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Hunter’s Corner: Canada geese, bear and squirrel seasons open Saturday



For the Monitor
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will be releasing the results of the drawing for the Wildlife Management Unit L bonus deer permits at 9 a.m. on Monday and congratulations to Fish and Game for designing an equitable method of issuing the permits.

You had six days to go online, enter your hunting license or driver’s license number and up popped your data. A simple click of the box to enter the drawing and you were in. There was no fee to enter the drawing.

Now that Fish and Game has two workable systems – moose and WMU L – the time has come to issue either-sex hunting by Wildlife Management Units. The biological data is collected annually. They know, or should know, how many does that can be taken per WMU. Double that number and issue either-sex permits by a drawing. Those permits not issued by a drawing can be sold on a first-come, first-served basis after a certain date.

The advantage for hunters is that they hunt in specific WMU’s, and with the either-sex permit in hand, they would have an entire season to use the permit. The advantage for Fish and Game is a better position to regulate the number of does taken by WMU.

You may not have noticed yet but acorns are dropping. This seems to be a bit early, but the good news is that they are on the plump size which is great for the deer herd and turkeys.

Turkeys right now are feasting on grasshoppers and weed seeds. As their travels take them near oak trees, they will make the discovery and start the acorn feast. Deer on the other hand will be drawn in by the scent of the acorns, and they too will alter their feeding habits.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of the latest version of the “New Hampshire Hunting & Trapping Digest” you should as it has all of the season dates, bag limits and new law changes.

Saturday marks the opening of three hunting seasons: Canada geese, bear and squirrel.

From that opening to Sept. 25, Canada goose season targets resident geese who do not migrate. The daily limit is five and the possession limit is 15. These geese have earned the nickname “sky rodent” in that they mess up golf courses, parks and other places. In addition to a hunting license, you will need a state waterfowl license and a Federal Duck Stamp. Since 1934 the sale of such stamps has provided $1 billion to the six million acres of waterfowl habitat.

This year’s stamp features the mallard. Duck stamps are available at the post office and at Fish and Game headquarters. The lines are always shorter at Fish and Game.

Saturday also marks the opening of squirrel season which will run until Jan. 31, 2019. The daily limit is five and there is no season limit. Hunting squirrels in cemeteries is prohibited. The best place to hunt squirrels is in oak forests near cornfields.

When you down a squirrel don’t rush off to retrieve it. Squirrels have short memories and will quickly return to feeding forgetting the report of the firearm. So, why is it important to the youthful hunter to hunt squirrel? The answer is simple: All of the elements of a successful squirrel hunt are found in a successful whitetail hunt.

Saturday is also the start of the general bear season. New Hampshire has over 6,000 black bears, which is more than the state’s ever had.

There are three types of bear hunters. A still hunter are those who hunt over bait and those who use hounds. Bait hunters experience the highest success rate followed by still hunter with hound hunters experiencing the lowest success rate. The reason for the hound hunter’s low success rate is that there are fewer and fewer hound hunters each year. This is because hounds used for this type of hunting are very expensive and the training period is short.

The hound season runs from Sept. 24 to Nov. 13. A free take Bear with Dogs Permit is mandatory to take bear with hounds. There are additional restrictions on nonresidents from Canada.

Bait hunters are required to file a Permit to Bait Wildlife and map of the bait with Fish and Game to bait on private land. Bait hunters are prohibited from using any bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative. White chocolate may be used, go figure.

Could 2018 be a record-setting bear harvest? It depends on whether or not there is an abundance of hard and soft mast. Absent the mast crops, bears will travel further to bulk up and they will accomplish this in apple orchards and corn fields.

The one hunting season that is never closed is the feral swine season, which includes wild pig, feral hog and Russian boar. This is a non-native invasive species that poses extensive damage and disease threats. They can transmit 30 pathogens and 37 parasites, and many pose serious threats to humans, livestock, wildlife and pets.

Now comes the New Hampshire oddity, feral swine are considered escaped private property and may only be hunted with the permission of the owner. If feral swine pose the threat many believe, why not change the law and remove this restriction?

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