Hunter’s Corner: Fall hunting seasons fast upon us
Wow! Where did the summer go? Next week is Labor Day and the official end of summer. The earlier rains have produced a cornucopia of lush, green vegetation that the deer are feasting on. Acorns are starting to drop, especially the sweet white acorns, cornering deer’s feeding attention. Another sign of the coming of fall is Fish and Game setting the early migratory game bird season.
Crow season opened Aug. 15 and will run to Nov. 30. I would advise some caution be used in handling dead crows because of the potential they may be carrying West Nile or triple E.
The resident Canada goose season runs Sept. 3-25 with a daily bag limit of five birds. Waterfowl hunters must have, in addition to a valid N.H. hunting license, a federal duck stamp and a N.H. migratory waterfowl hunting license.
Snipe season runs Sept. 15- Nov. 14 with a daily bag limit of eight birds. Sea duck runs Oct. 1-Jan. 15 with a daily bag limit of seven birds with no more than four scoters, four eiders or four oldsquaw ducks.
This year, Youth Waterfowl Weekend falls Sept. 28-29. All regular season waterfowl regulations, including bag limits, shooting hours and use of non-toxic shot are in play.
Woodcock runs Oct. 1-Nov. 14 with a daily bag limit of three birds.
The 2013-14 waterfowl season also has been set and it mirrors last year’s season with one minor change. The overall duck season is 60 days with a bag limit of six birds daily. The Canada goose season is 60 days with a two bird daily bag limit. The one significant change is that all possession limits for ducks, geese and other migratory game birds are three times the daily bag limit, rather than two times the bag limit.
New Hampshire has been divided into three zones for ducks, Canada geese, mergansers and coots. The Northern Zone waterfowl season runs Oct. 2-Nov. 30. The Inland Zone seasons runs Oct. 2-Nov. 3, then reopens Nov. 19-Dec. 15. The Coastal Zone season runs Oct. 3-14 (Columbus Day), then reopens Nov. 19-Jan. 5.
Vermont now has two bear hunting seasons. The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, starts Sept. 1 and continues through Nov. 15. The late bear season runs Nov. 16-24. The early season bear tag costs $5 for residents, $15 for non-residents. The regular hunting license has a bear tag for the late season. The new season was instituted to help better manage Vermont’s bear population, that is now estimated at slightly more than 6,000 black bears. The number of bears has increased during the last two decades and is now higher than the objective of 4,500 to 6,000 in Vermont’s Big Game Management Plan for 2010-2020.
“Twenty-five years ago, Vermont’s was less than 3,000, bears existed primarily in the mountains and in the northeastern quarter of the state,” wildlife biologist Forrest Hammond said. “Through changes in hunting regulations identified in the previous Big Game Management Plan, we successfully encouraged bears to increase in number and expand into towns where their numbers were low.
“But,” added Hammond, “we are now seeing more incidents of bears doing damage, primarily where they are attracted to such foods as bird seed, pet food left outside, garbage containers, bee hives, chicken coops, barbecues, livestock and field corn.”
Hunters took 618 black bears last year in Vermont. By comparison, New Hampshire hunters took 808 bears in 2012, twice the number taken in 2011.
Andy Timmins, N.H. Fish and Game Bear Project Leader, estimates New Hampshire’s black bear population to be about 5,100. Bear densities are relatively consistent with population objectives in all of the state’s six bear management regions. Bear densities are highest in the northernmost three management regions but there are also good options in the central and southern part of the state.
Last year’s record-setting harvest was attributable to low food abundance. This situation requires bears to travel more to obtain food. 2013 will not be the same with ample soft mast and with both beech and oak producing a crop. A mast survey to be conducted by Fish and Game biologists and cooperating foresters will be completed during August and September. This will provide the best assessment of fall mast conditions.
The general bear season opens Sept. 1 and closes at various dates depending upon WMU. Baiting season also opens Sept. 1 and closes either Sept. 21 or 28, depending on WMU. Dog season runs Sept. 23-Nov. 12. The use of dogs for bear hunting is closed in WMUs H2, K, L and M. There are special permitting restrictions on the use of bait, so the annual Hunter’s Digest is a must-read for serious hunters.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)