we need to have trapping regs that keep us and our dogs safe. Not the way it is now. Also the contests are disgusting and put really negative spins on the sport. Wanton waste is not sustainable hunting. And it is not traditional VT either. It needs to end.

Craig H Newton

Maybe the coyotes are filing the void??

Carl L Edwards

“If it were easy, everyone would do it.” Hunting requires you to get of your comfort zone. The days when ,as a kid, the first day of the season and continuing for 16 days, was the biggest yearly event going, is no longer. It consumed us, especially those of us in small towns.Everyone knew who the real good hunters were! The generational hunting families are fewer. I feel that was the key to passing on this tradition. Start ups are much harder to establish this “passion”. Knowing this, I applaud the efforts to find ways to increase or at least a leveling off of hunters ,so we can sustain this Vermont tradition.

Brenna Galdenzi

Vermont Fish & Wildlife is never going to be successful at recruiting the new generation to hunt as long as they endorse despicable forms of killing, such as leghold trapping, wanton waste, killing contests, and the hounding of coyotes and bears by packs of radio-collared hounds. So many people are turned off to hunting in general because they associate it with “slob hunters” who kill every coyote they see or run their radio-collared hounds on a lone bear or coyote for miles. The decline in interest will only grow over time as the public sees the lack of ethics and respect shown towards wildlife. Vermont will also see more posted land due to littering, lack of respect for landowners etc. If hunters want to encourage youth hunters, then have the courage to speak out against unethical practices. Elevate the image of hunting. It’s on you.

Re: the alleged health aspects of eating wild game; studies show that lead fragments left in the meat present serious health risks, esp to kids.

Mike DeSanto

Mr. Farr has it right. We have a property in the northwest that is posted. But if we know you, you can hunt. Mysteriously the posted, updated,and numerous signs disappear every year. I suspect those “few bad apples” in the barrel of hunters seem to prefer to hunt illegally, and trespass on private property. Perhaps that is why the license sales are plummeting. And the other comment about three rifles on the truck gun rack being missed….good riddance says Parkland, Newtown and Columbine. That is not politicized fake news that is fact. Fake news is romanticizing trapping, and deer and bear baiting. Bless the wardens and I wish there were more of them.

Gail E. Graham

My Dad and my grandfather were hunters. I still support it, but I have had to (regrettably) post my property due to the disrespectful type hunters previously mentioned. I do encourage hunting on my property, but with permission. One of the primary reasons I (legally) post my property is my concerns about safety. I want to know who is hunting on my property so that I am able to manage the activity. It has significantly helped the situation that had become totally out of control 10 years ago.

Jim White

“Hunting licenses fund the majority of the department’s conservation efforts for both game and non-game species.” That is simply a false statement. License fees represent about one third of the Department’s budget, and a chunk of that goes to programs to attract and support hunters, not to conservation. That leaves two thirds of the budget that has now become the foundation for conservation. Half of that one third is federal and the other half is from the VT general fund (from Vermont taxes), the vast majority of which is contributed by non-hunters. The DFW does face a funding crisis but it has dragged its heels at finding a real solution because diversifying sources of funding means that non-hunters will want to have some influence on DFW activities and policies, and the DFW wants to keep that control in the hands of the hunting community. If conservation is really the topic here, hunters might push over a bit and work with non-hunters to find long term strategies that serve wildlife

Glenda Bisex

“So less people are inclined to kill other beings….I tend to see this mind set as a positive in human evolution.” I agree. But consider the massive killings that are carried out daily by industrial animal farms, and the miserable, confined lives these animals have been forced to lead. When we truly respect the lives of other beings, we will not participate in this system. I would rather eat meat from a deer that had lived free.

DanDeCoteau

Vermont used to be a wonderful place to live. We used to have legislators who were actually born and raised in Vermont. The urban migration to this state has changed most every tradition we once had. I started hunting with my father and brother at 8 years old. I learned firearms safety which was handed down through the generations. My father bought me my first rifle at 13 years old. Now houses have replaced open fields and wooded lots with people fed up with the urban frenzy. I’m convinced that the new resident of Vermont believes that meat just shows up in the grocery store magically. It is a good thing to know how to survive without a Shaw’s market. In a national emergency the cities will deteriorate long before the rural areas. No one knows what the future holds for any or all of us. When you rely on others for your total existence, you are at the mercy of your circumstance. In a future national catastrophe who would you want with you, a hunter or an urban transplant?

