2017 NH Hunting Report: Deer harvest up, bear harvest down

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moose joe rogerson lg
Joe Rogerson of Delaware: One of the 72 percent, who were successful in the 2016 NH moose hunt. Numbers for 2017 were slightly down, according to NH Fish and Game. Courtesy Photo

CONCORD, NH —  Preliminary numbers have been released by the NH Fish and Game Department on the state’s 2017 hunting seasons:

Deer Hunt

The unofficial deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2017 hunting season was 12,269. This take was up 15 percent from the 2016 final harvest of 10,675 and is 13 percent above the 20-year average of 10,934. Based on this estimate, the 2017 total represents the second highest number of deer taken in the last nine years.  Deer hunting seasons are now closed in the state.

“With over 12,000 deer taken by hunters, it has been another very good season in New Hampshire,” said Dan Bergeron, NH Fish and Game’s deer biologist. He noted that the physical condition of deer was good again this year, and that quite a few very large bucks were again harvested throughout the state. “This season’s estimated total harvest ranks among the top five total harvests going back 96 years to 1922!”

The unofficial deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2017 season by county, with comparisons to previous years, may be viewed here. Official harvest numbers will be made available after all deer registration data are entered and verified.

Bear Hunt Results

The 2017 New Hampshire bear season concluded at 586 bears, which was 23 percent below the preceding 5-year average of 764 bears.  Additionally, this year’s harvest was down 35 percent from the 2016 level when a state record bear harvest was achieved.  This year’s harvest consisted of 316 males and 270 females, resulting in an overall harvest sex ratio of 1.2 males per female. A breakdown of bear hunting results by region and method may be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/bear-harvest.html.

“While bear harvest numbers were down some this past fall, it is important to remember that multiple record harvests have been achieved during recent years.  The harvest seen this year represented a more typical harvest level that occurs during abundant food years.  Throughout the state, crops of beechnuts, acorns, apples, and mountain ash berries were bountiful,” said Andrew Timmins, NH Fish and Game’s bear biologist.  He noted that bear populations are not down; rather abundant fall food crops resulted in bears being less susceptible to hunter harvest.

Current bear densities are consistent with regional population objectives in four of six management regions.  Bear densities in two areas, including the White Mountains and Central regions, currently are above goal and need to be decreased over the next several years.  The bear hunting season has been liberalized in these areas in an effort to curtail population growth, thereby offering increased hunter opportunity.

“The fact that the majority (64 percent) of the statewide harvest came from the White Mountains and Central regions dovetailed well with current bear population management goals,” said Timmins.  “By liberalizing the bear harvest in those two regions, we have focused hunter impacts in the areas where it is most needed.”

Fall Turkey Season

Preliminary figures show that New Hampshire hunters took a total of 434 turkeys this fall, down from 1,101 taken in 2016.  The reduced harvest was no surprise. Although numerous flocks were seen “everywhere” in late summer and early fall, abundant mast crops during the fall hunting seasons made turkeys less vulnerable to harvest. The harvest was comprised of 214 hens and 220 gobblers. The breakdown for the fall season was: 186 (42.9 percent) adult hens, 28 (6.5 percent) immature hens, 51 (11.8 percent) jakes, and 169 (38.9 percent) adult gobblers.

Participants in the seven-day shotgun season in October 2017 recorded 264 turkeys, 60.8 percent of the harvest.  During the fall shotgun season, 51 (19.3 percent) turkeys were taken on opening day and 99 (37.5 percent) turkeys on the closing weekend.  Archery hunters took 170 turkeys, or 39.2 percent of the 2017 fall total.

Towns (WMU) with greatest fall turkey harvests were: 10 Bath (D2), 10 Belmont (J2), 9 Cornish (H1), 8 Goffstown (K), 8 Londonderry (M), 7 Canaan (G), 7 Merrimack (M), 7 Rochester (J2/L), 7 Weare (K), 6 Hollis (M), 6 New Boston (K), 6 Strafford (J2), 6 Wilton (K), 5 Brentwood (L/M), 5 Fitzwilliam (H2), 5 Gilford (J2), 5 Gilmanton (J2), and 5 Loudon (J2).

Wildlife Management Units with the highest harvest were WMU M, with 86 (19.8 percent), WMU K with 68 (15.7 percent), and WMU J2 with 61 (14.1 percent) of the fall turkeys.

Moose Season Summary

During New Hampshire’s 2017 moose season, a total of 37 hunters succeeded in taking their moose, resulting in a 69 percent success rate. See a summary of the moose season here.

Regional moose hunt success rate data are available here . The 2018 moose hunt lottery opens in late January.

Small Game

Small game hunters are reminded to help Fish and Game monitor small game populations by taking part in the Small Game Survey and the Grouse Wing and Tail Survey. One participant in each will be the lucky winner of a quality firearm. Find survey forms and more information at www.huntnh.com/hunting/small-game.html.

Snowshoe Hare Hunting Workshop: Snowshoe hare season continues through March 31 and an upcoming workshop provides a great opportunity to learn about the exciting sport of snowshoe hare hunting. The free workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on January 20, 2018, at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. This year, registration for the workshop will be completed online. To register, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/owl-brook.html. Under “View Classes at Owl Brook,” select “Learn to Hunt,” and then select “Snowshoe Hare Hunting Workshop.”


There’s still opportunity to get out and hunt ducks in the Coastal Zone until January 8 and Canada geese until January 18.  Geese can also be taken in the Inland & Connecticut River Zone until December 27.  If you’re up for a real challenge, try hunting sea ducks, as they are currently open in coastal waters (seaward from the first upstream bridge) until January 13.  The daily bag limit for sea ducks is 5 birds, which shall not include more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders, or 4 long-tailed ducks. Learn more at www.huntnh.com/hunting/waterfowl.html.