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Hunter’s Corner: Learn about Fish and Game’s proposed rule changes

Every two years by law, Fish and Game sets wildlife season rules for the ensuing two years. This year’s rule-setting hearings will be held at Keene High School on March 31, Fish and Game Region 1 office in Lancaster on April 2, and Fish and Game Department headquarters in Concord on April 3. All hearings will run from 6:30-9 p.m.

After receiving public comments, the final rule package will be presented to the Fish and Game Commission at its April 16 meeting and then to the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules.

WMU L deer permits, if approved, would authorize the issuance of 500 special deer permits. The fee for the permit is $13, which includes a $1 agent fee. The estimated revenue increase for the department is $6,500. Proposed changes in WMU M would increase the permits issued from 6,440 to 8,000. Additionally, applicants would be required to purchase two permits. The department estimates this will bring in an additional $20,080.

The proposed reduction of 151 moose permits from 275 to 124 will result in a $30,350 loss, of which $28,840 would have gone to the Fish and Game fund and $1,510 to the Game Management account.

A clarification to archery hunting rules authorizes the use of hand-held releases. Previously the rule stated no mechanically-drawn or released bow shall be used.

The deer herd has been expanding in the North Country in particular and in WMU J1. As a result, WMUs A, B and J1 will have opening day for muzzleloading season for any deer and the rest of the season will be antlered only. During the regular firearms deer season, WMUs A and B will have an any-deer opening day with the remaining 18 days in WMU A being antlered deer only. The remaining 25 days in WMU B will be antlered only. It is good news for WMUs G1 and J2, which will be open to taking any deer during the first three days of the regular firearms season, with the remaining 23 days restricted to antlered deer only.

Perhaps the most controversial proposed regulations involve the use of bait for taking deer. WMUs C1, C2, D1, D2 E, F, G2, I1 and I2 would be closed to the taking of deer with aid and use of bait. WMUs A, B, D2, G1, H1, H2, J1, J2, K and L would open the first Wednesday in November and close the third Wednesday in November. WMU M would open Sept. 15 and close Dec. 15. A licensed N.H. hunting guide would be allowed a maximum of six bait sites. The complete rulemaking notice, with original and proposed rule language, can be viewed at

Get building

Are you looking to break up the cabin fever, which may get worse with the coming mud season? I may have the solution: nesting boxes. The most prolific duck to be found in eastern North America was the wood duck. Overharvesting and the destruction of prime wood duck habitat and nesting areas nearly led it to the brink of extinction. The saving grace was the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The real turnaround came in 1937, when 486 rough cut cedar wood nesting boxes were constructed and set out in Illinois. The favored wood is cedar because of its resistance to weather and insects.

Ducks Unlimited ( is a great reference website for securing the dimensions and plans. It also provides a 12-step plan to build a wood duck house that simplifies matters. If you want to get into the wood duck house business, is just your ticket. Available duck boxes accommodate wood ducks, mallards, bufflehead, goldeneye and mergansers. They are priced between $45 and $83. There also is currently on sale for $1,199.99 a Heartwood aqua duck luxury floating duck house.

Think fish

I am already thinking spring and early trout fishing. For non-designated trout waters, the trout season opens with a natural opening in the ice. This is known as ice-out to ice-in. For designated trout waters, the opening is the fourth Saturday in April.

My first task was to put new line on two spinning reels. My next task was to completely organize my trout flies and lures. They were sadly completely disorganized, but no more.

In researching where to fish this year, a quick check at Fish and Game’s website ( is in order. Currently posted is the 2013 trout stocking report that lists stocking by pond and lake, listing type of trout (brook, rainbow and brown), numbers of trout, age of the trout and poundage. This is a quite useful report and, when coupled with Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer, you are in for an exciting fishing season. The Freshwater Fishing 2014 Digest is also a must-read for the serious angler.

Two new fishing rules for 2014 are: For bass in lakes and ponds, ice-in/ice-out has been replaced with calendar dates; and on the Exeter River from Cross Road bridge to Route 111 bridge from Oct. 16 to the fourth Saturday in April, all fish shall be immediately released and only barbless artificial lures and flies may be used.

On a closing note, Fish and Game is hosting an evening talk series at its Hazen Drive headquarters at 7 p.m. on several nights in April. The first, on April 2, is titled Take Your Fly Fishing to the Next Level. Acclaimed fly fishing guru and fishing guide Angus Boezeman will get your fly fishing season started with ideas for improving your technique and catch. Bring your questions on types of flies and how to fish them; Angus has the answers.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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