Hunter’s Corner: October is the best month of the year

Sunday, September 24, 2017

In a typical year, we get our fall rains around Sept. 21. Well, 2017 is far from a typical year. The hurricanes and freak storms got us off to an early start. This is good news for puddle duck hunters as all of the pot hole swamps are full to the brim and hold the promise of an interesting duck season. Normally, sumac and swamp maples start changing color in August. This year however, the maples of all types are changing color early than most years. Sept. 22 is the Autumnal Equinox and let the good times roll.

Saturday was National Hunting and Fishing Day and you can expect major sales activity to go beyond just the one day. My emails from Bass Pro Shops in Hooksett and at Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine, have increased significantly.

Next up in the Fish and Game adventure talks is Fall Turkey Hunting. Learn more about tactics, techniques, equipment and calls that can help you seal the deal on your fall turkey hunt. Experienced turkey hunters Fred Bird and Carter Heath will present a seminar on fall turkey hunting of Wednesday, Sept. 27 at Fish and Game headquarters at 7 p.m. The fall season is often viewed as a “hunt of opportunity” but Bird and Heath will show that fall turkey hunting is much much more.

Oct. 1 marks the major opening for small game hunting including cottontail rabbits in WMU’s H 2, K, L and M except where closed. The daily limit is two. Pheasant hunting at the pheasant release sites where approximately 11,780 will be released at 70-plus sites. The pheasant hunting is suspended until noon on Oct. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20 due to safety concerns. The daily limit is two and season limit is 10. If you log on to www.wildlife.state.nh.us, you can download pheasant stocking sites. Many of these sites are located in flood control areas. These areas also have good habitat and cover for woodcock. Woodcock season also opens Oct. 1 with a daily limit of three and a possession limit of nine. There are two distinct woodcock groups, those that annually nest in New Hampshire and flight birds. Every year biologists go on a listening tour to hear tweeting woodcock and drumming partridge. This gives the biologists a sense of mating activity. Weather dictates when the flight birds come through our area. They will be heading for Cape May, New Jersey, and when wind conditions are just right will crossover the Delaware Bay on their journey south.

The pre-eminent upland game bird in New Hampshire is the partridge. Two factors impact partridge production. The controllable factor is habitat. The uncontrollable factor is the weather. Both partridge and woodcock need young forests. The only way to get young forest is to harvest timber. Residential and commercial development has diminished habitat in the southern New Hampshire. I will occasionally flush a single partridge in the greater Concord area but without active forest management it will never come back to the way it used to be. The White Mountain National Forest is managed for hiking and primitive camping and not for wildlife. So, the really good bird hunting tales place North of the Notch.

Weather determines success, or lack thereof, of the partridge season. A cold wet spring can decimate a partridge chick crop. Fish and Game has an active habitat improvement program and is making progress to creating just the right habitat but with limited financial resources the progress is limited.

New Hampshire has three migratory hunting zones, Northern, Inland and Connecticut River and Coastal. The Northern and Inland and Coastal zones open Oct. 3 and the Coastal zone opens Oct. 4. You will need to check on the other regulations in the current New Hampshire Hunting digest. The daily limit for ducks is six and may include no harlequin ducks and no more than four mallards (two of which maybe hens, two black ducks, three wood ducks, one pintail, two canvasbacks, two redheads, two scaup and no more than four scoters, four eiders or four long-tailed ducks. The possession limit are three times the daily bag limit (example: the mallard possession limit is 12 of which six may be hens).

The Canada Geese (September) daily limit is five and possession limit is 15; Canada Geese (regular) daily limit is three and possession limit is nine.

The fall shotgun season for turkey runs Oct. 16-22. Check the Digest for the WMU’s that are legal. The season limit is one turkey of either sex.

The youth deer hunting weekend for youths under the age of 15 for deer is Oct. 21-22. This is a statewide either sex deer hunt for a youth accompanied by a properly licensed adult 18 years of age or older. The adult may not possess a firearm, crossbow or bow and arrow.

The final October opening is the muzzleloader season which opens Oct. 28. For the hunter, October is the best month of the year.

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