According to Deer Biologist Dan Bergeron, deer breeding activity is picking up, so the next few weeks should provide prime hunting opportunities. With this upswing in breeding activity, some beautiful deer have already been taken in the northern part of the state. While collecting data at a bio-check station at L.L. Cote in Errol, biologist Andrew Schafermeyer checked several huge New Hampshire deer over the opening muzzleloader weekend. Three of the deer were harvested in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) A and had field-dressed body weights of 265 lbs., 246 lbs., and 209 lbs. Another was harvested in WMU C2 and weighed in at a whopping 266 lbs.!
Abundant acorn crops through much of the state have likely decreased deer movement and made hunting more challenging, as deer do not have to travel as much to find food. However, deer movement will begin to increase with breeding activity in the coming weeks. A recent study conducted by the NH Fish and Game Department in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire showed that roughly 80% of breeding occurred during a three-week period that peaked around mid-November. During this time of year bucks are less concerned with feeding and more concerned with finding a doe. So as deer activity increases throughout the rut, so too does a hunter’s chance for success.
Deer Hunt Numbers
The estimated deer kill through October 30, 2016, was 3,154. That total is down 19% from last year at this point in the season, and is the sixth highest in the past nine years. Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Grafton counties are showing the highest registration totals to date. This includes results through the first weekend of the muzzleloader season. See a comparison with previous years at www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer-harvest.html.
The Youth Hunt weekend took place on October 22-23, and the unofficial reported take for the weekend was 246 deer. This preliminary total is down 37% from the official 2015 total of 391. Unfortunately, hunting conditions for this year’s youth deer weekend were quite poor, with heavy rain on the opening Saturday and strong winds on Sunday.
New Hampshire’s muzzleloader season continues through Tuesday, November 8, and the regular firearm season opens on Wednesday, November 9. Be sure to check the 2016-2017 Hunting and Trapping Digest at www.huntnh.com/hunting/publications.html for Wildlife Management Unit-specific regulations.
Hunters are also reminded to NOT USE urine-based lures. These products have the potential to spread Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a neurological disorder that is always fatal to white-tailed deer and moose. Synthetic lures are strongly recommended. If the bottle or package does not say “synthetic,” the product is most likely natural urine. Do your part and help our deer herd. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/wildlife/cwd.
Fall Turkey Update
The early return on the fall 2016 turkey season harvest looks fairly good, and should be greater than the 2015 season, according to Fish and Game Turkey Biologist Ted Walski.
Semi-drought weather during summer of 2016 contributed to good turkey hatching success and survival. Numerous turkey flocks were reported during the summer and fall months, but the abundant acorn crops will make it harder for hunters to pattern turkey movements. Turkeys will tend to be in the woods more and less visible in the fields.
Beginning with this fall (2016), the shotgun season was lengthened from five to seven days, with the addition of a weekend. It will be interesting to see how many turkeys were taken on the added weekend days!
Preliminary numbers (as of November 3, 2016), show that a total of 862 turkey registration forms have been received by Fish and Game so far. Of these, 656 registration forms were entered from the seven-day shotgun turkey season that ran October 10-16 and 206 from the archery season. The archery turkey season will continue through December 15 in most of the state but closes on December 8 in WMU-A.
Last year (2015), the total three-month archery season registered 338 turkeys and the then five-day fall shotgun season registered 704 turkeys, for a combined fall 2015 total of 1,042 turkeys.
New Hampshire Moose Hunt
A total of 52 hunters succeeded in taking their moose during the 9-day season. With a total of 72 permits issued, this represents a statewide success rate of 72%. That compares with last year’s (2015) overall success rate of 69%. The breakdown for the harvest this year was 45 bulls and 7 cows.
Bear Season Report
As of October 16, a total of 732 bears (393 males, 339 females) had been reported to the bear project. Bait hunters harvested 479 bears (267 males, 212 females), still hunters/stalkers took 186 bears (92 males, 94 females) and hound hunters have registered 67 bears (34 males, 33 females). The current overall harvest sex ratio is 1.2 males per female. The bait harvest tally achieved this fall represents a new record, exceeding the previous record of 430 in 2012.
On a regional basis, 148 bears have been taken in the North, 229 in the White Mountains, 210 in the Central, 75 in Southwest-1, 69 in Southwest-2 and 1 in the Southeast region. The harvest achieved this fall in the Southwest-2 region represents a new record level for that region, surpassing the previous highest harvest of 57 bears in 2012.
Currently, this year’s bear take is 30% above the 5-year in-season average of 562 bears for this time period. The current harvest is 28% above the 2015 level at this point in the season.
For a comparison of the statewide bear harvest over the past six years, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/bear-harvest.html.
WILD Deal: Order by December 5 and get the NH Fish and Game Department’s 2017 Wildlife Calendar AND a one-year subscription to New Hampshire Wildlife Journal for just $17. The calendar includes 2017 hunting season dates. Visit www.wildnh.com/shop/wild-deals.html.
Apprentice License: Didn’t get your Hunter Education course in time? Consider the Apprentice Hunting License, which allows people a chance to hunt under the guidance of an experienced hunter age 18 or older without first taking Hunter Education. This license is a great way to get started. In 2015, a total of 597 individuals (413 men and 184 women) took advantage of the apprentice license program in New Hampshire, hunting everything from deer to migratory waterfowl. Apprentice licenses are available only at Fish and Game headquarters. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/hunting/apprentice.html.
Share the Bounty: Hunters are again reminded of the New Hampshire Food Bank’s need for venison donations. For more information, call (603) 669-9725 or visit www.nhfoodbank.org. If you’re donating a whole deer, Lemay & Sons Beef in Goffstown, NH, will process it for the food bank.
Where Can I Hunt? New Hampshire has more than a million acres of state and federal lands that are open to hunting – not to mention all the private landowners who generously allow hunters access to their properties. For ideas on where you can hunt in NH, visit huntnh.com/hunting/where-hunt.html For a listing of New Hampshire’s largest Wildlife Management Areas, visit wildnh.com/maps/wma.html; you’ll love the interactive statewide map. Please do your part in helping to maintain hunting access on private lands; see huntnh.com/landshare/hunters-guide.html.
Report a Poacher: 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 wildnh.com/ogt.