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NH Hunting Report - January 8, 2020

Deer Hunt Success: The official deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2019 hunting season was 12,240. This harvest is down 13% from the 2018 final harvest of 14,113. The 2018 harvest was the second highest on record; the 2019 total harvest was 9% above the long-term average and was the sixth highest harvest in the last 97 years.

 

"With over 12,000 deer taken during the 2019 season, it has been another great year for New Hampshire hunters," said Dan Bergeron, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Program Supervisor. He noted that the physical condition of deer appeared good this fall, and that a number of very large bucks were again harvested throughout the state. "This season’s estimated total harvest ranks as the sixth highest in the state’s history going back to 1922," said Bergeron. Recent harvests continue to remain among the highest in the state’s history, with 13 of the top 20 harvests all taking place since 2000. Current harvests are also more stable and sustainable than in the past, with the majority of harvest being comprised of adult bucks.

 

The official deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2019 season by county, with comparisons with previous years, may be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer-harvest.html.

 

Bear Hunt Results: The 2019 statewide bear harvest totaled 886 bears, the third largest harvest in New Hampshire history. This year’s harvest was 9% higher than the preceding 5-year average of 816 bears, and only 16% below the record harvest of 1,053 bears taken in 2018. The harvest consisted of 476 males and 410 females, representing an overall harvest sex ratio of 1.2 males per female. Method-specific harvest results included 472 bears baited, 270 still hunted, and 144 bears taken with hounds. A breakdown of bear hunting results by region and method can be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/bear-harvest.html.

 

"For the second consecutive year, bear hunters had higher than average success despite abundant natural foods last fall," said Andrew Timmins, New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Bear Biologist.

 

"During plentiful food years, the bear harvest is often below average because bears are less vulnerable to hunters. This trend was not as obvious obvious during 2019 and was presumably offset by extended bear seasons, increased participation in bear hunting, and concentrated food sources."

 

Current bear densities are consistent with regional population objectives in four of six management units. Bear densities in the White Mountain and Central regions are currently above goal, therefore seasons were liberalized in an effort to curtail population growth and offer increased hunter opportunity. Timmins noted that the recent trend in increased bear harvest in select management regions has been very effective at moving regional populations toward formulated regional goals.

 

Fall Turkey Season: Preliminary figures indicate that New Hampshire hunters took a total of 352 turkeys this fall, a significant decrease from the 1,283 birds taken in 2018. According to Bergeron, "One of the primary reasons for the decrease was the abundance of natural foods. The harvest will be down in good mast years, as it was in 2019, and it will increase in poor mast years as in 2018 because turkey flocks are in the fields where they’re more easily seen by hunters." This was also the first year a second gobbler could be taken in the spring, and many hunters had already tagged out with a second spring bird.

 

The total harvest was comprised of 184 hens and 168 gobblers. The breakdown for the fall season was: 147 (42%) adult hens, 37 (10%) immature hens, 21 (6%) jakes, and 147 (42%) adult gobblers. Participants in the seven-day shotgun season in October 2019 recorded 185 turkeys, or 53% of the total fall harvest. During the fall shotgun season, 35 turkeys were taken on opening day (19% of the shotgun total) and 67 (36% of the shotgun total) turkeys were harvested on the closing weekend. Archery hunters took 167 turkeys, or 47% of the fall total.

 

Wildlife Management Units with the highest fall harvests were WMU M with 77 (21.9%), WMU K with 40 (11.4%), WMU G with 38 (10.8%), and WMU J2 with 37 (10.5%). These 4 units accounted for over 50% of the total fall harvest.

 

Moose Season Summary: During New Hampshire's 2019 moose season, a total of 38 hunters succeeded in taking their moose, resulting in a 76% success rate. Consistent with previous years, success rates were highest north of the White Mountains, and the largest moose, an 850-pound bull, was taken in WMU C2. "Hunters that scouted and hiked to optimal moose habitat reported opportunity throughout the state," said Henry Jones, New Hampshire Fish and Game’s moose biologist. The 2020 moose hunt lottery opens in late January.

 

Small game hunters are reminded to help Fish and Game monitor small game populations by taking part in the Small Game Survey and the Grouse Wing and Tail Survey. One participant in each will be the lucky winner of a quality firearm. Find survey forms and more information at www.huntnh.com/hunting/small-game.html. Thank you!

 

Snowshoe Hare Hunting Workshop: Snowshoe hare season continues through March 31, and an upcoming workshop provides a great opportunity to learn about the exciting sport of snowshoe hare hunting. The free workshop will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on January 25, 2020, at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness, NH. This year, registration for the workshop will be completed online. Register for the workshop by clicking this link, you will leave the Fish and Game website

 

Waterfowl Hunters: If you’re up for a real challenge, try hunting sea ducks, as they are currently open in coastal waters (seaward from the first upstream bridge) until January 13. The daily bag limit for sea ducks is 5 birds, which shall not include more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders, or 4 long-tailed ducks. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/hunting/waterfowl.html.

 

Wildlife Harvest Summary: Final numbers from the year's hunting seasons will be summarized in the 2019 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be issued in March of 2020.

 

Help Teach Hunter Education: The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is looking for volunteer instructors to help with the Hunter Education Program. Hunting is one of the safest outdoor recreational activities thanks to the 450+ volunteers in the state who teach the mandatory hunter education course. If you are age 18 or older and willing to invest as little as one day of your time per year, consider taking the required volunteer instructor training to get started. Applications are available at www.wildnh.com/hunting/hunter-ed-become-instructor.html. If you have questions, contact NH Fish and Game Hunter Education Coordinator Josh Mackay at joshua.mackay@wildlife.nh.gov. Help us keep hunting safe!

 

Report a Poacher: If you are aware of poaching, call Operation Game Thief toll-free at 1-800-344-4262 or report wildlife crime online at www.huntnh.com/ogt.

 

Subscribe to NH Wildlife Journal Magazine: New Hampshire Wildlife Journal magazine is your best source for hunting, fishing, wildlife, and conservation information in the state. Every issue includes outstanding wildlife photography, in-depth features, and how-to articles sure to elevate your experiences in New Hampshire’s outdoors. Visit www.huntnh.com/pubs/wj-magazine.html to read sample articles and to subscribe.

 

Get your copy of New Hampshire’s Wild Eats, Cooking Your Catch! Celebrate your harvest success by exploring new recipes for all types of New Hampshire game. From fish to fowl, New Hampshire’s Wild Eats offers fresh, easy, and exciting ways to cook your catch with the everyday cook in mind. Visit www.huntnh.com/wildeats to learn more.

 

Important Resources for Hunters:

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WSFRFederal 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, which is supported by an excise tax on your purchases of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Learn more at huntnh.com/funding/wsfr.html.