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NH Hunting Report - January 20, 2021

Important Resources for Hunters:

 

Deer Hunting

Deer harvest figures for New Hampshire’s 2020 hunting season are still being verified, however we do know that this season’s final harvest will surpass 13,000 deer, which represents an increase of 6% above the 2019 final harvest of 12,306. The 2020 harvest will presumably be the fourth highest recorded in the last 99 years.

 

“With over 13,000 deer taken during the 2020 season, it has been another great year for many New Hampshire hunters,” said Dan Bergeron, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Program Supervisor. Bergeron noted that the physical condition of deer appeared to be 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 fourth highest in the state’s history going back to 1922,” said Bergeron. Recent harvests remain among the highest in the state’s history, with 14 of the top 20 most successful seasons all taking place since 2000. Current harvests have proven to be more stable and sustainable than in the past with the majority of deer taken being adult bucks.

 

To see the official deer harvest results for New Hampshire’s 2020 season by county, and with comparisons to previous years, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer-harvest.html.

 

Bear Hunt

The 2020 bear hunting season achieved a new record harvest with 1,183 bears taken. This year’s harvest was 42% above the preceding 5-year average (836 bears) and 12% higher than the previous record of 1,053 bear set in 2018. The total harvest consisted of 608 males and 575 females, representing an overall harvest sex ratio of 1.1 males per female. Method-specific harvest results included 756 bears taken with bait, 314 by still hunting, and 113 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 third consecutive year, bear hunters had higher-than-average success rates despite an abundant acorn crop in the fall,” said Andrew Timmins, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Departments’ 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 during the 2020 season and was presumably offset by extended bear seasons, increased participation in bear hunting, and concentrated food sources. Bear hunting license sales increased 15% during 2020, likely a result of people having more time to hunt due to the pandemic, which contributed to increased hunter effort and corresponding harvest results.”

 

Current bear densities are either consistent with or above regional population objectives in all wildlife management units. For this reason, seasons have been liberalized in an effort to slow bear population growth and offer increased hunter opportunity. Timmins noted that the recent trend in increased bear harvest in several management regions has been very effective at moving regional populations toward formulated regional goals.

 

Fall Turkey Season

New Hampshire hunters took a total of 584 turkeys this fall of which 328 were hens (56%) and 256 (44%) were gobblers. This is a slight increase from the 352 turkeys harvested during the 2019 fall season.

 

“There was an increase in participation in turkey hunting last year during both the spring and fall seasons which likely can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and more people having more time to hunt,” said Allison Keating, the Turkey Project Leader at NH Fish and Game. It was also the second year that hunters had the option to harvest two birds in the spring in certain Wildlife Management Units (WMU) rather than one during the spring and one during the fall seasons.

 

“The 2020 spring and fall harvests combined totaled 6,302 birds harvested in 2020 compared with 5,428 in 2019 and 5,486 in 2018. That is three consecutive years of record harvests exceeding 5,400 turkeys taken statewide,” Keating explained.

 

The 2020 fall archery season yielded 230 birds, which accounted for 40% of the total fall harvest. The 2020 fall shotgun season, which took place for one week in designated Wildlife Management Units, yielded 354 birds or 60% of the total fall harvest.

 

Wildlife Management Units with the highest fall harvests were WMU J2 with 101 (17%), WMU G with 65 (11%), WMU M with 60 (10%), WMU D2 with 55 (9%), and WMU L with 54 (9%). These five units accounted for over 57% of the total fall harvest.

 

Moose Season Summary

During New Hampshire's 2020 moose season, a total of 39 hunters succeeded in taking their moose, resulting in a 75% 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 who scouted and hiked to optimal moose habitat reported opportunity throughout the state,” said Henry Jones, New Hampshire Fish and Game’s moose biologist. The 2021 moose hunt lottery opens in late January.

 

Small Game

Small game hunters are reminded to help Fish and Game monitor small game populations by taking part in the Small Game Survey and the Ruffed Grouse Wing and Tail Surveys. One participant in each survey will be the lucky winner of a quality firearm. Small Game Hunter Surveys will be accepted until April 8, 2021.Find survey forms and more information at www.huntnh.com/hunting/small-game.html.

 

More for Hunters

 

Wildlife Harvest Summary: Final numbers from the year's hunting seasons will be summarized in the 2020 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be issued in March of 2021.

 

Report Poachers: 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.

 

 

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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.