EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

September 15, 2010

NH works to rebuild deer herd

Does are off-limits this year for the 16-day archery season that opens today.

Hunters can shoot only antlered deer through Sept. 30, all part of a state effort to improve the health of the deer herd.

"The deep, prolonged snow that we had in the winter of 2007 and 2008, and then again in 2008 and 2009, produced a higher-than-normal winter mortality in the deer herd, particularly in eastern and northern New Hampshire," said Kent Gustafson, a New Hampshire Fish and Game Department deer biologist. "As a result, populations declined a fair bit."

He said each wildlife management unit has specific levels of population they look for in deer, moose and other big game species. The Fish and Game Department regulates hunting each year to maintain an equilibrium.

Restricting antler-less kills for a short time will help, according to Gustafson.

"If you increase the (doe) survival rate, obviously they will be around to have fawns the next year and increase the population," he said.

He said restricting bow hunters helps the recovery as much as restricting firearms hunters.

From Oct. 1 until the end of the season on Dec. 15, deer of either sex are open game. The fall archery turkey season also opens today and runs through Dec. 15.

Last year 17,277 residents and 1,960 nonresidents purchased bow licenses, according to Susan Perry, the state hunting licensing supervisor. This year's numbers are not in yet.

"I don't know if more or less people will be hunting because of the economy," she said. "On the one hand, people may have more time, which is something they always complain they don't have enough of. But, on the other hand, they may say I can't afford the license."

A resident archery license costs $22; a nonresident license is $73.

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