Tim Patterson

Speaking as a hunter – as long as VT Fish & Wildlife actively supports ecologically unsound and cruel bloodsport hunting, such as no closed season or bag limits for shooting coyotes with assault rifles, it will be hard to attract new hunters to the tradition.

Diane Foulds

No mention here of the severe decline in wildlife populations that we’re experiencing, even in songbirds and insects. Have we forgotten? We’re in the middle of the sixth extinction, the result of our oil addiction and land hunger, which leads to habitat loss. Human encroachment. You see it in all those fences and house lots and cleared spaces that make hunting so difficult. We can look elsewhere to make up for lost funding, but where will we get wildlife when it’s all gone extinct?

John Freitag

We cannot live harmlessly or strictly
at our own expense
we depend on other creatures
and survive by their deaths.
To live, we must daily break the body
and shed the blood of Creation.
When we do this knowingly, lovingly,
skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament.
When we do it ignorantly, greedily,
clumsily, destructively, it is a
desecration.
In such desecration, we condemn
ourselves to spiritual and moral
loneliness, and others to want.
— Wendell Berry

Rodney Chase

A lot of my fellow hunters are hunting other states because most of Vermont is posted . Most of the lands that are posted are in a current use program . That program gives large tax breaks to land owners for land and forestry management . Game management should also be a part of the program . A part of the current use program should be that you can’t post your land .I guess it’s good that hunting interest has declined because the land available to hunt on has also drastically declined .

Mark Harner

Until the younger generation understands the consequences of habitat loss resulting from agriculture, it may never appreciate that wild fish and game provide our least destructive foods, provided we manage them in a sustainable manner. Hunters cite a number of arguably valid reasons in defending their activities, but one rarely hears them make the point that wild game and fish provide our only truly sustainable foods. Despite false claims of a “cruelty-free” meal by the least observant or most biased vegan advocacy groups, no meaningful ecosystem remains on any land converted to agricultural purpose. Only hunting can provide both food and preserve habitat for the continued existence of wildlife.

Of course, this is not to suggest that wild fish and game can sustain everyone. Clearly there is not enough land for that, but this does not alter the fact that it remains our best food option and should therefore be fully utilized before resorting to more destructive means.

Ryan O'Malley

A couple of observations:
1. Vermont has a great hunting tradition that can be traced to it’s very beginning. The act of hunting is unbelievably old and in the long run current trends have nothing to do with it. From a 20,000 foot view the problem is that people have become separated from the land and in turn food. Convenience and expectations of instant gratification are most likely the biggest drivers .
2. The current perceived “problem” is nothing more than a funding issue. What other group of people are expected to pay for their own law enforcement, as well as all of the other public services associated with hunting. Heck sportsman foot the bill for state land purchases. Hunting in Vermont is a constitutional right and the legislature, long before now, should have been responsible enough with it’s residents money to fund these public services much differently.
I don’t think this issue is either the result of “unlimited assault rifle coyote kills”, or changing ideology.

John Stapleton

“So less people are inclined to kill other beings”

Sad and so naive that anyone would think that’s all it is about.

Norma Norland

Our F&W Commission tends to oppose any bill that even suggests a curtailment of hunting. They are failing to look to the future.

Our news is filled with stories about the decline of species, threats of extinction, and habitat loss and fragmentation. What is there to draw future hunters? What does hunting look like to the uninitiated? How can new hunters be recruited in a state that supports leghold trapping, wanton waste, killing contests (Ferrisburg had a killing contest just last week with rabbit and squirrels as targets), and allows hunting of coyotes and bears with packs of radio-collared hounds? A place where coyotes can legally be strung up on poles, as happened this past July? A place where bear hounds can attack a couple and their dog, as happened in Ripton in October? One may wonder: is this what hunters do?

