Hunter’s Corner: Winter’s end affects wildlife

For the Monitor
Published: 4/2/2019 8:12:39 PM

It looks like the ground hog (woodchuck) got it right in that spring would be coming early this year. In all the years since Phil has been making his prediction it has been only 19 times that spring would come early. Up until the movie Groundhog Day hit the theaters, approximately 5,000 well-wishers participated in the festivities. Since the movie, the number of fun seekers has risen to 25,000.

I don’t think we are out of the woods just yet, however. My instincts tell me that we will have one big storm, but it won’t last.

Winter in New Hampshire depends upon where you lived in the state, in terms of just how bad it was. The western part of the state and the northern part of the state got hammered with cold weather and lots of snow. The central and southern part of the state experienced a cold winter with little snow.

Just how does this affect wild life? Wild turkey toms have beards. In heavy snow areas the beard will drag on the snow and will be shortened by the time of the spring hunt. Turkey beards will be longer in the central and southern part of the state. Toms start presenting themselves in February, and depending upon weather conditions, mating season will start in early April. Friends of mine got a great laugh out of what may have been a photo-shopped video of a tom turkey spreading his wings to direct traffic so that a number of hens could cross a street. I don’t know if was for real or not, but is was a great laugh.

What is happening on the fishing scene is the annual spawning season of rainbow trout. While most trout spawn in the fall, rainbows are springtime spawners. You have tributaries flowing into big lakes like Winnipesaukee. When the water temperature hits 40 degrees, it is like a dinner bell going off, the spawn is on. This type of fishing is not for the weak at heart but the reward is a 3- to 5-pound rainbow.

This is the time of year to do your scouting for the fall deer season. All the fall runways are clearly visible and should give pause to where you should place your tree or ground stand. The other factor to kick in is shed hunting. As the snow melts away, it will yield shed antlers. Did the monster buck you spotted last year survive the hunting season or winter? If you find his shed antlers you know you still have a chance.

I have often wondered if the date scheduled to take your bob house off the ice was because it was April Fool’s Day or because the retreating ice makes it a sound move. At any rate the ice is in retreat and the time has come. When we will experience ice out? I suspect it won’t be too soon given the early onset of the cold weather in December.

A recent op-ed piece suggested that we should change the way deer are registered in New Hampshire going to an online or postcard registration system. New Hampshire at its best years approach a total deer population of 120,000. In many big deer states their roadkill numbers exceed the total kill by all means taken in New Hampshire.

I support the current registration methods and am not inconvenienced a bit when I am lucky enough to be checking in a deer. Game biologists man check-in stations to obtain biologic data on the health of the deer herd. The only other method of obtaining this information is from roadkill. When you hunt in a big deer state and the total kill is above 100,000, the emphasis is on quality and not quantity – different management skills are required. Geographically New Hampshire is a small state. Huntable acres make it even smaller. I want our game biologists to have the maximum tools to manage the deer herd and the current registration system meets that goal.

I will be retrieving my boat from storage next week and I can’t wait to get it ready for salmon season on Winni.


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