• Deer harvest up 14 percent, to 13,850 in 2012
    STAFF REPORTS | January 20,2013
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    Vermont deer hunters had successful deer hunting seasons in 2012. The archery, youth, rifle, and muzzleloader deer hunting seasons’ harvest totals were all within management objectives set by the Fish & Wildlife Department.

    The total harvest for all four seasons increased in 2012 by 14 percent from the previous year’s harvest. Hunters harvested 6,300

    deer during rifle season, an increase of 9 percent over last year’s rifle harvest of 5,759 deer.

    “There are going to be fluctuations in the deer harvest from year to year based on the severity of the previous winter, food availability, and deer density,” said Mark Scott, director of wildlife for the Fish & Wildlife Department. “We anticipate those fluctuations in harvest and try to manage for a healthy and stable deer herd; to keep the fluctuations small rather than seeing big booms and crashes.”

    Last winter’s relatively mild weather and shallow snow depths likely contributed to this fall’s elevated deer harvest. Additionally, the low availability of traditional food sources such as apple orchards and beech and oak stands this past summer and fall resulted in deer changing their movement patterns.

    The archery season harvest rose this year by 25 percent, to 3,384 deer. This number was also above the previous three-year average of 2,825 deer. Youth hunters harvested 1,784 deer this year, representing a 9 percent increase over the 2011 harvest, and an increase from the previous three-year average of 1,661 deer.

    “Youth weekend continues to prove successful in recruiting young hunters to help preserve Vermont’s hunting heritage,” said Adam Murkowski, deer project leader for the Fish & Wildlife Department. “This weekend is important for providing young hunters with opportunities to make memories with family and mentors that will last a lifetime.”

    Hunters harvested 2,482 deer with muzzleloaders in 2012, representing a 16 percent increase from last year. “This year’s successful muzzleloader harvest is the result of a moderate increase in the number of antlerless permits approved by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board,” explained Murkowski. “The antlerless limit allows for a slow growth in the herd while maintaining deer densities within population objectives set forth in Vermont’s big game plan.”

    “This was a particularly good year for hunters taking deer with larger body and rack sizes,” added Curtis Smiley, President of the Big Game Trophy Club. “There were multiple deer throughout the state that were reported to weigh over 230 pounds and one that was reported at 247 pounds.”

    All harvest totals are subject to recount, which may result in small changes in harvest totals in the final report due in March. Hunters interested in deer management and Vermont’s new deer planning process are encouraged to attend one of two public input meetings, held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Kehoe Conservation Camp in Castleton on Jan. 30 and at Spaulding High School Cafeteria in Barre on Jan. 31.

    Down Home Derby

    BENSON — The ice fishing Down Home Derby, sponsorwed by the Benson Fish and Game Club, will be held on Saturday, Jan. 26.

    The derby open to all Vermont waters and Lake Champlain.

    The derby headquarters will be at Benson Town Office on Stage Road.

    Derby tickets are $20.

    Fish must be at the scales before 6 p.m.

    Fish categories are northern pike, walleye, three yellow perch and other. Bass, salmon, trout, etc., will be entered in “other” category.

    There will be no ticket sales after noon on derby day.

    The prize fund for fish category cash prizes and cash prize drawings will total 75 percent of derby ticket sales. Additional drawing prizes for tipups and firewood.

    The rules and cash prize distribution examples available at ticket sale locations.

    Tickets are available at: Ed’s Bait Center, Rte. 22A, West Haven; Tom’s Bait & Tackle, Rte. 4A, Bomoseen; G & L General Store, Rte. 22A, Benson; Buxton’s Store, Orwell; and derby headquarters. For information, call (802) 537-2468 or 265-9730 or e-mail: tbarthol@shoreham.net.

    Kids Down Home Derby rules:

    Derby Open to all Vermont waters and Lake Champlain.

    Fish must be at scales By 4 p.m.;

    Trophy for first-place winner in each category;

    Drawing for prizes;

    Grand prizes: $100, $50,$25 and $25.

    Prize drawings and awards will be at 4 p.m. Ticket holder must be present to win prizes except trophies and grand prizes.

    Fish must be entered with the derby ticket. See rules at ticket sale locations.

    Derby tickets are $5.00. Tickets are available at bait shops, derby headquarters and other locations.

    No ticket sales after noon on derby day.

    For more information, call (802) 537-2468 or 265-9730 or E-mail: tbarthol@shoreham.net

    Berlin Pond

    perch limits

    BERLIN — Yellow perch daily limits will be reduced to 10 fish in Berlin Pond under a revised “Test Water” designation being adopted by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department beginning on Jan. 26.

    A 2012 Vermont Supreme Court decision clarified that fishing is allowed on Berlin Pond after being restricted for several decades. This is the first winter people have been able to go ice fishing on Berlin Pond, and early results have been good, with high catches of large yellow perch.

    “We have seen fishing pressure steadily grow during the past couple of weeks with lots of large perch being caught,” reports State Fisheries Biologist Rich Kirn. “While many anglers are catching relatively few fish, others have been successful in nearing or reaching their daily limit of 50 perch. In three days on the ice, we observed that 12 percent of the anglers harvested more than 50 percent of the fish.”

    Kirn says studies of unexploited fish populations, such as those in Berlin Pond, suggest these populations often comprise a high proportion of old, slow-growing fish that are vulnerable to angling when opened to fishing. The high fishing effort and catches of large yellow perch would ultimately affect the quality of this fishery.

    “I am signing this ‘test water’ designation reducing the daily limit of yellow perch to 10 fish in an effort to protect the fishery as a sustainable resource while allowing anglers to enjoy taking home a few perch for dinner,” said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry. “Now that we have some data from recent creel surveys, we recognize the need to act immediately.”

    “The fish populations in Berlin Pond will adjust to fishing,” added Kirn. “We expect the yellow perch population density, fish size and growth rates will change. We will continue to monitor the fish populations at Berlin Pond and use this information to develop appropriate fishing regulations for the future.”

    “We are excited that anglers have the opportunity to enjoy the unique fishery provided by the opening of Berlin Pond,” said Berry. “Our plan is to sustain this fishery for the long term and we feel the test-water designation will help support that goal. We also encourage anglers to be respectful and use legal access points while at the pond and remove any trash from the ice before leaving.”
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