Hunter’s Corner: Turkeys had a good breeding season

Monitor staff
Sunday, July 09, 2017

I am starting to see the results of the spring nesting season on the turkey population. On West Road in Canterbury approaching Canterbury Woods Country Club I spotted a flock of 12 poults being guarded by a very wary hen turkey. I watched with amazement two hens guarding a flock of eight poults at Pembroke Pines Country Club. I was later informed that the flock was down to eight from a starting point of 12 and the culprit responsible for the reduction was a red fox. Turkeys normally have a large number of poults, and the reason is simple. Poults have two enemies: weather and predators. If they survive a cold wet spring, they have to survive predators. Until they grow big enough to fly up to roosting trees, they spend the night on the ground and are at risk. Once they achieve the growth they need to roost, they aren’t totally rich free but their opportunity for survival is significantly advanced.

I have no idea how the statewide turkey season succeeded but from my limited observations, it looks like the greater Concord area had a good breeding season.

I am still at a loss to explain what happened to cause a bear to be dispatched in Nashua this past week. From some of the reports I have read, outside interlopers force the situation and the police felt there was no option than to take the bear out. What a waste.

Fish and Game recognizes that more and more New Hampshire residents are into the backyard chicken business. This is in part owing to the egg production and in part to ability of the chickens to attack ticks. However, the chickens present an attractive nuisance to predators, black bears, foxes, raccoons, fishers, and other members of the martin family.

“Fish and Game strongly recommends that the public take a responsible approach to protecting their chickens and other livestock, one that is beneficial to both the state’s wildlife and a homeowner’s property and resources,” said Andrew Timmins, Fish and Game’s Bear Project leader. “Each summer, an increasing number of bears and other wildlife are killed by homeowners protecting poultry and other livestock from predation. This does not represent a sustainable approach to managing our wildlife resources. If poultry and livestock remove a potential threat through trapping or lethal means.”

Electric fencing is the most effective means of keeping bears and other wildlife out of chicken coops and other areas where livestock is contained. Wildlife predators are readily tempted by easy and high-quality chickens and poultry grain. In New Hampshire, many chickens are free-ranging or insecurely housed and thereby are vulnerable to predation. A properly constructed electric fence will typically prevent coop entry by bears and other wildlife. Electric fencing represents a lasting solution to wildlife conflicts, as it will protect livestock for years to come.

“Electric poultry (and bee) fence packages are readily available from a variety of stores and distributors in New Hampshire. If properly maintained, this equipment will last for many years thereby making the financial investment a very reasonable one,” said Timmons. “Be responsible, go electric!”

My brother-in-law lives in Vermont and has his bee hives protected by an electric fence. I look forward to a jar of “Hawk Mountain” honey at Christmas time. Given some of the critters in his neighborhood, no fence, no honey.

Unit L and M antlerless deer permits will be available soon – 750 permits in unit L will be available online only on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The permit cost is $26. The old system didn’t work. The new system put a hardship on those who do not have a computer or access to one. You will need a New Hampshire hunting or archery number, driver’s license number and credit card at the ready. The website that will get you the permit is nhfishandgame.com.

Unit M permits go on sale online or at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord beginning Thursday. Four thousand permits will be issued entitling the permit holder to take two antlerless deer. The cost of the permit is $36. Hunters have the opportunity to purchase both Unit L and Unit M permits. Unit M has two problems: It has too many deer, and hunter access is the bigger problem. White tails are totally adaptive to their habitat and surroundings. They will maintain their travel ways and when they bed down it will be near residential backyards.

If you are 62 or older you are about to lose a perk. Seniors can receive a permanent federal park pass for $10. Come Aug. 1 that pass goes up to $80. They are now on sale at the entrance to Elm Brook Park. It might be worth your while to take a trip to Elm Brook.

Fish and Game has just released online a new brochure on fishing in the Concord Capital Region that covers rivers in Concord and Pembroke; local ponds and marshes in Concord, Boscawen, Hopkinton, and Loudon; and fishing spots in Pembroke, Allenstown and Deefield.

You can download your copy at fishnh.com/fishing/documents/capitol-region-fish-guide.pdf.

You can also find guides for many other areas of New Hampshire at fishnh.com/fishing/publications.html.

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