Chairman Sherb Lang
"Moose The Hard Way"
"Well, what do you want to do
now?" This was the question posed to me by Mike Poulin after yet another
unsuccessful push through a spruce swamp at first light.
Mike and I were hunting alone, and had been at this since
opening day of the 2005 moose season. It had rained every day and night since we
started, and getting soaked was becoming the norm for us. To make matters worse,
we had each poked a hole in our rubber boots the very first day.
I had seen 3 moose while scouting on Friday, one of which
was a young bull with a 2 ft. spread, which I grunted in to about 15 yards, but
alas, that was Friday, not Saturday.
Through the first 5 days, I had passed on several cows,
but saw no bulls. It wasn't written in stone that I had to get a bull, since I
had an "any sex" permit, but I thought a bull would be nice, so I held out.
Mike, on the other hand, had seen several bulls as luck would have it. Once, he
had two nice ones sparring in front of him. About here, I would point out that
Mike and I had an agreement, that as long as I was awarded the permit, I would
do the shooting. He was o.k. with this and we agreed that it would be the same
way if he held the permit. In fact, Mike carried his bow a lot of the time as
bow season was still on for deer, and anything's possible. Wouldn't you know, I
had a big 10 point buck about 12 yards in front of me on Friday. Go figure!
We had been spending the week at my neighbor Winston
Chambersí camp on Averill Lake. Many thanks to the Chambersí for that.
We weren't counting on the relentless rain, which
eventually turned into some major flooding in the area. In spite of all the
distractions, we persevered because after all, we were doing what we loved. Just
don't ask us to work under these conditions.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, we had to make a
decision as to what to do. Move, or stay here in this area. We agreed to stay,
as we had gotten to know this area well, and learning a new place in this rain
didn't seem wise. We also knew this spot held moose, so we headed further into
About 8a.m. we were back in along the edge of a small
boggy area, and were staying in contact with whistles and owl hoots. Mike was on
the wet side of a little cut-over spine and I was on the upper hardwoods side. I
suddenly heard Mike whistling more than would be usual, so I went to
investigate. Turns out he had heard a moose scrubbing his antlers on a tree in
the swamp. We headed over there and after Mike told me where he had heard it, I
started putting on a sneak and peek. Almost immediately I saw a yearling cow in
the trees ahead.
It is painfully slow work to try and move along and spot a
bull before you spook him, especially if he has cows with him. Finally I picked
out a larger cow looking in my direction, with yet another animal behind her
which I couldn't make out. I turned to Mike who was staying about 20 yards
behind me, and motioned for him to start trashing a tree and breaking limbs. As
he did this, I started grunting in hopes that we could hold any bull from moving
Suddenly a huge cow walked into the open at 40 yards. She
presented a perfect shot, but the safety stayed on. She was curious, but not
willing to stick around. I continued grunting and scanning the trees.
Finally after a few more careful steps, I made out a large
antler palm, and part of the left front shoulder through a hole about as big as
a T.V. screen. Geeze, I had fantasized all week about seeing a nice bull
standing broadside in an open cut, but this wasn't close to that. Still, I was
immediately on it with the crosshairs, and touched off. My last impression, was
that the bull lurched to the left at the shot, and disappeared. Mike approached
and we talked it over. I didn't know it, but Mike had taken my picture as I
We headed over to the spot where I had seen the bull, and
almost immediately I spotted blood. "I wonder which of these trails he used," I
asked Mike, as I looked to the left. Mike just tapped my shoulder, grinned and
nodded to the right. There, 25 ft. away at the bottom of a bank, was the moose.
Heart shot, he hadn't gone anywhere. The 180 grain Core-Lokt from my Remington
760 pump in 30-06 had done its work.
After a lot of high fives, back slapping, (and yes, a few
hugs), we took a long look at this huge critter. It was a nice respectable bull
with about a 48 in. spread, and 17 points. I still can't believe how big they
look on the ground. Awesome!
We took a bunch of photos, and then the fun was definitely
over. Mike offered to dress the bull as I held the legs. He did a great job,
with no bad cuts. We then quartered it, sawed the main torso down each side of
the backbone, and ended up with six pieces. I cut spruce poles while Mike sawed
the antlers out and removed the lower legs. I lashed the parts to the poles and
we got them all up off the ground to cool. After taking three elk with my bow, I
am well aware of the importance of getting a large animal cooled quickly.
