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October 27, 2013

N.H. experts predict successful hunting season

Mild winters translate into healthy deer herd

This is one of Al Bacon’s favorite times of the year.

“The hunting season’s really starting to get underway,” said Bacon, owner of Al’s Gun & Reel Shop in Derry. “People here are starting to get excited.”

Hunting was listed as one of the “603 Reasons” readers think New Hampshire is special.

Hunters may be in luck this year; experts are predicting this will be one of the best season the state has seen in years.

“Deer season, in particular, should be really good,” said Kent Gustafson, wildlife program supervisor for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. “We’ve already seen some high numbers this year.”

Dan Bergeron, deer project leader for New Hampshire Fish and Game, said this should be the best deer season since 2007.

“The last two winters, the population has really jumped back,” he said. “In lots of years, the population has really bottomed out, but now it’s about two to three times larger from where we used to be in terms of density.”

Right now, New Hampshire is in the middle of archery season, which runs from Sept. 15 to Dec. 15.

As of Friday, 2,518 deer had been taken, the most at this date in more than 10 years. Muzzleloader season runs from Nov. 2 to Nov, 12. Other firearms season for deer open Nov. 13 and end Dec. 8.

The last two winters haven’t been as severe as usual, which increases deer survival rates, Bergeron said.

“They have been among the more milder winters we’ve seen,” he said. “They’re able to find acorns easier and are able to survive the winter.”

In 2010, the deer kill was 9,759. This season, Bergeron expects it to approach 2007 totals, when 13,339 deer were taken by hunters in New Hampshire, the second highest total ever recorded.

That has led to more hunters seeking license, according to Gustafson.

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