Hunters Corner: New year brings new seasons, good results
Well, we survived the Mayan calendar ending much like Y2K panned out, winter solstice and 2012. Christmas day was greeted with a light dusting of snow, giving us a white Christmas. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the hours of daylight are increasing, if only by a couple of minutes. I always look forward to the New Year as, once again, we all get to start over with a clean slate.
Ice fishing will dominate the anglers. For the adventurous, river and stream trout fishing opens up Jan. 1 through a natural opening in the ice. For the hunters, snowshoe hare season will run through March 31. While there is no closed season on coyote, from Jan. 1 through March 31, it is legal to night hunt.
Vermont reported the preliminary results from the archery and firearms deer season. A total of 4,897 deer were taken during the November rifle season. The three-year average harvest is 4,867; it would appear that the Vermont deer herd has stabilized. Archers took 2,915 deer compared to a three year average of 2,484. The final numbers will not be available until after the muzzleloader season and second archery season registrations are available.
“Hunters this year saw the benefits of managing for deer herd health,” said Adam Murkowski, Vermont deer biologist. “Preliminary analysis has shown that not only are more deer being harvested this year, but the physical condition of these deer is indicative of a healthy and robust population.”
New Hampshire preliminary deer results are out, and they also paint a favorable picture of the deer herd going into the winter months. The kill numbers are being reported in the county where they were registered. The data as to where they were taken is being processed, and the breakdowns between muzzleloaders, archery and firearms are not yet available. With a total kill of 11,590, this represents an increase of 4 percent over the 2011 and five-year averages. The largest increases in registrations were experienced in Hillsborough, Grafton, Coos and Cheshire counties. Merrimack County experienced the greatest decrease in registrations, as 848 deer were registered in 2012 compared to 1,245 in 2011. I am not the least bit surprised at this decrease.
Seventy-six deer were registered at Marshall’s in Boscawen. No 200-pound deer were registered. The heaviest buck registered weighed in at a field-dressed weight of 187 pounds. The heaviest doe registered weighed in at a field-dressed weight of 120 pounds. The winners of the deer pool were Cary McQueen from Campton, with a 165-pound buck, and Mark Beaudry of Concord, with a 115-pound doe.
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Fall turkey hunters experienced an exceptional fall. Preliminary registrations indicate the overall results for the five-day fall shotgun season and three-month archery seasons were good. New Hampshire hunters registered a total of 1,024 turkeys, a 60 percent increase over last year’s combined fall turkey season. The 2012 breakdown was 707 wild turkeys harvested during the fall shotgun season and 311 turkeys harvested during the fall archery season.
The higher numbers are primarily due to the semi-drought conditions (good for hatching) early in the year that led to good turkey productivity in 2012, as well as the scarcity of mast (acorns, apples, beechnuts, etc.) in the woods this fall, making turkeys more vulnerable to hunters, according to Ted Walski, Fish and Game’s preeminent turkey biologist.
There are some who wish to see New Hampshire go to a two bearded turkey limit in the spring and keep the five-day shotgun season in the fall. I don’t think total numbers of turkeys justify such a change. I would like to see the fall five-day shotgun season include a Saturday and Sunday in the five-day hunt to allow greater hunter access, but that might not happen also.
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In 2008, Mossberg introduced the Model 464 .30-30. This is a well-crafted lever action rifle which, when equipped with optional fiber optic sights, would make for an excellent addition or first-time deer hunting rifle. Most deer shot in New Hampshire are shot from less than 100 yards away. The addition of the Hornady Lever Evolution ammunition has shed the .30-30 in a new light. In comparison to another brand, the Hornady provides an additional 100 feet per second in muzzle velocity and an additional 153 feet per second at 100 yards. In terms of energy measured in foot pounds, the Hornady has an additional 167 foot pounds at the muzzle and 227 foot pounds at 100 yards.
The Model 464 is an excellent nasty weather deer rifle when equipped with the fiber optic front and rear sights. In what I call nasty weather hunting, rain or snow, ranges to target are shortened and the 160 grain bullet makes for a great combination. My nasty weather deer weapon is my Mossberg slug shotgun for the same reason why the 464 is also a good choice.
So what did Mossberg do in 2012? It came out with an AR version of the 464, the 464 SPX replete with a synthetic six-position AR style stock, tri-rail fore-end and an optional flash suppressor. I think the Model 464 is a good hunting rifle option. The 464 SPX borders on being silly.
Happy New Year!
Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.