New Hampshire Wildlife News
by Certified Wildlife Biologist, Eric P. Orff


New Hampshire’s 2023 deer season resulted in a total harvest of 13,136 deer, and represented the fifth- highest harvest in the state’s history going back to 1922 . This was a decrease of 7% from 14,082 in 2022. The adult buck (antlered males age 1.5+) kill decreased slightly from 8,339 in 2022 to 8,295 in 2023. This total represents the second-highest adult buck harvest the state has seen. The antlerless harvest (does and fawns) decreased 16% from 5,743 in 2022 to 4,841 in 2023. The Department has generated an annual Winter Severity Index (WSI) since the winter of 1964-65. This index assesses the duration of snow depths in excess of 18 inches and minimum temperatures below 0° F from December through April and provides an indication of potential winter impacts on the deer population. The statewide average WSI for the winter of 2022-23 was below the long-term average and department biologists have documented little to no mortality during their annual deer wintering area surveys over the last three years. Additional winters of average to below-average severity should help increase deer numbers towards population objectives in the few management units that remain below objective and may allow increased antlerless hunting opportunity in units that are near or above objective.

Click here to download the complete summary of the 2023 Deer hunting season.

The total male kill in 2023 including male fawns was 8,895 and the total female kill including female fawns was 4,241. The 2023 general season framework, unit-specific either-sex hunting opportunities, and a map of Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) are provided in a subsequent figure in this report.

The kill during the special youth weekend hunt was 249, a decrease of 36% from the total kill of 387 in 2022. Archery hunters took 4,062 deer (31% of total harvest) in 2023, down 10% from 4,498 in 2022. The muzzleloader kill in 2023 was 1,871 (14% of total harvest), a decrease of 12% from 2,133 taken in 2022, while “regular” firearm hunters took 6,954 deer (53% of total harvest) in 2023, down 2% from 7,064 in 2022. Subsequent tables give additional details on the harvest by season, sex and WMU.

Biological information was again collected during 2023 at select deer registration stations to monitor the physical condition of New Hampshire’s deer and assess harvest age structure. In 2023 a total of 760 deer were checked (481 males, 279 females). Average yearling (age 1.5) antler beam diameter was 16.9 millimeters, below the 5-year average of 17.7 millimeters. Yearling male field-dressed weight averaged 109.5 pounds, below the 5-year average of 112.9 pounds. The statewide yearling male fraction, the percentage of adult (antlered) bucks consisting of yearlings, for the 2023 harvest was 40.7%, lower than the 47.6% in 2022 and the 5-year average of 42.0%. This indicates that greater than half of adult males taken in NH in 2023 continue to be 2.5 years old or older. The distribution of older antlered bucks at biological check stations was 29.3% at 2.5 years old, 19.6% at 3.5 years, 6.1% at 4.5 years, and 4.3% at 5.5+ years old. Mature bucks at 4.5 years old averaged 171 pounds dressed weight with an average of 9.1 antler points (≥1”), while bucks 5.5+ years old averaged 192.3 pounds and 8.8 points.

Deer population management efforts in the near future will remain primarily focused on achieving WMU-specific deer population objectives as provided by the New Hampshire Game Management Plan.

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