NH Deer Hunt: The unofficial deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2016 hunting season was 10,702, down slightly (2%) from the 2015 final kill of 10,895. Based on this estimate, the 2016 total represents the 7th highest kill in the last 9 years and is very similar to the 20-year average of 10,912. Deer hunting seasons are now closed in the state.
“With nearly 11,000 deer taken by hunters, it has been another very good season overall in New Hampshire,” said Dan Bergeron, the N.H. Fish and Game Department’s deer biologist. He noted that the physical condition of deer was good again this year, and that quite a few very large bucks were harvested throughout the state, including a 266-lb. buck taken in Success which made the top 10 list of biggest bucks ever harvested in the state (for all hunting methods). Bergeron also noted that “this season’s estimated total harvest ranks among the top 25 total harvests going back 95 years to 1922. In fact, 21 of the top 25 years have taken place from 1995-2016 (during the last 22 years), and 9 of the top 10 years for adult buck harvests have taken place since 2000 (adult buck harvest numbers for 2016 have not yet been verified).
The unofficial deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2016 season by county, with comparisons to previous years, can be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer-harvest.html. Official harvest numbers will be made available after all deer registration data are entered and verified.
Bear Hunt Success: The 2016 New Hampshire bear season concluded at 898 bears, which was 34% above the preceding 5-year average of 668 bears. Additionally, this year’s harvest was 19% above the 2015 level. The harvest consisted of 481 males and 417 females, resulting in an overall harvest sex ratio of 1.2 males per female. Method-specific harvest sex ratios included 1.3 males to females for bait hunters, and 1.0 males to females for both still and hound hunters.
A breakdown of bear hunting results by region and method may be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/bear-harvest.html.
The increased bear harvest during 2016 was the result of several factors including a strong bear population that has recently experienced slight growth in select regions, a continued shift by hunters toward using methods that yield higher success rates, concentrated fall food sources (acorns) and extended hunting opportunities in select regions in 2016. Additionally, most Wildlife Management Units have bear hunting seasons that overlap with a significant portion of deer seasons, including both muzzleloader and firearms. This provides opportunity for opportunistic deer hunters to take a bear.
“The fact that the majority (64%) of the statewide harvest came from the White Mountains and Central regions dovetailed well with current bear population management goals,” said Andrew Timmins, the N.H. Fish and Game Department’s bear biologist. He noted that that those two management regions require a reduction in bear density to meet recently revised population management goals. Bear densities in the remaining four management regions are generally consistent with respective regional goals.
Fall Turkey Season: Preliminary figures show that New Hampshire hunters took a total of 1,047 turkeys this fall, just a few more than the total of 1,043 taken in 2015. The harvest was comprised of 553 hens and 514 gobblers. The breakdown for the fall season was: 370 (35.3%) adult hens, 163 (15.6%) immature hens, 109 (10.4%) jakes, and 405 (38.7%) adult gobblers.
The fall shotgun turkey season was lengthened by the addition of a weekend in 2016. Participants in the seven-day shotgun season in October recorded 763 turkeys (73%) of the harvest, up 8.4% from the 2015 total of 704, when the season was just five days. During the fall shotgun season, 227 (29.8%) turkeys were taken on opening day and 230 (30.2%) turkeys on the closing weekend.Archery hunters took 284 turkeys, or 27% of the 2016 fall total.
Towns (WMU) with greatest fall turkey harvests were:27 Bath (D2), 18 Barnstead (J2), 18 Deerfield (L), 17 Belmont (J2), 17 Freedom (J1), 16 Cornish (H1), 15 Charlestown (H1), 15 Claremont (H1), 15 Loudon (J2), 15 Weare (K), 15 Winchester (H2), 12 Alton (J2), 12 Gilmanton (J2), 11 Canaan (G), 11 Haverhill (D2), 10 Brentwood (M), 10 Enfield (G), 10 Epsom (L), 10 Farmington (J2), 10 Goffstown (K), 10 Jaffrey (H2), 10 Lebanon (G), 10 Lisbon (D2), 10 Newport (I2), 10 Plainfield (H1) and 10 Walpole (H2).
Once again, WMU J2 in eastern New Hampshire had the greatest harvest of all 18 units, with 187 (17.9%) turkeys. The second largest harvest was WMU K, with 118 (11.3%) turkeys.
Moose Season Summary: Preliminary figures for New Hampshire’s 2016 moose season showed that 52 hunters succeeded in taking their moose during the 9-day season. See a summary of the moose season at www.wildnh.com/newsroom/news.html?news=519. Regional moose hunt success rate data is available at www.wildnh.com/hunting/moose-harvest.html
Small Game Hunters are reminded to help monitor small game populations by taking part in two Fish and Game surveys: Small Game and Grouse Wing and Tail; 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. And thanks! Snowshoe hare season continues through March 31 and the upcoming workshop (see below) provides a great opportunity to learn all about it then try your new skills.
Snowshoe Hare Hunting Workshop: A chance to learn about the exciting sport of snowshoe hare hunting is coming up this January at Fish and Game’s Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. The free workshop will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on January 28, 2017. To register, call the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center at (603) 536-3954.
Waterfowl Hunters: There’s still opportunity to get out and hunt ducks in the Coastal Zone until January 8 and Canada geese to January 18. Geese can also be taken in the Inland & Connecticut River Zone until December 27. 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. Falconry is open in the Northern Zone until January 26 and reopens for the second split in the Inland & Connecticut River Zone on December 28-January 26. Falconers in the Coastal Zone can work their birds starting on January 25 and ending on March 10. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/hunting/waterfowl.html.
Wildlife Harvest Summary: Final numbers from all the year’s hunting seasons will be summarized in the 2016 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be issued in March of 2017.
Help Teach Hunter Ed: New Hampshire Fish and Game is looking for avid outdoorsmen and women to become volunteer instructors for the Hunter Education Program. If you are 18 or older and willing to invest 10 to 20 hours of your time each year to bring the love of the outdoors to a new generation, consider taking the required training to get started. Applications are available at www.wildnh.com/hunting/hunter-ed-become-instructor.html. If you have questions, call Fish and Game Hunter Education Coordinator Josh Mackay at 603-271-0459 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help pass on the hunting traditions!
Report Poaching: If you are aware of a poaching situation, call Operation Game Thief toll-free at 1-800-344-4262 or report wildlife crime online at www.wildnh.com/ogt.
Contributing to New Hampshire’s Economy: New Hampshire’s successful hunting seasons are a reminder that hunting activities, made possible by science-based wildlife management, contribute significantly to New Hampshire’s economy. The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-associated Recreation done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that hunters generate about $61 million in hunting-related expenditures each year in New Hampshire. In 2015, more than 58,099 hunting licenses were sold in the state.