INCIDENTLY: I have since heard of several moose that ended
What a waste.
Finally we were ready, and started lugging a piece at a
time with the pole on our shoulders, Indian style. The only breather we had all
day, was the walk back to bring another piece forward. After four or five hours
of this, the tops of our shoulders were like inflamed boils.
Mike and I each weigh over 200 lbs. and after all the
rain, we were sinking to our ankles and beyond in lots of places. We lugged all
day until dark, and were only able to get the 3 lightest pieces to the truck. We
left the heaviest ones in the woods for the night, up off the ground and covered
with boughs. I also left my stinkin' t-shirt near them. My GPS said that the
kill site was 0.9 miles from the truck, and thatís a straight line. We actually
carried it in a big arc due to the terrain.
It cleared off that night, with a hard frost which was
good and we spent 2 hours the next morning at dawn getting the last three pieces
Although we will never know what it weighed, thatís as
hard as I have ever worked, and if I EVER get to do it again, I'll shoot a calf.
I have to say, Mike worked with me step for step, and I
owe him a lot. In fact, I gave him half the moose, bought him breakfast, supper,
and it still doesn't seem like enough. We have been on some great hunts
together, and this ranks right up there. Not bad for two guys our age. Mike is
60 and I'm 63. Hmmm, maybe we better stick to deer from now on..... NAH!!
Norm and Mike both live in Williamstown, Vt.
The topic of the Coyote Hunt and the rising
consternation surrounding it was discussed at last week's HAT public meeting.
The discussion generally surrounded the fact
that HAT recognizes the hunting public's aggravation at the current condition
of the deer herd and recognizes the explosion of coyote population as a
The F&W Dept. really has not addressed the issue of coyote impacts to the deer
herd other than to say they recognize coyote kill and feed on deer and that
their impact is certainly more visible in times when the deer herd is already
low (like right now).
HAT recognizes the coyote hunt is legal and, in the long run, will probably
not impact the coyote population to any great degree. However, the attempt to
help control coyotes will provide some short term relief for at least some
deer this winter (and rabbits, turkeys, partridge, sheep, house cats and even
HAT is hopeful the coyote pelts generated from this hunt will be properly
processed and utilized. HAT also hopes the F&W Dept. makes every effort to
study the animals brought in and use this as a data gathering opportunity to
study the coyotes - even if it is just at a rudimentary level.
The fact that coyotes are so populous in Vt. Speaks volumes to HAT about the
impact the antis have had on trapping since this is a much more efficient
means of impacting their numbers than hunting. The antis want to have it both
ways on this - no trapping - and - no hunting - but that is not reasonable
HAT has done some investigating into this planned hunt as well and found a few
things not covered in the local papers such as:
all participants are permitted to
hunt anywhere in Vt. - not all in the locale of the hunt headquarters
many of the local businesses report
a surge in business directly attributable to the hunters utilizing their
all proceeds from the hunt will be
donated to the local fire dept for their use as they see fit
4) Wardens report no citations issued during
coyote hunt in Orwell
5) Wardens commended hunters on their behavior
during Orwell hunt
6) Many landowners have requested the hunters use
their lands to hunt coyotes
7) Sheep farmers particularly hard hit by coyote
As everyone knows, the hunters participating in this event will be under
intense scrutiny by the antis. Any behavior not in line with the finest
traditions of the hunting sports will be highlighted and held up as an
"example" of what "hunters" do. We need to be aware of this fact and conduct
enhance the value of deer and deer hunting to hunters and the State of
maximize hunting opportunity and the quality of hunting experiences
Seek to minimize losses to other industries and
the public caused by deer
Seek to minimize conflicts between hunters, land owners, and the
Seek to encourage humane and ethical hunting
Seek to promote, protect, and preserve the deer
Hunters Anglers Trappers
Vermont Deer Herd Management Proposals
The Hunters Anglers Trappers Association of Vermont (H.A.T.)
recognizes the overwhelming majority of hunter dissatisfaction with the
numbers, size and quality of Vermontís deer herd as it is today. H.A.T. also
recognizes the fact that each hunter has his own perspective and point of view
concerning the direction the Vt. Department of Fish & Wildlife (F&W) should
follow to improve the herd.
