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Hunter’s Corner: A memorable yet unsuccessful deer season



For the Monitor
Monday, December 18, 2017

The 2017 deer season is closed.

There were four of us who regularly hunted during the season. Me and my son Robb, and Scott and his son Brent. Work schedules of both of our sons made it difficult for the four of us to get out together, but this season will go down as a memorable but not successful one.

All told we once again saw 20-plus deer, but what made a big difference was the fact that we jumped six bucks. We hunted in J2, L and I1. The buck count was two in L, two in I1 and three in J2. We have never seen as much buck and deer sign as we did this year. It was beyond incredible. The other aspect that stood out was the lack of hunting pressure in the three areas we were hunting. I can’t wait to find out what the total license sales were for 2017. That is, is there a decrease in license sales overall or have hunter moved on to other areas?

I could not hunt on the last day of the season but could hunt on the last Saturday. I had an uncanny feeling that day would be totally productive. Our first several patches were unproductive. The final patch of the day offered some interesting choices. I parked on a tote road rather than driving down the length of the field. I had walked halfway to the end of the field when I spotted a wide-bodied deer staring at me. Based on its size I was convinced it was a buck. Given light conditions and the angle of the deer, I could not see any antlers.

New Hampshire does not have a buck only law. What it has is an antlered deer requirement that states a legal deer must have one antler of at least three inches or longer. The deer’s ear provides a quick guide. If the antler is longer than the deer’s ear, it is probably legal. If it is shorter than the deer’s ear, it is probably not legal. Sufficed to say I couldn’t shoot because I couldn’t see an antler.

On the final day of the season, Scott and Brent were able to hunt in a favorite area. Brent pushed two does into Scott. Scott was watching the does for what seemed like an eternity until they moved on. And then Scott jumped a monster buck with no shot to be had.

All season long we had been at the right place at the right time only needing a second or two to get a shot.

Robb’s biggest day took place in WMU L. The town we were hunting in had all the right elements for a successful hunt but we had never really connected with many deer. We changed our plans and instead of hunting high we hunted low. Robb had put me on a perfect stand that looked like a punch bowl. He then circled around and hit incredible deer and buck sign. He proceeded to jump two bucks and eventually three does. He had no shots to be had but at least we learned how and where to hunt in this area for another year.

I checked in with Brad Marshall and he checked in 101 deer this season. That is up from 70 in 2016. The biggest buck weighed in at 227 pounds and the biggest doe hit the scales at 132 pounds.

So, what’s a hunter do now that deer season is over? Scout for the 2018 season.

All of the travel ways including scrapes and rubs are clearly marked. We are still in the secondary rut so the scrapes will be tended. If you are a tree stander you will get an idea where to reposition your tree stand for next year.

If you are a ground stander you will gain the knowledge as to where to position yourself for next year, too. Deer will use the same travel way until someone alters the habitat by cutting timber or building a house or building. It takes about three years to recover from timber harvesting.

Small game hunters have until Dec. 31 for cottontail rabbit, gray squirrel, pheasant, and partridge. The snowshoe hare season runs until March 31, 2018. Just add a beagle and you are in for an exciting day. The one observation we all experienced this year was the numbers of chunky gray squirrels normally in pairs. I think all season long we sadly flushed only one partridge. This is because we hunt in mature forests. A little selective cutting would improve the habitat for partridge.

For the waterfowl hunter the coastal zone runs through Jan. 8, 2018 for ducks, and Jan, 18, 2018 for Canada and snow geese. The duck season for the inland and Connecticut River zone is closed for ducks and runs through Dec. 27 for Canada and snow geese.

Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.