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Open Season 

The Hunting Issue

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You’d never know from the bustling Church Street Marketplace that Saturday marks the opening of rifle season in Vermont. Any out-of-town foray leads to signs of sportsmen: trucks parked on rural roadsides, busy general stores, distant shots. As November unfurls, it’s not unusual to see skinned deer carcasses hanging hoof-side-up in front of homes of all sizes. The vanquished animals — both totems and trophies — are a startling reminder that Vermont is a place where hunting has always been an integral part of life.

Until the great migration of Subaru-driving, fleece-wearing flatlanders challenged that primal relationship with nature. The outdoors, for non-hunters, tends to be a recreational refuge, a place to hike, bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, birdwatch. Their perspective has gained ground, which may explain why fewer hunters, anglers and trappers are applying for licenses in Vermont. In his story, “Gun Shy,” Ken Picard looks at other factors that may explain the declining numbers.

Why should we care? Because hunting brings bucks — green ones — to the outer reaches of the state; local businesses of all stripes are bolstered by the activity. The revenue from hunting licenses currently funds the state’s conservation efforts, and sportsmen make great natural-resource watchdogs.

Furthermore, traipsing off into the woods for three weeks in November affords an altogether different view than a quick climb up Camel’s Hump. You could argue that the survival skills required — tracking, orienteering, field dressing, fire-building — describe an experience closer to nature than skiing down the side of a mountain, or even scaling a wall of ice.

The hunter’s aim may be grisly, but it’s also fresh, organic, sustainable, localvore — frequent buzzwords that you see repeatedly on those Subaru bumpers.

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Also in this issue:

Gun Shy: Why is Vermont's hunter population dwindling?

by Ken Picard

Of Elk and Men: A Northeast Kingdom "farm" fights for the right to raise fenced game

by Mike Ives

Killer Instinct: News editor Patrick Ripley confesses his oft-taboo passion

by Patrick Ripley

Picture Book Helps Kids Prepare for Opening Day

by Margot Harrison

They Got Game: In the fall dining is a little wilder

by Suzanne Podhaizer

DIY Deer: A mini course in gutting and cutting

by Suzanne Podhaizer

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About The Author

Paula Routly

Paula Routly

Bio:
Paula Routly came to Vermont to attend Middlebury College. After graduation, she stayed and worked as a dance critic, arts writer, news reporter and editor before she started Seven Days newspaper with Pamela Polston in 1995. Routly covered arts news, then food, and, starting in 2008, focused her editorial energies... more

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