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Hunter’s Corner: Fired up for the moose hunt

There’s lots of excitement in the hunting community this month.

Yesterday, the moose hunt started and will last until Oct. 27. Having participated in five moose hunts – three as permit holder, one as sub-permittee and one as designated observer – I can’t help but convey to you the pre-hunt excitement. With scouting completed, the level of optimism is over the top. The only unknown factor is the weather. If cooler temperatures prevail, it will be a good hunt. If warm temperatures enter the area, it is anyone’s guess. Moose have an incredible fur coat that will see them well through the winter. When temperatures hit the 50s and 60s, the only choice a moose has is to bed down, which reduces your opportunity to spot a moose.

I have to credit Fish and Game on how they have managed the moose population, establishing the first moose hunt in 1988 when 75 permits were issued in the North Country. At the time, the moose population was estimated to be 1,600. About the same time, the North Country experienced an explosion in the spruce bud worm population. This necessitated an expansion in clear cutting to salvage the timber, which in turn turned the North Country into a salad bowl for moose and generated a significant increase in the population and with it the increase in moose permits.

Of late, the moose population has decreased to about 4,500. Not enough to cancel the moose hunt, but enough to cause a reduction in permits. The cause for the decline is principally attributable to the noxious winter tick. The only way to reduce the numbers of ticks is with a severely cold winter.

Moose permits are issued in 22 wildlife management units (WMU). Smart hunters have done some serious scouting prior to the season opener. Others have opted out of scouting and hired a licensed guide. Either way, the hunter is well positioned for success. After taking a moose, hunters must have the animals registered at one of seven check stations. There, wildlife biologists check each moose to collect information about the overall health of the herd. Check stations draw many interested onlookers, a reminder of the economic and symbolic importance of moose in New Hampshire, particularly in the North Country.

Hunters are reminded to avoid consuming moose liver and kidney. Studies conducted by Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have revealed high levels of cadmium in some moose livers and kidneys sampled. As a result, officials from the Environmental Health Program at N.H. DES recommend that no moose kidney be eaten and preferably no liver. If individuals do choose to eat moose liver, it should be from a moose no older than 1½ years. If the moose is older, consumption should be limited to a maximum of two meals of moose liver per year. Biologists at moose check stations can determine the age of the animal for hunters.

N.H. youth hunt weekend for deer is Oct. 26-27. The rules of the hunt are as follows: Youths must be under the age of 16; it is open to resident and non-resident youths whose state offers reciprocity to N.H. youths; youths must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 or older; adults who accompany youth hunters must possess a current license, may not carry a firearm or assist in taking a deer other than to supervise the hunt. There are other rules that apply and can be downloaded from Fish and Game’s website.

N.H. is one of many states that have created youth hunting weekend to introduce youths to the traditions. It gives young folks the opportunity to hunt without the pressure of competing with thousands of other hunters in the woods.

This is a great opportunity to share your love of hunting by taking a kid (you can supervise two) out. This can be a great mentoring experience and at the same time you can share your appreciation of hunting lore, ethics and outdoor environment. Because there won’t be other firearms deer hunters in the field that day, youth will have a better chance of succeeding in getting a deer than during the regular season.

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Nov. 10 is Salmon Sunday. From 1-3 p.m. at Pope Dam in Melvin Village, fisheries biologists will be busy harvesting or “stripping” eggs and milt from adult salmon. Standing knee-deep in the cold water of the Melvin River, scientists expertly relieve the colorful adult female salmon of their eggs by stroking their stomachs. Milt from the male fish is obtained in the same way, and mixed with the gold-colored eggs to fertilize them.

Pope Dam is nine miles north of Wolfeboro on Route 109 in Tuftonboro. Salmon used for the stripping demonstration are netted from Lake Winnipesaukee during October and early November. They are returned to the lake after their eggs and milt are collected. The fertilized eggs are taken to Powder Mill Hatchery where they will hatch in three to four months. The salmon are raised in the hatchery for about 18 months and then stocked in New Hampshire’s salmon lakes.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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