Hunters Corner: Checking in on moose and deer numbers
The moose season ended last Sunday on a high note, with a final hunter success rate of 64 percent. I must admit, with the warm temperatures at the beginning, I was skeptical that the success rate would be that high. As it is, when the temperature dropped, the moose began to move again.
The 2013 moose kill duplicated the 2012 numbers. All told, 97 bulls (54 percent) and 82 cows (46 percent) were taken.
The preliminary numbers around the state demonstrate hunters having a 74-percent success rate in the Connecticut Lakes Region, 87 percent in the North Region, 81 percent in the White Mountain Region; 47 percent in the Central Region, 40 percent in the Southwest Region and 25 percent in the Southeast Region. While I fully expect there will be a 2014 moose season, data collected at the check-in stations may result in fewer moose permits authorized.
The 10-day muzzleloader season opened yesterday and runs through Nov. 12. The opening day for the regular firearms season is Nov. 13 and runs through Dec. 1 in WMU A and through Dec. 8 in the rest of the state. New Hampshire’s archery deer season began Sept. 15. As of Oct. 20, 2,518 deer had been taken by archers, an increase of 30 percent over the 2012 total at this point. According to Dan Bergeron, Deer Project Leader, the harvest remains up significantly from 2009 and 2010, when the September archery season was bucks only, and is the highest in the last nine years. Reported registrations in most counties have increased toward or surpassed 2007 levels, when the state’s second highest total deer kill occurred.
“The increase at this point in the season is likely the result of the mild winter in 2012-13 and favorable hunting conditions,” Bergeron said. “The increased deer kill is likely to continue throughout the archery, youth, muzzleloader and regular firearm seasons as a result of higher deer survival and recruitment following two of the mildest winters on record during 2011-12 and 2012-13. Food abundance seems to be average this fall, with reports of certain crops being locally abundant.”
So what does this mean for the non-hunter and hiker? New Hampshire has an estimated 60,000 deer hunters and maintains an enviable safety record. This was not the case many decades back when the annual hunter carnage was common in the Northeast. Two things happened to change this pattern.
First, to obtain a hunting license, you have to take and pass a hunter education course. This means states were putting safety-conscious hunters afield and eventually nearly all hunters have been through the course. Personally, I have been through the hunter safety course and the archery hunter safety course.
The second change was the research that went into developing hunter or blaze orange. This involved low light conditions and the effect on color visibility. For instance, red becomes brown, bright lime green becomes white and blaze orange remains blaze orange. Two colors to conspicuously avoid are white and brown. My advice for both the hunter and non-hunter is stick with blaze orange.
One of the specific things the hunter education course heavily reinforces is that the hunter owns the bullet he/she fires. Hunters are taught to properly identify a target and have a clear view of the background behind the target. This is why you really need to be seen and blaze orange will assist in this effort.
You can go online or read the N.H. Hunting and Trapping Digest for specific WMU season-specific and either-sex day regulations. If you go to huntnh.com you can download maps of the WMUs.
The Wildlife Heritage Foundation announced the 2013 grant awards of $81,700 to N.H. Fish and Game. Board Chairman Steve White reports this is a new record for the annual grant program. Funding comes from individual, corporate donors as well and the foundation’s annual moose permit auction.
The Berlin Fish Hatchery is the recipient of a $32,665 grant to cover the fish production tanks at the West Branch section to reduce significant loss of stock from bird predators, and to improve the water quality and decrease phosphorus in the York Pond.
In preparation for the 150th anniversary of Fish and Game, $5,500 was awarded for campaign research and materials to detail the history of the department, which will culminate in a year-long celebration in 2015.
A grant of $21,135 was awarded to the Law Enforcement Division for a dive team boat. The grant will cover the purchase of a boat, motor, trailer and boat electronics. The boat will be assigned for normal patrol when not on search and rescue missions.
$8,400 was awarded for a joint project between Landowner Relation and Law Enforcement to purchase and install motion cameras on private lands to capture poaching, littering and trash dumping.
$3,000 was awarded to the non-game division to monitor endangered wildlife species using remote camera technology.
$6,000 was awarded to build and erect signs, kiosks and information panels in 50 wildlife management areas around the state.
$5,000 was awarded to help underwrite the cost of running the 2014 N.H. Hunting & Fishing Expo.
Given the paucity of funds at Fish and Game, the wisdom and value of creating the foundation cannot be understated.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)