Over the past several years the deer herd has thinned, according to Chris Towslee and Steve Houghton. Towslee - who has been hunting for the past 35 years - has noticed a decline in the amount of deer in recent years.
"There's not as many deer as there used to be and I think that's the same no matter where you go in Vermont hunting. The deer population is down I believe," said Towslee.
In Houghton's experience, the deer population has fluctuated. The last two years have not been good, he said.
"Last year and the year before I thought were very poor years. The deer population was down. This year a friend of mine who's already gotten a deer with bow in the area that we hunt said he's seen a lot of deer. It goes in cycles," said Houghton. "They did a good bit of logging in that area that we have our camp at so when you have logging you have fresh growth and it has a tendency to bring deer in. So, I think the potential this year is much more in the way of deer sighting."
The difference in neighboring states can be somewhat drastic though. Last year, Houghton said he probably saw no more than 10 deer over the course of rifle, muzzleloader and archery season in Vermont. However, while hunting with a friend in New York State, Houghton said he saw 21 deer in a two day span.
The deer herd may have thinned, but for Towslee and Houghton the thrill of the hunt remains present.
Houghton - who participates in rifle, muzzleloader and archery - said this is his favorite time of year. He has been hunting for 47 years since he first went out with his grandfather at the age of 13-years-old and he said his favorite thing about the sport has changed throughout the years.
"It used to be the excitement of killing a buck and being able to boast and then later on it became [being able to put] meat on the table. All my family loves venison, my wife and my two daughters, and so getting venison became the priority," said Houghton. "In recent years it's been more of the thrill of just being out there with the possibility of getting a deer, but not being terribly disappointed if you don't."
For Chris Towslee the sport itself was what he said he enjoys the most.
"[I like] getting out in the woods, enjoying Mother Nature, getting a chance to follow in your father's footsteps, which is a Vermont heritage of deer hunting; keeping the heritage alive," said Towslee.
But getting out in the woods is not the only thing that Towslee said he finds enjoyable; it's also spending time with his friends - many of them he says he doesn't see too much.
The experience both before and after they shoot a buck was also something that was a bit different for both men.
"[It's] the adrenaline rush," said Towslee of the feeling he gets before shooting a deer. "You're out there putting time in to shoot a deer, or to hunt for a deer, and you finally get a chance to kill a deer and that's why they call it trophy you know; you're getting a trophy buck whether it's a four pointer or an eight pointer that's what you're out there for [and] it gives you a good feeling that you've accomplished what you're out there to do."
"When you have a deer in your sights and you know it's a legal deer you can shoot there's a whole lot of things that go through my mind. Primarily making sure that it's a safe shot, making sure that it's a shot that will kill the deer quickly. Probably the third thing is wait until the guys at camp see this thing," said Houghton. "After that there is clearly a moment after the animal's been dispatched that there's sadness a little bit. There's sadness a little bit. Then you go to work field dressing it and dragging it back. That's exhilarating and tiring. It's a unique feeling. Only people that have done it can understand it."