HATíS Hunting Committee headed by Sherb Lang and the HAT
Board of Directors have worked extensively on this issue. HATís lobbyist Steve
McLeod has attended preliminary legislative deliberations on the deer herd and
has attended meetings where hunters have put forth proposals for change.
While the Fish & Wildlife Department and sporting
community cannot control the severity of Vermont winters, there are some
things we can control that virtually all sports folk agree will improve the
health, size and abundance of Vermontís deer herd.
First, Vermont needs to make habitat management a major
priority immediately. Timber harvesting provides essential food and shelter
for deer, moose, rabbit, grouse, and most wildlife, and Vermont is decades
behind in implementing timber cuts on state lands. HAT and the Vermont
Traditions Coalition have been in the front lines of the battle to restore
timber management and healthier wildlife throughout Vermont and advocate a
major wildlife habitat initiative this legislative session as part of any deer
restoration plan that is adopted.
Second, Vermont needs to aggressively market hunting and
fishing so that license sales and consequently Fish & Wildlife Dept. revenues
can be increased to provide the funds necessary to enhance hunting and fishing
Third, HAT will work with all sporting community
factions to help develop the best deer management plan for Vermontís future,
and has already researched the major plans that have been proposed.
The major plans under consideration or that have been
||Do Nothing Ė Continue on
||Basically, the seasons would
remain the same, the bag limits would not change, the definition of a
legal buck would remain unaltered and F&W would continue to make
adjustments to the number of anterless permits issued per WMU
||This is the course of action
John Buck Ė F&W Biologist and leader of ďDeer TeamĒ has utilized in the
past. John has asserted previously there is no biological reason for
altering any aspects of todayís deer herd management strategy
||Enter into a 5 year experiment
for ďComprehensive Deer ManagementĒ in 2 or 3 WMUís which would establish
antler restrictions and intense deer study to determine impact on deer
demographics, hunter satisfaction, success rates and opportunities. The
experiment WMUís would be separated geographically into a northern and a
||The deer seasons would remain
the same. Hunters would be subject to antler restrictions within the
experiment zones. The number of doe permits within the experiment zones
would be increased to ďbalanceĒ the reduction in buck kill.
||This experiment is designed
and recommended by the current F&W Deer Management Team. It is limited in
scope to WMUís where hunters are most receptive to the experiment and
where most learning can take place.
||Apply the experimental changes
listed in Option 2 above to the entire State and not just selected WMUís.
||No changes proposed to Option
2 except to apply statewide immediately.
||Change the deer bag limit
statewide to one deer only per hunter. This plan would restrict a hunter
from taking more than one deer regardless of open season in effect. In
other words, if a deer is harvested while bowhunting, that hunter cannot
kill another deer during rifle or muzzleloader seasons. This proposal is
fashioned after the Maine deer management strategy. The definition of a
legal buck would not change under this proposal. The one deer allotment
could be a legal buck or a doe taken on an anterless permit but only one
deer per annum per hunter would be allowed.
||The deer seasons would remain
the same under this plan. F&W Board would continue to authorize doe tags
per WMU in accordance with established scientific basis. This plan would
be applied statewide. Youth hunters who killed a deer on Youth Hunting
Weekend would not be allowed to kill another deer in the same calendar
year. No hunter would be allowed to kill more than one deer during the
||This plan is put forth by a
group of hunters and sportsmen from the Northeast Kingdom section of
Vermont. It is a plan that relies on hunters automatically limiting the
buck kill by reason that any buck killed would basically end hunting for
that year and, therefore, many hunters would become more selective.
||Keep all seasons the same
except doe permits shall be used prior to muzzleloader season.
||The idea here is to cull
excess does prior to major breeding season so as to help ensure all
remaining does are bred and that pregnant does arenít killed in
||This proposal entails having a
special muzzleloader weekend hunt between archery season and regular rifle
||Open up Youth Hunting Season
to non-resident youths
||Idea behind this proposal is
to begin ďconditioningĒ young hunters to come to Vermont to hunt
whitetails. Proposal includes reduced fee license for non-resident youth
hunters but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult.
