New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
2022 Was a Banner Year for New Hampshire Hunters
What a year for New Hampshire’s sportswomen and men who are Granite State hunters.
The year started off in May with a record spring turkey season take of 5,723. 2022 marks the fourth year in a row with a spring season take of over 5,000 birds, a number not counted before 2019. Preliminary fall season numbers are 231 for archery hunters and another 460 taken during the fall shotguns season. Turkeys are abundant across the state with numbers never witnessed before.
New Hampshire black bear season, starting off September first, came very close to setting the all-time record as well with 1,128 bears taken, just shy of a record of 1,183, taken just two years ago in 2020. This was the third year in the last five that more than a thousand bears were taken per year. Bear numbers are historically high across the state estimated at over 6,500 bears.
Deer number are up as well across the state. In fact, based on the current ten-year Fish and Game Deer Management Plan, the population number are above goal in 14 of the 20 Wildlife Management Units. This has resulted in more liberal seasons in parts of the state resulting in ever increasing deer takes. This set this year’s deer seasons for a near-record take of 13,987 based on the preliminary tally the results of Conservation Officers calling the deer registration stations on December 16th, the day after the archery season closed. While not the final number, it is the third highest on record, and is close to the final results. The previous record deer kill was in 1967 when 14,204 deer were taken. But back then, female deer made up 49 percent of the kill versus last year when only 30 percent of the 12,551 deer killed were does. The annual buck kill has been climbing steadily since 1983. In the last forty plus years the deer population has grown from an estimated number in the early 1980’s of a low forty something thousand deer to well over 100,000 today. This too is a historically high number of deer for New Hampshire.
Sadly as New Hampshire continues to warm our moose numbers continue to deteriorate. Only 39 moose hunting permits were issued by lottery in 2022, resulting in only 26 moose taken, 22 bulls and 4 cows for a success rate of only 62 percent. The lowest success rate since the season first opened in 1988. No moose were taken in five WMU’s including D1, D2, E3, F and M.
These really are “The Good Old Days” for New Hampshire hunters. Modern wildlife management by staff at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, with the help of others, like NH Audubon, over the last half century has brought about an abundance of game and other wildlife unheard of by previous generations. Other records continue to roll in for 2022. This includes Bald eagles- 92 pairs, Peregrine falcons -20 plus pairs, ospreys -180 plus pairs and out at the Isle of Shoals, terns- 3,000 plus pairs. Wow. You. Yes, you have a greater chance of spotting anyone of the above mentioned wildlife than your grandmother or her mother ever did!
By Eric Orff, wildlife biologist,
December 19, 2022
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