Opening day for New Hampshire’s regular firearms deer season is November 14, 2012, a date anticipated with great enthusiasm by the state’s estimated 60,000 deer hunters. The season runs through December 9 in most of the state, except in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) A in northern New Hampshire, where it closes December 2. Changes in season length remain in place in Wildlife Management Unit A as part of an effort to improve the buck age-structure of the northern deer herd. The state’s popular muzzleloader deer season gets underway on November 3 statewide and runs through November 13.
“For many New Englanders, the firearms deer season is a traditional opportunity to get together with family and friends, enjoy our bountiful resources and put meat in the freezer before winter,” said Kent Gustafson, Wildlife Programs Supervisor for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
New Hampshire’s archery deer season began September 15. As of October 21, 2012, archers had taken a preliminary total of 1,943 deer. The season total is up significantly from this point in the season in 2010 and 2011 (years when the September archery season was bucks only) and is the second highest in the last nine years. Reported registrations in most counties have increased toward 2007 levels, when the state’s second highest deer total kill occurred, according to Gustafson.
The archery deer season extends through December 15, except in WMU-A, where it closes on December 8. For a comparison by county (based on where deer were registered, not necessarily where harvested), visit http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/deer_hunt_take_October.htm.
Deer hunters can find Wildlife Management Unit and season-specific either-sex day regulations in the 2012-2013 N.H. Hunting and Trapping Digest, available at http://www.huntnh.com/pubs/hunting.html or from any agent when you buy your license. Special Unit M Antlerless Deer Permits are sold out.
New Hampshire may see the best deer season that the state has seen in several years, according to Gustafson. In parts of the state, the deer population has recovered from declines following some severe winters beginning in 2007-08, and deer numbers are improving in many other areas. Last year, the deer kill bounced back to 11,109. Fall foods were quite good last year, including both beechnuts, apples, and acorns, helping deer go into last winter in good shape.
On top of that, the mild winter of 2011-12 turned out to be a great winter for deer. In most of the state, deer were not confined to wintering areas and were free to wander and take advantage of widespread food sources. Winter mortality was low and does came through the winter in good shape, says Gustafson, so fawn production and survival in the spring of 2012 should have been well above average.
Hunting licenses can be purchased online at http://www.huntnh.com, from license agents statewide, or at the N.H. Fish and Game Department in Concord. The basic N.H. hunting license costs $22 for residents and $103 for nonresidents, plus a $2.50 wildlife habitat fee. Hunters younger than age 16 do not need a license, but do require permits for some species, such as turkey and bear, and must be accompanied by a properly licensed adult at least 18 years of age.
Don’t forget, New Hampshire has an exciting new opportunity this year for sharing or participating in the hunting experience. The Apprentice Hunting License allows people a chance to hunt under the guidance of an experienced hunter age 18 or older, without having to take a Hunter Education course first. Learn more at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/apprentice.html.
This year’s Youth Deer Hunting Weekend is scheduled for October 27 and 28 and provides young hunters 15 years old or younger the opportunity to take a deer of either sex while accompanied by an experienced adult hunter. The youth weekend provides youngsters a chance to learn deer hunting techniques and traditions, as well as other outdoor skills that can provide a lifetime of enjoyment. All youths must be accompanied by an adult mentor at least 18 years of age, with a valid N.H. hunting license.
Hunters with full freezers are reminded that the New Hampshire Food Bank is seeking donations of whole or processed deer. This venison provides a valuable source of meat for food banks around the state. For more information, call the food bank at 603-669-9725 x240 or visit http://www.nhfoodbank.org. The New Horizons Food Bank in Manchester also accepts game donations to help feed the hungry. To donate game meat to New Horizons, call 603-628-6133, x114.
Find more about deer hunting in New Hampshire at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_deer.htm.
Logo courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game