• Stats don’t err, but columnists can
    September 21,2013

    In his Sunday column, Dennis Jensen uses rifle season buck kill numbers to bolster his opinion that the spike-horn ban in Vermont is a bad idea. He says that he’s had no problem filling the freezer with venison since the ban went into effect, but that he’s arguing for the little guys — the weekend warriors — who are going meatless because they can’t shoot a spike.

    In 2004, the year before the spike ban went into effect, hunters killed 5,589 bucks during rifle season. Last year, they killed 6,159 bucks during rifle season. A different outdoor columnist could have used the same statistics to argue that the deer kill is getting better, which shows that you should take all of these statistically driven arguments with a pound of salt.

    A rifle hunter could blame the spike ban for an empty freezer. But since the rifle season buck kill accounts for less than half of Vermont’s annual deer harvest these days (it didn’t used to be like this), they could also blame archers, who last year took 906 bucks out of the woods before rifle season, and youth hunters, who took 771. They could blame the muzzleloader hunters 11 months in advance for taking deer in December that might have been shot the following fall. They could blame coyotes, the weather, cars.

    A different approach would be to raise a hog for the freezer, and then go to deer camp for two weekends a year and have fun spending time in the woods.

    Dave Smith


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