Norwich students welcome hunting season

Here in Vermont, fall means more than football and the first snows. The bow hunting season has just ended for whitetail deer, waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, are in season and now Vermont is in the midst of rifle season for deer hunters.

For some passionate Norwich students, it’s a time to get out and test their skills with a gun or bow. For the different seasons, there is different hardware.
“I prefer bow and arrow for big game,” said Grigory Bourlakov, 21, a senior mechanical engineering major from Denver, Col., and for “small game, you’re going to be using a shotgun or a .22.”
“It depends on what you’re hunting. For deer I use a .308 (caliber) rifle. Then I use a 12 gauge shotgun for turkey,” said Kaleb Smith, a sophomore business major from Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.
Different weapons have different prices, with the lower end being around $300 or $400 dollars, according to Bourlakov.
If a hunter is going with a more expensive name-brand weapon, it’d cost them “a couple thousand if you’re using a set of high end optics and a rifle,” Bourlakov said.
It’s not just guns that cost a lot. “It’s very expensive, especially bow hunting, because you have to buy so many different arrows and broadheads. I’ve spent alone, on my bow, probably $800 dollars,” said Eric Pierone, 19, a sophomore criminal justice major from Rotterdam, N. Y. (Broadheads are arrows with multiple sharp blades for a wider, cleaner hit).
Weapons alone can cost a lot of money but so can gear. Bourlakov said that his father is the biggest distributor of high-performance Sitka hunting gear in the United States. Sitka is tailored to different environments and targets.
“Right now, (there are) currently three different patterns that you can have. So if I’m waterfowl hunting, I’ll wear waterfowl gear. It’s just more tailored for that type of hunting,” Bourlakov said.
If a hunter was going to choose to wear Sitka hunting gear, it would be easy to spend a few thousand dollars just on gear, stated Bourlakov.
Not everyone is looking to spend a lot of money on gear; some prefer to keep it low key.
“If I’m hunting turkey I’m in all camouflage, and if I’m hunting deer I wear warm pants, a jacket, and orange on my head and chest,” Smith said. During deer season, hunters wear so-called blaze-orange to protect themselves from accidentally getting shot by other hunters.
Pierone also says he normally wears a thermal layer, and a shell layer that is all camouflage.
Even if someone does not buy the most expensive and high-tech hunting gear, it is important to be prepared for changing conditions.
“In Maine, the weather changes on a dime. Bring wet weather (gear), it could get colder so bring warm stuff, (and) it might be sunny so you might want to bring some sunglasses,” said Catie Castonguay, 20, a junior psychology major from Jay, Maine.
“Early in the season you might want to wear lighter stuff, especially if you’re going to do a lot of walking,” she said.
Bourlakov said that most people just throw on wool pants because they aren’t as serious about hunting as hunters are out west.
The type of animal being hunted is the deciding factor of what time a hunter should go out to wait or stalk his or her prey.
“I know a lot of people go out really early in the morning, just before it gets light out and they’ll set up,” Castonguay said.
Birds are easiest to hunt in the morning, Pierone said. That is when there is the most activity.
For deer, “if you’re in a field, then at night is the better time. If it’s during the rut, which is their mating season, then in the morning (is the best time) because that’s when they’re running around,” Pierone said.
For any animal, the most movement they make will be at first light and last light, Bourlakov said.
Smith, unlike a lot of people who do not have the luxury of being able to hunt from their backyard, lives on a farm where there are hunting opportunities. On the edges of fields and by the farm’s apple trees is where the most deer pop up, Smith said.
Pierone says the majority of the time, a hunter should get up on higher land where he can survey the surrounding. “My tree stand behind my house is the best spot,” Pierone said.
But if a hunter does not have access to a tree stand they should “get up on a hill where you can see down a get a better vantage point.
“Deer also like to bed down in the softwood, more like birch (trees or) anywhere that has thick vegetation,” according to Castonguay.
Before a person can do any hunting, he or she needs to get a license from the state where they plan to go hunting.
Castonguay said it is easy to get a license in Maine. “You just go online to the Maine Fish and Wildlife Association and register that you want to hunt on there.”
A hunting license is required as well in Vermont. “Once you have that you can put in for a doe permit, because the amount of doe (female deer) that can be shot during the season is limited, so they have a lottery. They’ll pick you out if you get one and it’s usually in the newspaper,” Castonguay said.
A hunting license can be purchased even by youth, who are offered special licenses and even special youth hunts, such as in Vermont. “I’ve been hunting since I was ten. You can get a license when you’re ten and you have to be with someone until I think you’re 16, and then you can hunt on your own,” Smith said.
Out west, it isn’t much different. A hunter in Colorado has to be 12 years old at least to hunt big game, which is deer, elk, moose and bear, Bourlakov said.
For many who get the hunting passion, hunting began at an early age. Pierone said the first animal he hunted was a squirrel when he was six years old.
When a hunter gets their hunting license, they also get tags which they have to attach to the animal if they shoot one. If a hunter gets a big game license, they can shoot a buck – a male antlered deer. If a hunter wants to be able to shoot a female deer or doe, they have to pay more money for those extra tags, Pierone said.
Hunting birds also has its limit, which is called a bag limit. A hunter can take kill two wild turkeys in a season, but only kill one a day, stated Pierone.
“Once you kill one (deer) you’re done. You can go out without a rifle, you can still walk around in the woods (and) you can still scout and track,” Castonguay said.
There are many different factors a hunter has to consider before going out and hunting.
The wide open spaces is the best place for hunting. “You’re gonna have better hunting when you hike away from people,” Bourlakov said, “The wildlife is not as dense (in Vermont) and it’s just a lot more crowded here (than out west).”
Hunters prefer different targets and tactics as they learn about their sport. Smith says if a hunter wants more interactive game, they should hunt turkey because with “turkey there’s a lot more action. With deer you just kind of sit there and wait but with turkey you can call them in (and) you can hear when they’re coming,” Smith said.
The pleasures of hunting can be enjoyed in the later part of the year, generally from October to December, according to Smith. With the right equipment, and patience, a hunter can be out in the field or woods as long as they desire.

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