This is the season when hikers, runners, woodsmen and farmers share the woods with those hunting white-tailed deer. It’s been archery season for several weeks; muzzleloaders and rifles will follow soon. (Click here for information about hunting seasons in New Hampshire and Vermont). During this annual “harvest,” wear blaze orange if you are out in the woods and fields.
In New Hampshire and Vermont, deer hunting is a ritual shared by a declining population of hunters. Yet, this activity is really the only way to control the population of a species that can have devastating impacts on forest health. When too many deer inhabit a forested landscape, they eat young saplings, preventing regeneration and creating openings for invasive species like buckthorn and honeysuckle to replace hardwoods and wildflowers. So as hunting season begins this year, consider that hunters have an important role to play in forest stewardship. If your woods are showing signs of deer browse, welcoming hunters may be the best thing to do. For more information about deer impacts, click here.