The preliminary numbers are in for one state’s autumn hunting seasons and while the season kill is down for unknown reasons, the overall number is among the highest in the last nine decades.
That’s kind of weird, isn’t it? Hunters killed fewer deer this season but the final total is among the top 10 for the state in almost a century.
The unofficial deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2014 hunting season was 11,464 deer — down 8.6% from the final 2013 kill of 12,540, but a good year nonetheless, according to N. H. Fish and Game Deer Project Leader Dan Bergeron.
“Keep in mind that last year (2013) was a very high harvest year, the fourth highest on record, ” said Bergeron. “Although we are down a bit from that peak, 2014 was a good year overall for New Hampshire’s deer hunters. Based on where deer were registered, it appears as if most counties had deer kills similar to or slightly below the 2013 harvest.”
Looking further back, New Hampshire’s 2014 harvest was the fifth highest in the last 10 years, the sixth highest in the last 20 years, and the ninth highest since 1922.
“Interestingly, five of the 10 highest years of deer harvest in New Hampshire have taken place in the past seven years, ” said Bergeron. “So our hunters are doing pretty well. ”
The 2014 harvest represents about 11.5 percent of New Hampshire’s pre-season population of about 100,000 deer. Deer hunting closed Dec. 15, the final day of the archery deer season.
“Some of the decline in this year’s harvest may be due to last year’s winter, which was slightly above average in some areas of the state based on long term winter severity index data the department collects. Winter weather is one of the main limiting factors to deer in New Hampshire and severe winters have the ability to negatively impact the population, ” Bergeron said.
However, in the last five years New Hampshire has seen three of the mildest winters on record since Fish and Game started recording winter severity index data during the winter of 1964-65. Tracking this index as part of management strategy has helped the deer herd grow in many areas of the state.
The unofficial deer kill for New Hampshire’s 2014 season by county, with comparisons to previous years, is posted at http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/deer_hunt_take_by_County.htm. The 2014 figures are estimates based on the number of deer registrations reported in each county, not necessarily killed in that county. As a result, they may not be directly comparable to the actual kill by county for previous years.
This is particularly evident in the south-central portion of the state, where many deer killed in surrounding counties are registered in Hillsborough County. Bergeron noted that registration data are being entered and verified and, by mid-January, better information on the distribution of the kill by Wildlife Management Unit, season, and sex will be available.
Final numbers from all the year’s hunting seasons will be summarized in the 2014 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be issued in March of 2015.
New Hampshire’s successful hunting seasons are a reminder that hunting activities, made possible by science-based wildlife management, contribute significantly to New Hampshire’s economy. The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-associated Recreation done by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that hunters generate about $61 million in hunting-related expenditures each year in New Hampshire. In 2013, more than 61,500 hunting licenses were sold in New Hampshire.
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