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Hunter’s Corner: Upcoming workshop a draw for grouse hunting enthusiasts

You might think that we are in the lazy hazy days of summer. Temperature-wise we are right up there, but there are a lot of things happening that will have an impact on our fall activities. By mid-week last week there were 400 WMU M extra antler-less deer permits left to be purchased. With the two-permit requirement in effect this means that 200 hunters could benefit from this program. The initial permit offering was 4,000 with the requirement that each hunter who wanted a permit would be required to purchase two permits. Theoretically, this meant that the potential for 4,000 hunters existed. That is far too many orange-clad hunters. This way, with 2,000 hunters, it becomes more manageable. I would be surprised by tomorrow if there were a lot of permits left. Call licensing at 217-3421 tomorrow morning if the permits are still available.

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There will be free workshop on woodcock and ruffed grouse hunting on Aug. 9 at the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. The workshop will run from 9 a.m.-noon and pre-registration is required and may be made by signing up by calling 536-3954.

The session will be led by grouse hunting enthusiasts and hunter education instructors Sean Williamson and Dan Keleher. Also instructing will be Andrew Weilk, the Northeast biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society who will give a presentation on ruffed grouse and woodcock and their habitat needs.

The workshop covers the basic skills needed for the pursuit of these challenging birds. Participants also will learn about grouse behavior, hunting safety issues, hunting with or without dogs, gaining permission to hunt/landowner relations, clothing choices, shotgun and ammunition options, creature comforts for an enjoyable hunt and recipes for grouse. If you have a young hunter in your family, this would make for an informative morning for a father/son/daughter event.

Grouse and woodcock hunting are of special interest to both instate and out-of-state hunters. The grouse season runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 with the woodcock season running from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14. Woodcock bag limits will be set at a later date. Woodcock are migratory game birds, and catching the flight birds can be a challenge. Grouse, on the other hand, depend on a dry spring. If we experience a wet spring, the chick survival rate is low and requires a second hatching season which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

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There will be a public hearing on freshwater fishing rule changes July 31 at Fish and Game headquarters at 6:30 p.m. Primary attention is given to the elimination of the Atlantic salmon stocking program. Clarify the rules with respect to brook trout in Umbagog Lake.

Any new fishing tournaments on lake trout and salmon lakes will be eliminated. This change does not affect open water bass fishing tournaments or grandfathered tournaments such as the Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing derby or the Laconia Rotary-Winni Derby.

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Every so often you hear the term the “New Hampshire Advantage”. The term has been elusive to me until now, whereby I have come upon a rock-solid indisputable evidence of one. We don’t have referendum voting. In many cases, well-funded out-of-state special interest groups organize a petition drive to put an issue on the state’s November ballot. This is exactly what the Humane Society of the US has accomplished in Maine. Volunteers gathered 78,528 to outlaw the use of hounds, baiting and trapping black bear. The Maine Secretary of State certified 63,626 signatures, enough to get it on the November ballot. How it will do at the polls is a yet-to-be-answered question, but when you have well-funded groups like the Humane Society, the results will be closer than they should be.

New Hampshire recognizes the three components of bear hunting: the use of hounds, baiting and still hunting. Each has its own prescribed season, although the still hunters get to hunt the entire bear season. According to the 2013 Wildlife Harvest Summary, still hunters took 163 bears, baiters took 309 bears and hound hunters took 98 bears. Given the estimated 5,000 black bear population, I don’t think the method of taking has any consequence.

Something similar happened when Fish and Game set deer baiting rules for this fall’s deer season. An attempt was made to circumvent the approved rules, but those who were making the attempt were told in no uncertain terms the statutes vest the Fish and Game Commission with the power to regulate deer hunting and no end-around legislation would be tolerated.

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Ducks Unlimited reported on the results of the 2014 waterfowl survey, and this is good news for the duck hunter. The US Fish and Wildlife Services report on duck breeding populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June.

Species 2014 2013 Percent change from 2013 Percent change from LTA

Mallard 10,900 10,372 plus-5 plus-42

Gadwall 3,811 3,351 plus-14 plus-102

Green-winged teal 3,440 3,053 plus-13 plus-69

Blue-winged teal 8,542 7,732 plus-10 plus-75

Northern shoveler 5,279 4,751 plus-11 plus-114

Northern pintail 3.220 3,335 minus-3 minus-20

Redhead 1,279 1,202 plus- 6 plus-85

Canvasback 0.685 0.787 minus-13 plus-18

The Atlantic flyway didn’t fare so well owing to high water levels that inhibited nesting.

Fish and Game turkey project leader Ted Walski issued his report on the spring gobbler season which resulted in a 4 percent decline over 2013 results. The May turkey harvest was comprised of 21 bearded hens, 1,198 jakes (30.8 percent) and 2,687 toms (69.2 percent). The age breakdown is 30.8 percent 1 year-olds, 40.3 percent 2-year-olds, 22.5 percent 3-year-olds, 5.6 percent 4-year-olds and 1 percent five years old or over.

Heavy gobblers were fairly numerous according to Walski, with 28 toms of 24 pounds, five toms of 24.25 pounds, one of 25 pounds (New London), two of 26 pounds (Bedford and Canaan), one of 28 pounds (Mason) and one of 29 pounds (Effingham). Walski details the kills per square mile (KPSM) for all the towns and cities in the state, grouping them by county. The town of Belmont took top honors with a KPSM of 1.33. Merrimack County towns worthy of note were Chichester (1.19), Salisbury (1.18) and Epsom (1.09). Concord experienced a .66 KPSM. Given that most of Concord’s area is mostly inside the municipal compact, I think that success rate in Concord should reflect a much higher number.

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

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