||This proposal is expected to
increase Vt. hunter numbers over the long term and bring additional money
into F&W budget for benefit of all hunters.
||Leave all current seasons, bag
limits and legal buck definitions the same but apply the focus to habitat
management. The idea here is to develop programs whereby F&W can begin to
help protect, manage and control deer winter habitat located on public and
private lands. This must include some form of recompense for affected
landowners such as management easements or direct purchase.
||Habitat, especially winter
habitat is the chief limiting factor on the deer herd size and
distribution in Vermont. The harsh winter climate effectively controls
deer herd size when winter habitat carrying capacity is exceeded. F&W had
based its whole strategy in years past, on balancing the herd to the
winter carrying capacity of the habitat. This proposal focuses on
improving winter habitat to grow the deer carrying capacity of the land.
||This proposal is difficult
since it involves habitat management on private as well as public lands.
This is always difficult when public funding is involved. The F&W dept.
would need to design plans that allow them access to and management
involvement to private lands where significant deer yard areas exist.
It is clear that there are many proposals and many
factions in this discussion and all have valid points and some statistics to
back their position. The other issue that is clear is that all parties to this
discussion are motivated by the same goal Ė to improve Vermontís deer herdís
health, size and quality and to restore Vermontís pride in its deer herd.
The first step for any of the above proposals (except
number 1) is to gain consensus of the majority of Vermont deer hunters so the
proposal has a chance of being enacted. Without approval from the Legislature,
the automatic default is option 1 Ė do nothing different.
Commissioner Wayne Laroche and the F&W dept. have put
extensive work into assimilating a large body of scientific data, and have
compiled an extensive deer hunter survey to determine hunter deer management
preferences. The survey of 5,000 hunters resulted in approximately 65%
favorable response to its proposed experiment (Option 2). In order to assist
the departmentís information gathering effort, HAT has developed its own deer
survey (access it on the HAT website at www.hatvt.org).
The current standing of the HAT survey has antler restrictions as the most
acceptable management tool carrying 43.9% of the votes to date.
In March, the Fish & Wildlife Dept. will hold its
regional deer hearings throughout Vermont where folks from each region can
offer proposals of their own or have their say on the departmentís experiment
proposal. At that point, the Legislature will likely determine what role it
wants to play in adopting a management plan, and will consider legislative
options. These options will either mandate a plan or give the Fish & Wildlife
Dept. and Fish & Wildlife Board the authority to adopt some or all of the
proposed options listed above. Once the legislature acts, the department and
board will make its final deer management decision.
Hopefully, the final decision will be coupled with a
landmark wildlife habitat restoration initiative, and a substantial commitment
to promoting Vermontís fishing and hunting heritage so that we truly have a
comprehensive plan to maximize the vitality of wildlife and hunting
opportunities. 88.9% of the HAT survey respondents are in favor of more active
land management (cutting) on the lands F&W are responsible for.
All proposals will be debated and proposals most likely
to succeed are those that have a scientific basis and popular support. There
is the possibility that open, thoughtful discussion and debate may allow for
incorporation of different proposals for different WMUs, at least on an
experimental basis, depending on the relative deer densities, size, and herd
health in different regions.
Proponents of other options are now in the position of
trying to determine the level of hunter acceptance of their preferred option.
This is a difficult but necessary step in winning legislative, department and
Fish & Wildlife Board acceptance. It is up to these folks to find a way to
demonstrate the level of acceptance of their proposal either by similar hunter
polls, petition, etc.
H.A.T. is taking the position that we are a consensus
organization representing the majority of Vermontís sportsmen and women and
are trying ourselves to determine the level of acceptance of these various
proposals. H.A.T. will back the proposal that carries the most widespread
acceptance of Vermont hunters. H.A.T. has been and will be well represented at
all the public hearings on this subject and will continue to lend our support
in any way we can.
Set forth this ___________ day of February, 2004 by the
H.A.T. Board of Directors
Wilderness in Vermont