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Hunter

Writer gets his turkey; also check-in on deer season

With the afternoon temperature ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, the time to maximize your outdoor activities is at hand. Such was the pressure I was feeling on Oct. 18, the next to last day of the shotgun turkey season. The last day, was forecasted to be very rainy. I made it out that afternoon to an area I knew held large populations of turkeys. My game plan was to cross over a field and to hike a quarter-mile stretch in hopes of connecting with a turkey. Walking over the field, I was amazed at the number of grasshoppers, suggesting that it should be a turkey feeding station.

My hike along the trail was uneventful, save for the flushing of a woodcock. Upon arriving back at the field, I detected movement. I saw a flock of six turkeys feasting on the grasshoppers. I was carrying my Benelli pump, which is capable of firing 3½-inch 12-gauge magnums. I didn’t think I would need that much firepower and was instead using 3-inch 12-gauge Hevi-shot in number four shot. Five of the turkeys moved to the left, leaving one exposed. It was a 30-yard shot and the Hevi-shot performed with perfection. Given the red in the turkey’s face, I thought it was a jake. I filled out my turkey tag and proceeded home. I didn’t have time to check it in and would do so within the required time period.

The nearest turkey check-in station was the Barn Store in Salisbury. On the way to the store, I passed by Colby’s farm, with the field to the left of the farm loaded with turkeys. These were big guys and they were very wary of the traffic on Route 4. The necks were stretched, keeping on the lookout for any danger.

I don’t know if you have checked out the Barn Store, but what a fabulous operation. I paid the $2 registration fee and they weighed the turkey. In spite of the color, it was a 9½-pound hen. The store manager went on to explain that most of the turkeys checked in for the fall hunt were young birds and averaged around 8½ pounds.

I removed the breast meat and left the cooking choices to Ranee. She opted to use a baking bag to which she added spices and apple cider to keep the meat moist. It was delicious and got me to thinking about next spring’s turkey season. That season will be for toms only and I will be scheduling vacation time to maximize my turkey hunting opportunities.

Today is the last day of the 2012 moose season. The first two days produced a 25-percent success rate, which is comparable to last year’s 27 percent. With temperatures as warm as they have been, after field dressing and checking them in, they are in a race to get the moose refrigerated to prevent spoilage. As of this initial report, the heaviest moose checked in was a 790-pound bull with an antler spread of 57.75 inches. The bull was taken by Monroe resident Terri Dexter in the town of Success in WMA C 2.

Two Massachusetts brothers, Michael and Frank Gleason, took a young bull moose after watching it fight another young bull up and down a clear cut for a half hour. This suggests to me that the moose rut may still be in play. Having watched bull elk battle it out, the amount of energy expended by the bulls is incredible. The Gleason’s view of the battle is something few get to watch.

The latest deer season update is in and the 1,943 recorded kills is second only to 2007 ,when 2,406 were recorded. There are several explanations for this increase, with the overall health of the deer herd being the most important. The other is the change in the archery season, allowing for either-sex archery hunting from day one of the season. The check-in numbers are based upon county of registration and not necessarily the county of taking. Grafton, Hillsborough and Rockingham counties are showing the greatest increase in the number checked in.

There have been six deer checked in at Marshall’s in Boscawen. Brad is of the opinion that the deer herd in Boscawen, Webster and Salisbury is off and hasn’t recovered yet. This is just the way WMUs are structured. WMU I 1 is the unit in question. Last year, the kill per square mile was 1.38 in Boscawen, .86 in Webster, and .64 in Salisbury. Brad may have a point. While only six were checked in, many more stopped by to have their deer weighed in because not all check-in stations have scales.

Saturday is opening day for the statewide muzzleloader season. There is a new program. The Apprentice Hunting License allows people who have not taken the required hunter safety course to hunt under the guidance of an experienced hunter age 18 or older. To learn more about this program, go to huntnh.com.

The rut peaks around Nov. 15, so currently there should be plenty of deer movement. In 2011 there were 2,251 deer taken during the muzzleloader season. In the peak year, 2007, there were 2,787 deer taken. I would not be surprised if the 2007 numbers were bested this year.

If you are driving around and see the deer crossing signs, slow down. The rut causes more activity and more movement, especially around dusk and dawn. The deer crossing signs are posted because of recorded deer-auto collisions. What happens is that deer do not alter their normal travel ways because it is intersected by a highway. The best course of action is to slow it down.

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

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