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NH Hunting Report - October 5, 2017

Kent Gustafson: (603) 271-2461


Greetings, hunters! Our first deer numbers are in, bear season is in full swing, and small game and upland bird hunters are afield. Wear blaze orange, stay safe, and enjoy the season!



cooking the catch

Fish and Game's Wild Game Culinary Adventure was an amazing weekend. About 25 recent Hunter Education graduates got to prepare, cooking, and taste a variety of wild game. Oh yeah, and they had a lot of fun at Barry Conservation Camp! Select image for larger view.

Deer and Turkey


Deer Archery Update: As of September 24, New Hampshire’s reported statewide archery deer harvest was 772, down 9% from 851 taken at this point in the season in 2016. This estimate is based on the number of deer registered (not necessarily killed) in each county.


This early in the season, numerous factors can influence the harvest, including weather conditions, especially on weekends, and mast availability, according to NH Fish and Game Deer Biologist Dan Bergeron.  Fall foods are relatively abundant once again this year, likely affecting deer movement and hunters' ability to "pattern" deer.  Temperatures have also been extremely warm, further reducing deer movement. Anecdotal reports suggest deer numbers are still strong throughout New Hampshire.


For a breakdown by county of reported deer registrations at this point in the season for the past nine years, visit


Youth Deer Weekend runs October 21-22, 2017. Share your enthusiasm by taking a young person hunting. Learn more at


Deer Muzzleloader Season:  Opens statewide October 28 and runs through November 7, 2017.


Fall Turkey Shotgun Season:New Hampshire has a 7-day fall shotgun turkey season from October 16 through October 22 in WMUs D1, D2, G, H1, H2, I1, I2, J1, J2, K, L, and M only. Hunters are urged to take note of the correct dates for this season because there was an error in the printed edition of the NH Hunting Digest, which has been corrected in the online version. New Hampshire also offers a fall archery season for turkey from September 15 to December 15. For more information on fall turkey hunting, visit

Bear Hunt

Bear Season Numbers: As of October 5, a total of 388 bears (215 males, 173 females) have been reported to the bear project.  Bait hunters have harvested 293 bears (166 males, 127 females), still hunters/stalkers have taken 71 bears (41 males, 30 females), and hound hunters have taken 24 bears (8 males, 16 females).  The current overall harvest sex ratio remains 1.2 males per female.  Method-specific harvest sex ratios include 1.3, 1.4, and 0.5 males:females (m:f) for bait, still, and hound hunters, respectively.


Currently, this year’s harvest is running 33% below the 5-year in-season average (575 bears) and 43% below the 2016 tally (675 bears) at this point in the season.  These numbers remain preliminary and it is important to recognize that harvest numbers change quickly at this point in the season as there is a lag between the number of registration slips that have arrived in Concord and the actual number of bears taken.  Also, 2016 represented a record state bear harvest (898 bears), and this year’s harvest is not expected to reach that level, given the increased abundance of natural foods this fall. For a breakdown of the bear harvest through September 29 for the past 6 years, visit the Bear Harvest webpage at


The decrease in bear harvest this fall as compared with previous years is most likely due to both increased food abundance and abnormally warm fall weather.  The excessive heat during late September and early October has influenced both bear activity and hunter effort.  In terms of mast, acorns produced in better abundance than expected; however, the beechnut crop is a little disappointing, particularly in the more northern part of the state.  While beechnuts are present on most trees, a large percentage of these nuts (upward to 80%) contain no viable "meat."  Apples and mountain ash berries remain abundant.  In terms of harvest numbers, the current season is tracking very similar to that of 2013, when the total bears killed equaled 572.

The bait hunting portion of the season has ended statewide.  Additionally, the entire bear hunting season has ended in the Southwest-2 and Southeast regions.  The statewide (excluding the southernmost two regions) hound hunting season is open until November 7.  The still hunting season will end in the North and Southwest-1 regions on November 7 and in the Central and White Mountains regions on November 21.



Moose Hunt


NH Moose Hunt: October also brings the moose hunt (October 21-29, by permit only).


Small Game and Upland Birds and Pheasant


Pheasant Hunters, Take Note: New Hampshire pheasant hunters should be aware that the pheasant season will be closed statewide until noon on in-season stocking days. In-season stocking will be: October 5-6, 12-13, and 19-20, 2017. See a list of pheasant stocking sites at


Small Game Hunters: October sees the launch of most of New Hampshire’s small game seasons. Diversify your hunting experience and enjoy New Hampshire’s great outdoors. Learn more at

  • Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock: The hunting season for ruffed grouse – New Hampshire’s most sought-after upland game bird – started October 1 and runs through December 31.
  • Small game hunters are asked to fill out a small game survey. Participants will be entered into a raffle for a quality firearm. Get the survey at
  • For grouse hunters, there’s also a wing and tail survey, also with a firearm prize; see locations for picking up survey packets at


More For Hunters


Report Poaching: Online at or make a confidential toll-free call to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-344-4262.


Share the Bounty: The New Hampshire Food Bank is once again accepting donations of game meat for distribution to more than 425 food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and group homes statewide.  In 2016, the Hunt for the Hungry program took in approximately 420 pounds of donated deer, moose, and other game meat for distribution to those in need. This was a significant decrease from prior year donations. The need continues to grow, so please consider donating your game meat to help feed our neighbors in need in New Hampshire. Visit


Cooking Your Catch: Discover ways to cook wild game meats at


Apprentice License: Don’t forget the apprentice hunting license, an option for those ages 16 and older who want to try hunting, but have not yet taken Hunter Education. It allows hunting under the guidance of a licensed hunter age 18 or older. Apprentice licenses are available only at Fish and Game headquarters. Learn more at



Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration: A User-Pay, User-Benefit Program

Researching and managing wildlife and teaching people to become safe, responsible hunters are activities funded by your license dollars and by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, supported by an excise tax on your purchases of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Learn more at