Dave Furman

The demographic shift as boomers age that’s causing decline in licenses is often falsely equated to hunting not being “relevant” which is wrong—it’s still on par with the most popular outdoor activities in VT. Truth is F&W spends over 50% of their budget on non-game. License sales = 1/3 of F&W budget, federal match BASED ON LICENSE SALES = 1/3, the general fund contribution recognizes F&W’s non-game work & the major impact hunting & fishing has on our economy. Fewer licenses = less money for loon & bald eagle recovery, act 250 review, white-nose syndrome research, boating enforcement, songbird habitat, etc which all support our economy and environment. Despite the damage from a few bad apples that don’t represent the norm, the hunters I count as friends (including some in the article) are the most active, respectful & responsible conservationists I know. Anyone who values wildlife benefits and they are exactly the people we want mentoring new hunters

Tom Sullivan

To defy the laws of tradition, is a crusade only of the brave…. Les Claypool

Jean Hunt

Oh, where to begin…….I have been so disappointed by VT Fish and Wildlife. Seems like they haven’t had a new idea in 30 years. I have no problem with people hunting for food in the most humane ways possible. Killing contests disgust me however and in no way do I accept killing wildlife as “sport” or “tradition”. For all of my life I have been wandering through woods, streams, meadows and mountains observing wild things. This wasn’t a tradition from my family or community, it was what I loved and continue to love the most in life. I track and observe animals to discover and learn and feel the awe they inspire. My conservation and wildlife ethics are not represented by VT Fish and Wildlife and their board. If VT wants to expand demographics of people who support funding/conservation of wildlife and habitat (and humane hunting), they need to start including perspectives that are not just about hunting as “sport” and tradition.

Justin Turco

I grew up in a hunting family. Johnson coats and pants. I big old timer knife in my pocket. A lever action 30-30 that my dad bought for my mom in 1970. Everybody used to know what it was like to spend a week in deer camp. I know. If you don’t know…you’ve missed out. Read the poem “Palace in the Popple” by George Augustus Bixby (Circa 1905) for a recap. Brings me to tears.

I didn’t get a deer this fall, but took the whole season off. What a great time I had. Long quiet days, drank from every high mountain trickle I came across and by golly when it came time to go back to work…I was feeling pretty healthy.

Hunting: With a gun, bow, trap or fish pole. It’s all good: Building self sufficient citizens, good land stewards and Vermonters you’d actually want as a neighbor. A real shame that so few kids are being taught to value these things today. For it was these values that carried Vermont to this point in the good condition she’s still in.

Jon Murray

Maybe if they legalized suppressors for hunting? 42 other states allow it. We want our peaceful woods. Why not make it quiet as well. I don’t want to loose my hearing.

Brian O’Gorman

I own a small woodlot in Bennington County, and as written several times already, hunters and trappers know they are welcome on my unposted land. I sometimes hunt and rarely trap on it myself. If you are an “anti” or especially if you are POW VT you are not welcome there. If someone wants to shoot coyote 365 days a year on it, then so be it.

Mila Kornikova-Underwood

Interesting and well written article… I noticed there was scant mention, however, of the massive influx (into Vermont) of politically progressive-minded people, especially from urban areas like Massachusetts and New York. These new residents are vehemently anti-Second Amendment and also against the traditional, conservative view of Vermont life. Most of these new, “from away” types would never own or touch a gun, let alone pay money to the government to encourage the behavior of the actual events to hunt, kill and consume the prize. In fact, gun control advocates are gaining steam in all of Northern New England, particularly those aligned with Senator Sanders’ life view. I believe this is an immense factor in the decline of hunters and hunting licenses in Vermont.

Deborah Tyson

Its the cost for one – and the fact jobs are not plentiful in VT that actually pay. Its also the disease now were hearing about with the deer- and other wildlife and fish. Not to mention VT is very granola and health food friendly and a lot of Vermonters are vegetarians. Lots of reasons why but bottom line cost is top of the menu.

Cathy Berry

Hunters are generally not respectful of people’s property and livestock. I have no interest in allowing it on our property. Forget about the hounds, they are not controlled well. Real hunters respect wild life and property owners, their ilk are disappearing rapidly. The old time walk in the woods trackers, not the sport guys

 

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