The unofficial deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2018 hunting season was 14,057, an increase of 14 percent from the 2017 final harvest of 12,309, which is 26 percent above the 20-year average of 11,150. Deer hunting seasons are now closed in the state.
“With over 14,000 deer taken by hunters, it has been one of the best seasons in New Hampshire in nearly 100 years,” said Dan Bergeron, deer biologist. He noted that the physical condition of deer appeared quite good again this year despite the mast failure, and that a number of very large bucks were again harvested throughout the state.
“This season’s estimated total harvest ranks as the second highest in the state’s history going back 96 years to 1922, and was only exceeded in 1967 when 14,204 were taken,” Bergeron said.
The 1967 harvest was comprised of 62 percent antlerless deer because hunters were allowed to harvest any gender of deer statewide throughout all seasons including archery, muzzleloader and firearms. The unregulated harvest of does continued into the early 1980s, and combined with several hard winters, resulted in a significant decline in the deer population.
In contrast, the majority of the 2018 harvest will be comprised of antlered bucks, resulting in an overall larger and healthier deer population and a more sustainable long-term harvest.
Official harvest numbers will be made available after all deer registration data have been entered and verified.
The unofficial deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2018 season by county, with comparisons with previous years, may be viewed here.
Bear Hunt Results see 46% increase
The 2018 New Hampshire bear season harvest totaled 1,052 bears, which was 46 percent above the preceding 5-year average of 719 bears. Additionally, this year’s bear harvest was a state record, exceeding the previous record of 898 in 2016.
The harvest consisted of 545 males and 507 females, resulting in an overall harvest sex ratio of 1.1 males per female. The White Mountain and Central regions accounted for 625 bears, or approximately 59percent of the total. A breakdown of bear hunting results by region and method can be viewed here.
“The record bear harvest is no surprise given the low availability of bear foods this fall. Earlier in the season, bear food sources were primarily limited to apples (although spotty), white oak acorns (low statewide distribution), and corn,” said Andrew Timmins, NH Fish and Game’s Bear Biologist. Timmins noted that these foods were largely depleted by mid-October and that bears began denning early as a result. By the end of September, 85percent of the total harvest had occurred, and by mid-October 95percent of the total was accounted for.
Current bear densities are consistent with regional population objectives in four of six management regions. Bear densities in the White Mountain and Central regions are currently above goal. Bear hunting seasons in those areas were liberalized in an effort to curtail population growth and offer increased hunter opportunity.
Significant increase in fall turkey harvest
Preliminary figures indicate hunters took a total of 1,280 turkeys this fall, a significant increase from the 450 birds taken in 2017.
According to Ted Walski, turkey biologist, “The primary reason for the increase was the lack of hard and soft mast in the woods.” The harvest will be down in good mast years, as it was in 2017, and it will increase in poor mast years like 2018 because turkey flocks are in the fields where they’re more easily seen by hunters.
The total harvest was comprised of 658 hens and 622 gobblers. The breakdown for the fall season was: 490 (38.3 percent) adult hens, 168 (13.1 percent) immature hens, 101 (7.9 percent) jakes, and 521 (40.7 percent) adult gobblers. Participants in the seven-day shotgun season in October 2018 recorded 837 turkeys, or 65.4 percent of the total fall harvest.
During the fall shotgun season, 157 turkeys were taken on opening day (18.8 percent of the shotgun total) and 303 (36.2 percent of the shotgun total) turkeys were harvested on the closing weekend. Archery hunters took 443 turkeys, or 34.6 percent of the fall total.
Wildlife Management Units with the highest fall harvest were WMU J2 with 229 (17.9 percent), WMU K with 159 (12.4 percent), WMU M with 132 (10.3 percent), and WMU H2 with 120 (9.4 percent). These 4 units accounted for 50 percent of the total fall harvest.
Towns with the greatest fall turkey harvests were Loudon (24), Weare (22), Bath and New Boston (21), Epsom (19), Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton, Hopkinton, and Webster (17), and Alstead and Freedom (16).
Moose season summary
During New Hampshire’s 2018 moose season, a total of 41 hunters succeeded in taking their moose, resulting in a 77 percent success rate. The 2019 moose hunt lottery opens in late January.
To see the regional moose hunt success-rate data click here.