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Hunter’s corner: A look back at the deer season that just ended

  • The regular deer season is over in New Hampshire. Let’s just say it was not a good year for deer hunters but it wasn’t a bad year, either. Hopefully the snow brings more luck. AP file



For the Monitor
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Well, the regular deer season ended and for all intents and purposes, it was not a good year or a bad year. Robb and I had our chances on opening day and we both missed. All told, we saw 13 deer, one buck and 12 does. Not a bad season.

We saw one deer in WMU l and were totally disappointed in the spots we were hunting in. All of the critical elements were present – food, water, shelter and safe travel ways but no deer. Our fellow hunters speculated that it was due to poaching or coyotes because there was no other explanation we could come up with.

Our best WMU was J 2. We spotted one buck and 11 does. All of the habitat elements and deer safety options were present. It became a matter of timing. It was ironic that the day after the season closed, we got the perfect tracking snow we were looking for all season. The archery deer season and archery turkey season continues with the exception of WMU A through Thursday. I may have one more opportunity to go out with my bow and the snow will definitely help.

I spent the last time out over in WMU I 1 at a spot that had active runways in the past. The first thing I noticed was a side hill that had been clear cut. Next, what used to be a trickling creek had been worked over by some active beavers. The result: two beaver ponds that will make for some excellent wood duck possibilities next fall.

Into the future

The technological advances have definitely changed the nature of deer hunting. Food plots and the use of trail cameras come to mind. Food plots are not necessarily a bad thing as they are supplementing a deer’s diet either during the period in which they are feeding or when they are trying to bulk up for the rut and winter.

Trail cameras are a different matter. It is possible to have a trail camera take a picture and automatically transmit the picture to your cell phone or computer. This is particularly troublesome when associated with baiting for deer or bear. I have a lot of hunter friends who use trail cams but not associated with baiting. I think a reasonable solution would be eliminating the use of trail cams one week before the bear-baiting season begins. With respect to the use of trail cams during the deer season, I think a restriction of the use of trail cams within 50 yards of a bait site would be good; or just prohibit the use of trail cams on the week before the opening of muzzle-loading season until the end of the regular deer fire arms season.

Boy scout idea

A friend of mine recently suggested that perhaps as a boy scout project, they could live-box trap cottontails in the salt marshes in Portsmouth and Hampton and release them in areas where they might thrive. So I checked in with the cottontail expert of Fish and Game and received an enlightened response that I never anticipated. The cottontails in the marshes are Eastern cottontails and non-native to New Hampshire. The New England cottontail is native to New Hampshire. For this reason alone, you cannot transport and expand the range of a non-native species.

Gift idea

This is the Christmas shopping season and I have a nifty gift idea that could make a difference. The Barry Conservation Camp is conducting a major fundraising campaign to build a much-needed addition to the dining hall at this popular North Country camp. The new screened-in room would expand the available space for campers and staff at mealtimes. It will also add a covered classroom space for use during inclement weather.

The Wildlife Heritage Foundation is leading the charge to raise $22,500 by year’s end to qualify for a generous matching grant from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Barry Conservation Camp hosts more than 260 campers each summer in weeklong sessions. For 30 years, the camp has thrived as the place where love and respect for the outdoors is shared with the next generation. Operated be the Fish and Game in partnership with the UNH Cooperative Extension, the camp focuses on increasing appreciation for the natural world and the need to conserve our natural surroundings, as well as providing opportunities for learn fishing, hunting, shooting and other outdoor skills.

Your donation will make a difference. There are three ways to give (please specify Barry Camp addition):

Give online at the Foundation website: nhwildlifeheritage.org/donate.

Share our Go Fund Me page at: gofundme.com/barry-camp-expansion.

Send a check payable to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire, PO Box 3993, Concord 03302.

I received two mailings last week that has me daydreaming about 2017. First was the announcement of the 38th year of the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby to be held of Feb. 11-12. I would be surprised if we didn’t have some great ice fishing prospects by then.

The second was from Naswa Resort announcing the 34th annual “Winni Derby” on Lake Winnipesaukee. The Laconia Rotary has partnered with the Daniel Webster Council Boy Scouts of America. The derby will be held May 19-21. This is the very latest it can be held as is follows Mother’s Day weekend. From a water quality standpoint, as long as the weather holds out, these are the best fishing conditions we can expect. It’s game on, brother.

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