New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
Summer Has Returned, oh wait, there was no summer.
Looking like we may hit 80 degrees here this Saturday. Talk about an Indian Summer, if we can even call it that anymore. I apologize now to our Native Friends.
Yes, we are cooking once more. The first eight days of October was a near record for October. This week's stretch of 70 degree plus temperature may put New Hampshire in a new record of 70 plus degree days in October.
Heads up non-hunters. This Saturday the 28th begins the annual primitive weapon, called the Muzzleloader Deer Season. Our woods will be filling with hunters no matter the summer-like temperatures. Expect to see lots of orange colors bobbing through the woods and farmlands over the next month. While the talk has generally been that the number of deer hunters in New Hampshire has been declining for decades, well that is NOT correct.
Let's look at some numbers. Going back to 1960 from the table I'm looking at right now I can see from 94,779 licenses sold in 1960 it peaked at 100,967 in 1969. Hunter numbers kind of bounced around from year to year over the next couple of decades at between 87,000 and 97,000. Then bumped up to over 100,000 at 101,502 in 1996 and has run pretty much between 85,000 and 95,000 since. No, deer hunters are not in a decline in New Hampshire. In fact, the pandemic lifted numbers a bit. So, yes you are going to see lots of hunters scattered about the Granite State over the next several weeks.
Our New Hampshire deer hunters will likely be taking another record number of adult bucks. A look at the numbers of deer taken show how successful deer management, and a warming climate, has shaped the state's deer population. In the early 1980's the Fish and Game Department estimated a deer population of just over 40,000 deer. In fact, the hunter's take bottomed out in 1983 at only 3,380 deer taken. It was that year that the legislators, in their wisdom, turned over management of deer in the state to the Fish and Game Department and the growth of the deer herd began. While the all-time record deer take, so far, was 14,204 in 1967, that year half of the deer taken were does (females). Fast forward to 1999 and the deer take has been over 10,000 each year with the second highest at 14,113 taken in 2018, third at 13,559 in 2007 and fourth in 2020 at 13,044. We are on the cusp of a new record high deer take and as I already said the last six years have seen a record or near record buck take, with only a third of the deer taken each year does with a deer population well exceeding 100,000 deer. These are in fact "The Good Old Days" for this state's deer hunters.
Good luck deer hunters.
Seeping into fall a couple degrees at a time.
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